Ever since Google’s universal search was launched on May 16 2007 search results have become a lot more interesting. With many choices of media type from just one results page it’s fair to say the world of search (Google) is hotting up.

So after the first 18th months what do we think? And more importantly what does the universal future hold for searchers, agencies and companies?

Searchers

You, me and every searcher out there is finding it easier to engage with content in their preferred media type. Rather than find a video portal or a topical blog Google now does this for us so we can engage quicker and easier with the content we want. The launch also included new navigation elements across the top of the results providing users with an easy route to filter results by their favoured media type.

Currently all Google’s organic results (video, news, images) are displayed vertically in one column. Sometimes a video, news or image result will push normal organic results out of the top ten sometimes they are included while keeping the normal organic results intact. How long until the one column layout becomes a thing of the past?

Ask launched 3D search in June 2007. The three vertical panel results page was considered a major leap forward and was far superior to the Ask of the past. But the results page was too slow to download and people didn’t come back. Ask stripped the results page down to two columns and integrated the results in the main listings very similar to Google. Ask is still using the two column format but for how long?

With more and more content readily available what will Google do to improve its results interface? iGoogle used a dashboard interface, could this be incorporated into results? Possibly, but that seems a little easy for Google. As the most intelligent search engine is renowned for making life easy for users we are more likely to see results tailored specifically to individuals searching behaviour. So users viewing video more often than other results will over time be given more choice in video and other results will be cut down. Google will personalise the information for us. The addition of SearchWiki is another step forward as searchers can edit the position of results and add comments. This new feature will provide Google with important user searching behaviour helping to better understand how to tailor search results.

Agencies

In the early days of search engine marketing on site optimisation was about all you could do. Search Engines were not advanced enough to calculate any more data than how well a page was optimised. It wasn’t until search engines introduced network theory and linking data that search campaigns became much more interesting and with the increase in activity and competition more of a challenge.

Today’s universal world means more time consuming and thought out search campaigns targeting audiences across all media types. Video and audio content has been around for a long time, but appearing in search results is still in its infancy. As Google is driving this technology it will play a major part in the future of search and is already playing a big part within many industries.

Optimisation now includes video files, video pages, podcasts, RSS Feeds, Blog Posts, off site content, press releases, images as well as traditional web pages.

Over the coming years agencies will be looking to add value to their clients brands by releasing content in many different media types across a range of different platforms and sites. If done collectively there can be serious benefits through time-sensitive searches (temporal relevance). Spending more time on campaigns across a diverse range of media and the multi-level media optimisation approach will be essential for maximum success.

Companies

Companies have more of an opportunity to communicate with their audience in a format which best suites the customer. They can gain more exposure by embracing all media types which Google can deliver to their customers.

For example a press release can be accompanied with:

  • Video interviews
  • Audio versions of that interview (podcast)
  • Transcript of the interview
  • Blog post giving readers a small easy to digest overview of the content

Now these other media types have the ability to be found through search as well as traditional organic pages means that companies will look more seriously at this type of investment.

So what does the future hold?

Campaigns will focus on multi-level media optimisation to cover all areas of results. No longer can we just target a list of primary key phrases and achieve top 3 rankings. If Google is to tailor results to individuals searching behaviour the universal future will require a more in-depth strategy to guarantee content is delivered across all media reaching the complete spectrum of searcher.

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