Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Universal search: When Google becomes the destination

Is Google's search engine results page becoming the destination instead of the road map?

Because of the increased number of search results turning up maps, stocks, weather, etc. on the same result's page, many browsers don't need to go anywhere else. There is no need to click off the page.

This is part of Google's plan to make search universal and more relevant, bringing together video, images, stocks, news, maps, etc.

Of the 87 million searches conducted each week on Google, 58% have a universal component, according to new research presented by ComScore on Tuesday at the SES conference in New York. Of these universal search results, 38% included video, 34% included news, 19% had images and 15% had a combination of all or some of the above.

What does this mean?

Blended search results are showing up everywhere. I just searched for the Washington Monument and the first results were maps showing where it was. No need for me to skip off the page. Similarly, a search for the group The Supremes listed a YouTube video of Baby Love as the fifth listing. A search for BHP, a big mining company, brings up a mix of company results, stock prices and news.

What does this mean for marketers? Some good news and bad news from yesterday's panel.

The bad news: Clicks are down because people who are seeing universal search results don't need to leave the page as much. Company listings are often going to lose valuable real estate on the first page to images, videos, books, maps, etc.

And the good: Conversions should increase as relevancy goes up.

It sure does make loading and optimizing company videos, photos, maps more important than it once was.

One thing is sure is that search is growing. In 2006, the average browser did 52 searches a month. That rose to 74 searches a month in 2007.

There's plenty of great and detailed coverage on the implications of universal search and these new findings at SEORoundtable and BigMouth Media.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power on Wednesday March 19 at 7 a.m.


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