Blended search or universal search isn’t new but its reach and impact on the search engine results is expolding. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology, don’t worry – I’m sure you’ve seen blended search in action before. Let me explain.
One of the most visible changes in the major search engines (Yahoo and Google especially) results pages is the appearance of images, videos, news items, definitions, product reviews and quick links that look out of place compared to your typical results. These items have been “blended” into the results by the engines – because they believe the results to be highly relevant to your search. Thus, search engine users can get immediate, quick answers to some of their queries without even clicking off the search engine’s own pages. The term “universal” comes into play because the results being displayed are now universal, or are all inclusive in nature, whereas before if you wanted images, videos or news – as an example – you would conduct Google searches separately by using Google Image Search, Google Video or Google News to find what you were looking for.
Let’s look at a few quick examples.
First, I’ve Googled “RFID healthcare” – and interestingly, two YouTube videos have been included by the search engines in the results. These videos are clearly competing for the attention of the browser.
Second, I’ve Googled “web development” – a keyword near and dear to our own hearts here at Wakefly. Most interestingly, Google has added a few extra links to blog posts in the bottom of the search results. Web development is a very competitive keyword, yet by creating and properly optimizing a blog post about web development – I can get a piece of the action that organically was never possible.
In these two simple examples lie both the threats and opportunities that blended search can create. In terms of threats, if your B2B website has long enjoyed top rankings, be prepared to see more and more competitors optimizing all their web assets to try and grab some of the new real estate offered up by blended search. Whereas you traditional website’s ranking is subjected to the trusty, tried and true Google algorithm in order to determine your ranking, blended search provides opportunity for new players to sneak onto the first page as different ranking and placement factors are at play – like, how well they optimized their YouTube video or how often they include images in their blog posts. Plus, whereas historically you were just competing against some different organic players and PPC advertisers , the results pages are now full of news results, image results, and videos all competing for the same clicks you historically garnered.
Of course, the flip side of the coin is tremendous opportunity for B2B companies interested in taking the time to produce images, videos, blogs, press releases and optimize and syndicate them correctly – as Google will reward you with inclusion in the blended search results.
Finally, to test your skills I’ve posted search results for a B list Hollywooder and it is well stocked with blended results, how many elements below do you see that are outside of the normal organic and paid results?