I just attended a very interesting session at Search Engine Strategies (SES) San Jose titled: Universal & Blended Vertical Search. The panel of speakers included representatives from Google, Yahoo, and Ask.com. These three reps gave us a great deal of insight into their respective company’s theory on universal search and what they envision for the future.

Universal search (or blended search) is the concept of including different types of listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). When we talk about "different types" of listings, we are talking about listings other than your typical web page reference. For example, check out this search query for "The Family Guy." You’ll notice that within the results Google has listed The Family Guy home page at number 1 (to be expected), but then notice the number 7 listing…it’s a YouTube video for the family guy. You’ll also notice that the number 9 listing is a Family Guy blog. Up until recently you would never find a video or a blog listed in the SERPs with normal website listings…this is considered Universal/Blended Search.

Universal search can include: Videos, Images, News, Blogs, Book excerpts, and the traditional web site listings. It is these latest developments in search that forces us to optimize not only the website, but also the images on the site and the press releases and videos that we submit to other internet sites. The Yahoo rep highlighted the fact that the number of video comments and video views (on YouTube or other video sites) directly correlates to how high those videos appear in the search results.

All three company reps stated, in a round-about way, that universal search is in it’s infancy and is only going to become more prevalent. As search marketers, we can’t ignore this. We must take the time to optimize every portion of our client’s business including images, blogs, press releases, and videos. This could make our job much more time consuming and more difficult. However, if done properly you could see fantastic results in the form of multiple results on the front page.

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