Algorithm Rolled Out: May 2007

Algorithm Overview: Overall Gist

Google is making the most significant change to its search results in its history, launching a “Universal Search” system that will combine listings from its news, video, picture, local, and book search engines with those gathered by crawling web pages.

The new technology is now available to everyone who visits and searches in English. Not everyone will notice it right once, but over the following several days, Universal Search should become more, well, universal.

What Exactly Is Vertical Search?

Regular search — whether you go to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask, or any other general-purpose search engine — is a “horizontal” search in the sense that you are searching over a broad range of content. Sports information, news information, medical information, shopping information – the complete horizontal spectrum of topics is represented.

Vertical search allows you to drill down vertically through a single topic area. You just search against news sites or medical information, for example. This level of attention can produce more meaningful outcomes.

Do you require assistance in repairing the windows in your home? If you search that horizontally, the material on the Windows operating system may dominate the results, simply because there is so much information about Windows available. Try using a vertical search engine that just includes information about home renovation, and information about repairing the sort of windows you look out of should become much more obvious and relevant.

Increasing the Visibility of Vertical Search

Unfortunately, many individuals are ignorant of the available vertical search options. Indeed, Google’s home page has long included links to its vertical search services above the search box. They began as “tabs,” then evolved into conventional links that now offer the ability to vertically search for photos, video, news, maps, and many more specialized areas.

Consider the following list to have a thorough understanding of all the vertical searches conducted by Google:

  1. Blog Search
  2. Book Search
  3. Catalogs
  4. Code Search
  5. Directory
  6. Finance
  7. Images
  8. Local/Maps
  9. News
  10. Patent Search
  11. Product Search
  12. Scholar
  13. Video
  14. Web Search

Certainly, the home page links have not been effective in exposing the vertical richness. Those URLs are seldom used by searchers. Try it out for yourself.

Google is trying something similar with Universal Search. Google is bombarding multiple of its vertical search services at once, then bringing those results back to mix in with “normal” results.

The Effect on Searchers and Search Marketers

Overall, we think this is a terrific step by Google, providing the deployment goes smoothly. Mayer was careful to emphasize that this is only the beginning of Universal Search and that Google expects to tweak and alter things as time goes on. It should be beneficial to searchers who have simply ignored vertical search properties and so missed out on valuable stuff inside them.

As a search engine marketer, the use of invisible tabs means that traffic from organic web page results would gradually decrease. The more specialty databases that are established, the less traffic there will be for online search results. That doesn’t have to be an issue. The most valuable asset of a qualified search engine marketer is understanding how search engines obtain various sorts of listings and then assisting their clients in entering the right databases. Think beyond web page databases to be ready for the future.

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