Universal Search: Giving Users The Best Answer

The launch of Universal search in May 2007 marked Google’s expansion and showed the world how extensive the search engine has grown. It was an unusual update since it involved algorithm changes as well as modifications to enhance user experience. Now, there’s more than just ten blue links in the SERPs; there are additional media like images, videos, maps, news, and Product Listing Ads or PLAs.

What’s It For

According to a Google blog post by Marissa Mayer, Universal Search was developed “to help you find the very best answer, even if you don’t know where to look.” She had already suggested this type of integration as early as 2001 and created the mockup that would serve as the basis for this feature.

The team’s primary goal was to remove the walls in traditional search and its properties by integrating all relevant information for a user’s query into a straightforward set of search results. It aligns with their overarching emphasis on relevance and giving users the best answer to their problem.

Additionally, they rolled out new navigation elements and experimental features that facilitate users’ quest for answers. There are the contextual navigation links located above the search results to narrow down options as well as a new universal navigation bar on top of all Google web pages for easy access to the brand’s products like Gmail.

What Were Its Effects

Universal Search dramatically changed SEO. The struggle for improving relevancy in search results began with analyzing keywords to rank content then moved toward link analysis; next, came personalized results and, with this update, vertical or specialized search. This process, in turn, altered how content was made and how pages were ranked.

What It Means for You

Google’s interface has come a long way now. The search engine’s development entails a challenge for digital marketers to optimize all aspects of their websites for search. However, this challenge also comes with opportunities for your brand to take over the top spot in the SERPs with the right strategies.

Currently, video is the most consumed digital media of users. Here are the ways to optimize them for your audience and search bots:

  • Produce Fascinating Content No matter how well you optimize your video’s title and tags, it’ll all be in vain if you aren’t producing interesting content. You must, first and foremost, provide something valuable to your audience whether it’s entertaining or informative. This way, you encourage them to share your posts, and you entice potential partner sites to link to you.
  • Prioritize Mobile Optimization The invention of smartphones has given users the ability to gain new knowledge at the touch of their fingertips. Nowadays, most consumers are mobile, and that’s where your focus should be too. You have to ensure that your website and video player can adapt to any screen size. Moreover, you should publish your videos on platforms that are automatically optimized for mobile viewing such as YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Post Attention-Grabbing Thumbnails While thumbnails don’t have any direct bearing on your Google rankings, it does play a significant role in getting users to actually click on your video. You must publish an eye-catching thumbnail to grab your target audience’s interest and entice them to watch what you have to say to them. The still you choose should also give potential viewers an idea about the content. Think of it as a supplement to your title. It should be attention-grabbing without being clickbaity.
  • Publish on Multiple Platforms Unlike articles where duplicate content can actually harm your rankings, uploading your videos on several channels can help boost its visibility. While you should self-host your videos to increase conversions, YouTube can get your videos to rank on Google because of its extensive membership count. Plus, other video-hosting platforms like Vimeo and Dailymotion can also help your position in the SERPs.
  • Print Unique Descriptions on Various Channels Upon publishing your videos on various channels, at the very least, you need to choose a title, thumbnail and text description. It’s crucial that you create unique posts for each platform you’re publishing on and incorporate relevant keywords wherever appropriate. You don’t need to come up with an entirely new caption every time, but you must tweak the title, thumbnail, length, keywords, and call-to-actions that accompany your videos.
  • Put in Captions and Transcriptions Videos may be the favorite medium of today’s users, but Google is still text-based. Use this to your advantage by typing captions and transcriptions for your videos to increase the chance of recognition by search bots. Pro tip: write a keyword-rich script to add more weight to your video content.