Universal search is a term coined by Google to describe a fundamental change in the way it presents its web search results. The search company introduced universal search in mid-2007 for Google.com users, and continued rolling it out to other Google domains (.co.uk, .ca, .ie, etc) through 2008. Billed by commentators as one of the most significant and radical developments in the history of the search industry, universal search (or blended search, as it is also known) takes results from Google’s specialised search engines (Google News, Google Books, Google Local / Maps, Google Video, Google Image, Google Groups, etc) and slots then into standard web search results in order of relevance.
As you would expect, other major search engines were not far behind both Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Live Search introduced similar blended search results soon after Google. For users, this development is huge boon. Instead of having to manage and navigate multiple specialised search tools, users can now enter their search query in one convenient location in order to find results across multiple platforms.
But what does all this mean for search marketers? Essentially, there are two ways of looking at it. On one level it is a potential threat, in that for any given keyword phrase your pages now have to compete with results for news, video, maps, discussion groups, images and host of other sources in order to get those coveted top SERP ranking. On the other hand, if you produce the right sort of content and submit it to the relevant places, universal search offers additional opportunities to rank for your chosen keyword phrases.
Ryan, D., 2016. Understanding digital marketing: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. Kogan Page Publishers.