I’m not going to spend much time on the news as any search marketer worth their salt should already be aware of Google’s Universal Search initiative. The goal, of course, is to aggregate results to one SERP presenting web results, videos, news, images, and other content in the same experience.
Yesterday, Google took a step towards accomplishing that goal with the release of new SERP architecture that merges images, maps, books, video, and news.
This should, on the whole, be good as most searches overlook vertical engines that provide a much better, more relevant experience for their respective themes. That said, I’m concerned about the potential with this change to exacerbate a change similar to the oft discussed trend between social classes in the United States: The increasing divide between the upper and lower class. With additional content on the first page of search results, what happens to those without the popularity, rank, or history to reach prominence?
A SERP which previously displayed 15 different results might now show 5 results for the same topic from different verticals causing sites to fall behind. My search for “The Alamo” might now result in a local travel guide, regional weather, books about The Alamo, recent news, pictures, a map of the area, and heck, possibly car rental information when what I want are websites about the venerable San Antonio fort.
What strikes me as positive for search marketers is that the vertical engines just took a leap in importance as those Universal results are powered by verticals. Due to the concerns I’ve just expressed, websites can no longer depend on traditional, general SEO and need to ingratiate themselves with their respective search vertical to ensure they are prominent within that experience.