The Benefits of Universal Search

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Universal Search

Universal search has actually been around for some time. All the way back in 2006 when I did some work for Google, we were testing it before it went live in the spring of 2007. Even though it has been over 3 years since it went live, many companies, SEO firms and marketing agencies are still not taking advantage of it.

Search results used to be a very simple and rather boring list of links with the standard being 10 results per page. With Universal search Google, as well as other search engines, added different types of media including images, video, blogs, books and news. The example below shows a simple example for “cats”.

Universal Search Results for Cats
Universal search results for “cats”

The idea is to give users more complete results. So, what does this do for you and how can you take advantage of it?

Expand Brand Recognition

One of the biggest benefits of using universal search optimization is multiple rankings. By presenting your material in various types of media you greatly expand your chances showing up multiple times in the search engine results. This will help your brand recognition and visibility. Using images and video on your site, and tagging them correctly, is one way to take advantage of this. Hosting your video on YouTube also gives you another avenue get listed. So does hosting your images on a site like Flickr. Get it? Each image, video has the potential to be listed.

Use Social Media

With the popularity of social networking sites there are even more ways to get into search results. Universal search now also includes the sites I like to call the big three: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. By setting up company profiles on these sites gives you even more ways to be found. Not only can you be found in individual search engines such as Facebook search, but now with multiple listings you could potentially fill the first page of results for your targeted keywords.

Drive It Home

If that’s not reason enough to optimize for universal search, there’s more! (use cheesy game show voice here). By showing up in the rankings multiple times you increase the chances of people clicking through to your content, but what do they do once they get there? You need to add links that lead back to your company site. This will give you more organically grown inbound links which will improve your ranking, provided that the site with the link doesn’t use “no-follow links“. Even if they do use no-follow links you are still increasing your chances of receiving secondary traffic to your site. Plus for the social media example, if you are writing engaging content people will share it with their friends which can also increase inbound links and traffic.

Below is an example of how to structure a campaign around a company site using search and social media.

digital marketing flowchart - social media flowchart

Bottom line, when implemented correctly optimizing for universal search increases your chances of being found online, your brand recognition, your relevant inbound links, traffic to your site and the chance to reach a broader audience.

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