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Google are in the process of rolling out a change to the way they display the main “organic” results. They are calling it “Universal Search”. The primary difference between this and what we have been used to is the way results from Google’s other search facilities such as maps, images and video are incorporated into the main web search.

The old (or soon to be old) Google search sometimes displayed info from other search facilities near the top of the results such as the maps I commented on a few months back.

The new Google search will still include these results but more as part of the main listings. This means that you may now find Google news, Google Video etc more integrated into the normal listings and more often than not, no longer at the top of the listings. Effectively they will look more like normal results.

Universal Sponsored Results?

Could it be though, that we will see universal sponsored (AdWords) results? Two possible formats:

  1. Sponsored results get integrated into the main results. Perhaps individually or as a “chunk”. Algorithmically it would be interesting to come up with a solution that always put the user first.
  2. Separate sponsored results with a bit of a “universal” touch: normal paid listings with the odd local business ad, paid video or book?

I’m not expecting to see either of these any time soon if ever but, if searchers get used to clicking on videos in the main results, then who’s to say that they won’t click on video adverts?

The current change though is likely to have some immediate impact on advertisers.

The presence of these infrequently clicked on facilities between the top AdWords (sponsored) listings and the organic (main) listings has probably benefited AdWords advertisers because the most relevant listings (organic) have been further down the results page.

However it could have worked the other way? We know a lot of clicks on sponsored results happen as a result of searchers being distracted as their eyes seek out the top organic listing. Perhaps being closer to it will allow advertisers to distract more visitors?

Search Engine Land provides a good explanation of the universal search concept.

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