Universal and Blended Search – SES

In this session, representatives from all the major search engines explained what has been happening in the universal (blended) search space over the last year. You’ve probably noticed that more and more other media are showing up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Think video clips, images, blogs. These and other verticals are now given increased prominence through universal search. What does that mean for the marketing folk?

John Tawadros, Chief Operating Officer, iProspect
Shashi Seth, Chief Revenue Officer, Cooliris
Johanna Wright, Director of Product Management, Google
Chris Pierry, Senior Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Search
Erik Collier, VP, Product Management, Ask.com
Todd Schwartz, Group Product Manager, Live Search

All speakers roundly agreed that it’s all about relevance. That is the key reason why the engines have been adding extra content into the search results. It also explains the slow rollout of these features. All engines claim that they are testing user interaction to ensure that they provide the most useful experience.

The process is as follows:

  • Search against all indexes (web, images, video, etc.)
  • Decide what to show only AFTER you have all the data
  • Coverage – decide where to place this content on the page

Take advantage of the prominent new verticals:

  • Publish high-quality, well-captioned images
  • Make video sitemap
  • Create high quality blogs

Blended search is a way to offer semantic content, that is content that more aptly reflects the searcher’s intention.
Yahoo has developed a platform called SearchMonkey that allows publishers, site owners and developers to leverage structured data to enhance the functionality, appearance and usefulness of search results. With SearchMonkey, you have the ability to alter the way certain search engine results pages (SERPs) appear.

We use business rules and editorial judgement to work out which sites rank. There are notable instances where it is still difficult to isolate exact searcher intent. Think of a search for trigonometry. There are numerous great images using trig, but how relevant are these? We use A/B testing in these cases to figure out whether or not to display blended results.

Further coverage on Universal Search by Search Engine Roundtable.

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