Taking Advantage of Google's Universal Search
By Vanessa Salvia, 7/15/07
It's a Google world--excuse me, make that universe--and we all just live in it. On May 17, 2007 the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog
reported a change in their search results. Google's Universal Search
blends results from more than just the web in order to provide more
relevant and useful results. Now a Google search returns not only web
pages, but video, news, images, maps, and books. In time, the service
should improve, but after a couple of months to review the change the
verdict on its usefulness is mixed.
For the webmaster, the change
has the greatest potential. In a nutshell, more results for video,
news, images, maps, and books may now be returned in a web search, so
if you have searchable content in these areas, Universal Search may
drive more visitors to your site.
Here are some ways to take advantage of Universal Search:
Basic Web Search
Optimize your content in general, using
standard SEO theory. Integrate relevant forms of media into your pages,
and add images to your content if you don't already do this.
If your site includes news content, your site can be submitted to Google News
. Once your site is included, you can inform Google of new content by submitting a News Sitemap
From an SEO perspective, optimize any press releases and post titles if
you have a blog. There are a flood of news postings and press releases
every day, but ignoring this potential is a lost opportunity.
If you archive news content either for free or subscription, you can submit it to the News Archive Search
Image search is often neglected. First, optimize the names of jpgs, gifs, and other image
files. Use alt tags to make sure images are properly labeled. If you have a blog with
images, include the search terms for the image in the post title, the image name, and
relevant content surrounding the image.
The Official Google Webmaster Central Blog says, "If your site includes images, you can
opt-in to enhanced Image Search
in webmaster tools, which will enable [Google] to gather additional metadata about your images using [Google's] Image Labeler.
This helps [Google] return your images for the most relevant queries. Also ensure that you are fully taking advantage of the images
on your site."
If your online business is in a particular geographic location, you can provide
information to Google using their Local Business Center
. This information helps
Google provide locally relevant results to searchers both in web search and on
Google Maps by listing your business or website in Google Local and Yahoo Local.
It can take a (long) while to get added, so start now!
Submit your site to directories like Yahoo Directory
, discussed in the April 2007 SiteBeat
Since August 2006, Google has allowed printable online coupons on Google Maps
searching for local information, discount coupons from businesses are displayed on
Google Maps search results and business listing pages. These coupons
can be printed out directly from a computer and redeemed at a physical
These coupons are available in Google Maps at no cost to businesses and
consumers. Log into the Local Business Center at Google Maps to enter
in coupon information.
To find a coupon for a business in your area, visit Google Maps
Video content can be hosted on Google Video, YouTube, or a number of other video
hosting providers. For relevant video search results on Google Video and YouTube,
searchers can play the video directly from the search results page or they can view a
thumbnail of the video then click over to the player for other hosting providers. Check
out Google Video
, and brainstorm ways to integrate video into your site.
Link to videos from blog posts, other users or other websites, and optimize the titles.
It is impossible to overestimate the huge popularity of these video sites, so get in on
the action. Take whatever product you sell and do something silly or unexpected with it.
Comment on other people's videos in the same category that your video inhabits, to
encourage people to view your videos and link to them.
Blogs about any topic are so popular these days. If you have some extra time every
week (I know, who am I kidding, right?), consider blogging. Blog about your industry,
conferences you attend, comments you get about your products, success stories, ways
you use the products you sell, or the things you do in your spare time, and places you
visit. Blogs readily incorporate photos, video, and content, along with an RSS feed, so
that is an easy way to tell search engines that you have more to offer than just basic
Starting a blog has never been easier, and it's free. At Blogger
, all you have to do is create an account, name your blog, and choose a template to start publishing. At WordPress
, all you need is an email address.
Books, Patent, Product, Finance, Directory, and Catalogs Search
These searches probably won't apply to most people, but they're good to be aware of. If
you have a patent, you can probably get into the patent search. Book scanning is a
growing field but not very practical at this point. Google Finance Search
) can sometimes link to News Search, especially for information like stock quotes. Google Directory
is a collection of websites that are ranked based on their importance.
This enables the highest ranked (which they equate with highest
quality) pages to appear first as top results for any Google directory
category. Catalog Search
requires uploading offers and products to Google Base. (Check out Catalogs FAQ
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