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SEARCH MARKETING: Universal search


In May last year, Google made the biggest change yet to its search results by introducing universal search to its organic search engines results pages. MSN followed suit in July 2007, as did Yahoo in October. So one year on, what impact has universal search - also known as blended search - had on the user experience, PPC advertisers and those who are trying to climb the organic listing ladder? And maybe more importantly, what opportunities might universal search hold for the B2B sector?

What is Universal Search?
Universal Search is a term coined by Google to describe its blended search method, which mixes results from its vertical search engines, such as news, video and images with standard results. These vertical search engines aren't new - they've been part of Google search for years, visible above the standard search area in tabs such as images and maps. But few searchers used them - they were effectively invisible. So Google decided to blend these vertical search services with 'regular' results to increase visibility and usage. That may turn out to be good news for users, but it also reduces listing space available for standard web page results.