Will Google universal search kill the vertical search star?

A delayed episode of “the oldest SEM trainee”

Bite sized history of search:

1.0 – The location and frequency of keywords in the copy

2.0 – Links and off the page marketing

3.0 – Vertical search and the lack of competition

4.0 – Your guess is probably better than mine?

Read more here – blended and vertical search

Universal search – a step sideways perhaps?

Googles universal search is soon to be fully rolled out in the UK and it will change the way we search forever.. or will it?

Universal search is Googles big Kahuna (is that even a word?). Basically a U.S search in universal on the term “barack obama” gives you (the results shown):

Book results

News results with official images

The official website

Wikipedia page

My space page

Twitter page

A you tube video

I’m sure you will admit that these are good results and if i were a member of the Bloggs family searching for information about Barack Obama, at first glance this information covers all bases.

What does the Bloggs family want

  • compressed time
  • safety and security
  • no anxiety
  • satisfaction about making a choice

What the Bloggs family does not want

  • to be underestimated
  • to be sold to without anything in return
  • the tyranny of overwhelming choice
  • unable to choose

Does universal deliver this for them in its results?

One thing it didn’t deliver was the official Obama blog? or podcast. If Miss bloggs uses her ipod all the time and a podcast of obama would be really handy to listen to on the way to school for her class talk on American politics. This raises the point of, at the beginning of the buying cycle how would the Bloggs family know what is available if it is not displayed?.

This choice of content is so tailored that it almost delivers the middle of the cycle. But is it restricting the buying cycle for users?.

I then ran the same search on “the worlds leading people engine” Spock, surely these are people focused. I found these results:

Similar to the Google results – People focused.

This led me to think “what will people use to search in the future?. I found a great post on www.readwriteweb about the different types of engines. For more in depth information on these go to search innovation outside Google.

What are the types of search available? i was surprised to find 19

  1. The search homepage – needs no explanation – GoogleYahooMsnASK
  2. Query pre processing / artificial intelligence / NLP – they love stop words, these are “meaning based engines”- hakia and powerset
  3. Personal relevancy(aka personalization) – provide personalisation across a range of sites – collarity
  4. Canned, specialized searches – very specific – simplyhired
  5. New content types / rich media search: integration of different media – audio (odeo), video (Youtube, truveo ), TV (Blinkx ), images (Picsearch, Netvue )
  6. Specialized content search: blogs (Technorati ), news (Topix ), classifieds (oodle )
  7. Clustering engines – tag cloud relationships – quintura and clusty
  8. Restricted data sources – restricted searches to cut out spam – A9
  9. Domain-specific search (Vertical Search) – Retrevo and Pluggd
  10. Parametric search – drill down in vertical search – Shopping.com
  11. Social input – works on crowd semantics – del.icio.us and StumbleUpon
  12. Recommendation search engines – Whattorent.com
  13. meta search engines – Zuula.com (searches 16 engines at once)
  14. Mobile search – slifter and mobot
  15. Human input – humans as the search engine – Chacha and Yahoo answers
  16. Semantic search – visual results – Monitor110
  17. Discovery support – anonymous data collection – Aggregate Knowledge
  18. Results visualization – visual mash ups –Trulia
  19. Results refinement and filters – A search within a result – Healia

That’s 19 types of search, is it possible for One search engine to control them all?

“One engine to rule them all, one engine to find them, one engine to bring them all and in the websphere bind them” (sorry Tolkien)

Would we really want a major engine to control all of these specific types of search, surely the supporting information behind each is so different that results would be mangled by any type of cross over. So lets say we regularly use a few of these engines? why wouldn’t we simply aggregate the results into a personalised page, much like we do now with page flakes or netvibes. This then allows separate searches to appear along side each other on the same page, thereby building your own results pages that run one search across all types of platforms from one search bar. You would then choose what your results pages looks like based on preference and experience of certain engines, I’ve thrown together and idea of this “personalised page below”.

Hope this raises a few questions about what people think the future of search will be. Or just to say how crap my design is or ask why i’m pitching for Obama?. Just to clear things up (spent 2 mins on image in GIMP, got a thing for Hilary Clinton and vertical search is my buddy). Love and world peace, till next time.

Images courtesy of Google SERPS, search engine land, ASK – youtube, odeo, technorati and others (all of whom i love very much)

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