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February 19, 2008

SES London 08: Impact of Universal Search, Orion Panel

By Li Evans

Dsc_3157 Kevin Ryan opens up the panel showing how universal search is affecting the way the world searches.  Value propositions of search improving, re-trained on how to view search.  All of us on the web search at least 1 time during a month but most on average search 74 times.

From a marketers perspective universal search is doing some pretty interesting things.  Users are now clicking on the ads more in universal search.  Search results pages as destinations how do you measure success.  More creative options in search marketing, more view-thru value to search marketing, today's engines raising barriers to entry.  Consumers are warming up to universal search.

Mike Grehan showing how maps were integrated with a search for "Seattle airport".  Local results are being blended in.  Then show "dove beauty workshop", shows the video and how everything else is also commercial.  If there's video, and other interesting things, less click the paid.  Now shows Bourne ultimatum videos.  This is a really exciting time for us as marketers.

Jeff Revoy from Yahoo, Mike Grehan, Andrew Goodman from Page Zero, and Adam Lasnik from Google are on this panel. 

Kevin asks Adam what a search evangelist does.  His focus is on webmaster communications.  He takes what he learns from all of us back to the engineers.

Kevin:  Where are we headed with universal search?

Mike:  Ten blue links have to go, there's so much more you can do.  The world of web 2.0 the broadband era, there's so much more going on.  You can produce richer content.  There is all this interactivity going on.

Adam:    How do we decide what videos to show and from what sites.  It's primarily a technical consideration.  We can trust YouTube because we own it.  They chose MetaCafe because they know they could support it.  It's got to work so the experience is good for the user.

Jeff:  First off we know our own properties can handle it and its a starting point.  We're trying put relevant results out there for the user.

Mike:  More people are paying attention that they can provide this interactive material for their customers.

Andrew:  You are lucky if you find a company who already have this content readily available.  But most of the sites are still broken.  The challenge is to be visible in search.  There's 8 or 10 places now, not just 1 or 2.

Kevin:What percentage of results are universal/blended?

Adam:  All queries are going through universal.  It's still a small percentage that are showing universal, and it depends.  Esoteric concepts are much less likely to show universal results.

Jeff:  Yahoo is trying to understand intent.  They want to get where there destination is.  Giving users the information they need/want, and varies with query class.

Kevin:  What are the top considerations when it comes to considering what countries this should be rolled out to?

Adam:  It has been rolled out over globally.  One good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that as the indexes for each country get larger, more universal search results will appear.

Mike:  I see a lot more of it in the U.S.

Jeff:  Search assist is global.  Varies by market and language but it is all about relevance, markets & experience.

Kevin:  Mike what do you expect to see by 2010?

Mike:  If your listed in the results as just a "blue link" and your competitor is listed with rich media, everyone is going to want the rich media.

Andrew:  Advertisers want rich media results

Adam:  I can imagine the folks who work on adwords want to make their results to be most relevant.  Just as the natural search folks want theirs to be relevant, so these efforts will definitely remain separate.  Also, for clarification, no one pays for google local listing (natural ones that appear in the top 5 or 10 listed next to a map)

Jeff:  No doubt advertisers want it.  It comes down to relevance for the user.

Kevin:  Lets talk about social components and how they affect search?

Mike:  Has created a new breed of spam.  However, these social components are now becoming more relevant.

Andrew:  How do you measure converstaion? It can be taken to far, but it needs to be managed.  Its discounted until you can find a measurement.  It's fuzz but companies need to be on top of it, especially to respond to issues.

Kevin:  How do you filter out the garbage?

Jeff:  Social search adds tremendous value.  Yahoo! uses FUSE (Fine, Use, Share, Expand) to help w/ filtering out the garbage.

Adam:  When you give people the opportunity to contribute you get a lot of junk.  However, you also get diamonds and nuggets of gold.  There's a lot to be said about the wisdom of crowds, what are they most interested in?   Google will use any means necessary to protect the quality of search results.  They also send out experiments to understand what users say is "good".

Jeff:  There's no secret sauce, but they put a lot of value on the "reputation" of the user.

Kevin:  Still a lot of testing going on, what do you see with the next generation of how to filter these results?

Mike:  Search Engines have to provide the most relevant results.  Google and Yahoo! will need to support showing results that use multiple platforms.

Andrew:  I hope they don't become too internal (i.e. Google only displaying Google Video and YouTube videos)

Adam:  We are going to do what we can to keep the results relevant, however they want to be open to multiple platforms.

Jeff:  Yahoo! is all about openness.

The session then opened up to questions from the audience.  Overall this was a great discussion hearing from both sides of the industry, people doing the work and the search engines.

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» Paris Hilton from RichContent Guide to Universal Search
You know, I ought to start doing video posts. This whole typing thing is ridiculous. OK, so today's discovery is about Google's change in search results when you select View 100 Results vs View 10 Results. Now, based on Google's stable nature, you'd th... [Read More]

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