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Search Insider Summit: Capitalizing on Universal Search




Do we need to change our entire campaigns to capitalize on universal search? Find out what you can do to better dominate the universal SERPs and grab searchers’ attention.

Session description: Google, Yahoo, Ask, and other search engines have changed the way they present search results, and the changes have major implications for interactive marketers. The still emerging trend, referred to as unified search, integrates vertical content into the main natural search results page. Images, videos, news and blog posts, previously accessible only by clicking between tabs in the results, now appear in the main query results. How can you adjust your search strategy to capitalize on the changes? Learn what types of content have grown in importance and hot to capitalize accordingly.
Moderator: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing and publisher of the TopRank Online Marketing blog

Lee Odden
Explanation of universal search. Execution is different: Ask 3D—3 columns; disambiguation/results/images & video
Live: harder to prompt video
Yahoo & Google: video mixed in
(examples: Shrek III, Nintendo Wii—integrating Google News, Blog search results (as of yesterday))
1/2-2/3 of the audience executing universal search right now
Pushing site on several different channels: Flickr, YouTube, etc.

Chris Heuer
Search is the beginning of a conversation. Social media is also a conversation—search is the end, social is the beginning. Text, audio, video & stuff by people and for people. You’re people, corporations are people.

Success requires clarity of purpose. The original idea round SEO was to help people find answers (ie your content). Universal search is a natural evolution—provide many different types of info. It’s in the best interest of the searcher. Universal search simply requires search marketing professional to apply keyword optimization to all channels. It’s still about “filling the funnel.”

Put the searcher first. Serving their interest is the purpose, form which you leverage the “because effect.” Interruption isn’t welcome. Roadblocks are . . . blocking.

Serve the market and you serve the marketer.

Making media optimized to engage searcher in the conversation is the optimization of marketing. Universal means thinking about other media in the same way you used to think about landing pages.

Paul Bruemmer
Have you responded to capitalize on the changing face of search engines?
How can you adjust search strategy to capitalize on these changes?
Learn what kinds of content have grown in importance (and how to capitalize on those).

Is Google Backing off from universal search? (15 Oct search insider column, Mark Simon). Very thought provoking

  1. Are users confused by natural search?
  2. Does universal search make Google money?
  3. What about Google’s tabs image/video/etc?
  4. Does it erode relevancy?

He’s going to rebut those arguments.

Understand Google’s culture: It was created as a research project; heavily anchored in math. Large amounts of free, relevant info. Successful search & advertising DNA created off the back of organic listings. It’s not about paid search; all about user experience.

Google’s marketing and PR people do a very good job of distracting analysts and journalists from Google’s core activities (it’s all analytical, mathematical—not emmotional)
infolab.standford.edu/~backrub/Google.html — their initial abstract/plan in 1997, got them the grant at Stanford

Is research history?
Google wants to bring DGM, video product reviews, catalogs, books, local, maps, products, web, finance image blogs etc etc etc. Research probably isn’t history.

Do people trust consumers’ opinion? yes—he expects a big growth pattern in video
Video customer reviews
Yideo product demos—videos go viral, videos in conversion
He who hesitates is lost—get to work on universal search

Bridget Shea
She’ll play devil’s advocate. Any shift in the organic listings will have affect on paid listings. We can see that visually the SERP is going to change. For any of you that read the Enquiro research with 2010 SERP, the changes are certainly even more drastic.

It looks like a major shift, but I think this will have a very small impact on the core fundamentals of search campaign management.

We’re always getting back to the fact that it’s nothing new that search has all these dynamic variables. We always have to look at “cost allowable” CPL, etc. Core fundamentals—if you have that intact, you’re ready. It’s just another variable to deal with. Like seasonality—holiday season doesn’t mean you have to scrap everything you’re doing the rest of the year. Like competition—new companies or products don’t mean everything you’ve done is completely irrelevant.

It’s very math-driven, especially in paid side.

The image is most obvious. If you put the image in the middle of the organic listings—it changes the way the users’ eyes go. If you’re getting more consideration on the organic side, you may get less consideration on the paid side.

Another thing that might change is average position. Ask3D—overall average position. We might have 2 average positions—overall and within each individual media category.

Things that impact consumers can then impact marketing. One idea: price comparison within SERP—you might start to see a shift that could be big. If consumers can find all the info that they need and there’s a corollary B&M—if the SERP has reviews, specs, info, local address and store hours could drive your online sales offline.

Some agencies will be better positioned already, but I don’t think we need to scrap everything we know—make improvements and upgrades to move quickly with it. Agencies and SEOs that have full service are better prepared—already doing paid, SEO, video, etc.

An area where agencies could make up some ground, certainly with video in SERPs—take the same video for a tv campaign, cut it up, get it online and add online CTAs, voila.

Additional data points mean we need to not rely on our old ways of doing analytics—big upgrade there.

You can’t rely on one great high-caliber analytics guru—find systems to make all those analytics replicable and scalable to grow business and not get bogged down in data.

Flexible technology. If we’re gonna throw in other variables, think about all the different parameters in query strings—agencies with proprietary technology and those that can modify and track parameters and conversions will definitely be in a good place.

Lee’s question: What do you think is the low-hanging fruit for the organizations that are already publishing different kinds of content to take advantage of universal search.
Paul: certainly along the lines of what Bridget was saying. Those who have the materials need to just get them up and get it going. That’s very low hanging fruit
Chris: the linking behavior around it—having an index page of your images, give images relevance
Paul: Weather.com did a great job implementing their video for earth forecast. Their video pageviews have increased 400% by essentially creating a site map of their videos with thumbnails, links, text, etc. They’re doing a great job of organizing that data.
Bridget: It’s kind of the last check on the box is once we go live on their TV campaigns is that we launch is on Google video as well
Chris: there are all these sites where you can put up your content for free (blip, flickr, youtube) and link back to the brand
Lee: promoting those different media types—upload your video to your site and submit it to those free sites.

Chris: it’s about serving your clients’ needs. They need this, they demand it, someone is going to serve those needs. Are you going to find a way to serve those needs or will you partner out?
Paul: you’ve gotta have content, and if you don’t you have to look at all the other media and find a way to provide the content or be lost in the sea of data.

Is there a preference if there’s something appropriate, tagged appropriately, it’s more likely to come up in SERPs (if video or image)?
Paul: Universal search is not where it’s gonna be 12 months from now. They’re throwing a lot of switches. There will no doubt be a mathematical algorithm to find what people want.
Bridget: they’re smart about how they’re testing. There’s a reason why the page isn’t filled with just video and images. You only see maps when doing a local type search.
Lee: Google Blogoscoped posted screen shots of universal paid results. Very much dynamic and in flux.
Paul: it’s embryonic at this point. Not a foregone conclusion about its direction.
Chris: I don’t see a future where you’d see 10 video results. It comes down to individual preferences and learning styles. Some people are number-driven, some story-driven. 5-1 difference in video v. audio downloads. Yeah, they’re going to other tabs and just listening to it play. It’s a matter of individual preference—may set in profiles.
Paul: You hit the nail on the head there. Gord interviewed Marissa Mayer a while ago: people are tired of network television telling them the news. People want the news the way they want the news and they’ll get it from Goolge. Google provides it to you in a vast, universal way. That’s the direction.
Lee: difference between choosing your content and random access content.

Paul, you showed a shot where there was a right-rail video pd search. Was that live?
Paul: That was live and it was gone the next day—one ad, two “videos” results, two “products” results (very like Ask 3D).

Video is easier—like to be entertained. It’s a lot less of recall and retainment. The advent of more advertainment is going to make it harder to get ROI than it is today. The world may be bigger, but I think it would be harder to dive good ROI through video
Paul: Marketers have their centric POV in getting ROI, but that’s not consumers/searchers POV and goal.
Chris: people don’t want to be advertised to. It’s an interruption. Social graph—how do we monetize it? I’m there to be social, not to transact. Same with YouTube. People don’t want marketers in a lot of their conversations because they’re trying to get them to do things they don’t want to do. But helping them do what they want to do? That’ll work.
Followup: but why should I, then, work on my entertaining video when it doesn’t help?
Bridget: It’s not just entertainment. It should have a strong CTA, it needs to be clear what you want the do after they view it.
Lee: it’s the content that gives them value but also has a CTA
Chris: this shift is NOT about selling, it’s about helping people buy. When they’re ready, they need to be able to find it

Search is a textual medium—Ask 3D commercial. I’m just wondering if this is what the searcher wants, I would submit that if someone’s going to a search engine, if they want an image or video (which they often indicate in query). If it’s not indicated in the query, I don’t think it’s what they’re looking for. There are some improvements that universal does great, but are we getting away from the simple elegance that search provided?
Lee: I have to believe that search engines are looking at click stream data—for this type of query, what type or result they go to, and factoring that data in future SERPs.
Bridget: Huge shift on local with maps onebox for local search. It comes down to preferences and local.
Paul: remember the common denominator. Google is anchored in math. As humans, we can’t do Google’s calculations. It’s gonna be very complex, how they arrive at this.
Followup: from the users’ perspective, what do they want? Are they looking for a rich media experience every time?
Paul: that’s what they’re trying to find out. Google has 30 data centers costing $2b/yr, 400k servers—they’re into it.
Chris: people often don’t know what they’re searching for. They think they can search and just find it. See what they want in SERPs. Helping to direct them more specifically to the things they’re looking for. [requiring less query refinement]

From the advertisers’ standpoint, and working with our clients, it’s around what are people doing when they’re at your site. Are they watching your test drive video? Put it in Google video and drive traffic there. A lot of this going around keyword up there. Not every result gives a universal result. It’s back on you—what are people doing on your site?
Chris: Marketing has popularly become associated with selling. The original idea of marketing is matching the value of a product/service with the audience, the people who will drive the most value from it. If we get back to that, it will changes things drastically.

Would you say our low-hanging fruit should be not only including images in Flickr and video on YouTube, but creating a universal LP—include images, video, etc. If you have a product, you want to show everything on that same page—blog, review, text, video, image.
Bridget: you’re gonna want to test that. When you have two product offerings, we do a lot of landing page testing where we give them a very clear decision. You might offer both paths. We don’t know if it’s termite or pest control. If we let them choose. If it’s a broader term that’s a brand term, again it’s going to follow the same principles. More likely: take whether broad or specific query to match to pages like you’re doing now.
Paul: example—Amazon. Long long product pages, everything on there. Do well in organic and paid.
Chris: social media allows you serve a/b markets. Helps you create serendipity—long tail keyword. Those 20 people at the end of the spectrum that call it something else. More content is better!

Yesterday we heard 80% of clicks are on organic. One more tool bar on Ask, no organic results ATF (well, images and video are probably organic results)
Lee: Clicks on search results are on organic side. For folks who aren’t doing SEO, it’s moot. But if you are, and landscape is changing on types of content represented, what’s getting clicks—it’s an opportunity for you

Gord: We understand images much faster than text. It’s a much longer cycle to understand & process text. Spend a little less time with the spreadsheets, spend a little more time looking at what makes your customer tick.