Universal Search landed in Australia

Monday, 12 November 2007

The popular Universal Search from Google has finally arrived in Australia. After a launch in May in the US, Google has decided to bring the Universal Search in the Australian market. You might have noticed that Google Maps are now intergrated in search results when you search for a regionalised phrases. Progressively Google will integrate other media such as Image, Video, RSS feeds and so on in the search results.
If you type 'John Howard' in Google.com.au, you will notice that the search results include news releases, images and blog results... Welcome to the Universal Search.

What is Universal Search?

Universal search is not a new concept. Back in the 90's Altavista proposed a universal search approach with its search engine. Ask.com has also pionneered this approach before. Universal Search provides more 'blended' search results. Instead of providing text-based search results, Google aims at intergrating Video, Blogs, News, RSS feed, Images. According to Google Australia's Product Specialist, Jeremy Wood, universal search will make it easier for the user to access relevant information in different forms. Instead of clicking on the various tabs on top of the Google search field, the users will have access to 'all the information in one spot'

Why moving to Universal Search ?

Why will Google move to Universal Search? Google has more than 80% of the search market in Australia, so why changing everything... The answer to this question will depends on who you are talking to.

Google officials love attributing any of the changes they make to a 'greater relevancy for the user' and a better service to the internet community. Fair enough, they have the intention at least.
But Google is a company that aims at making profits, not helping the community.

The latest Google Geek Night in Sydney has clearly demonstrated Google's intention to sell more services than their paid search program. Google has diversified its strategy with a handful of newly (re)developed products (Google Maps, Google Gadgets, Google Docs)and they obviously want to get a Return On Investment. Google has also acquired You Tube and once again maximizing the synergies is the idea.

Moreover, the latest analyst day in Mountain View also reinforce Google's strong desire to 'increase the monetisation of its services'. Nick Fox, director of product management of the advertising division declared to the investors and analysts that 'there are substantial headroom in the monetisation of our services'.
Universal Search is the solution! It allows Google to feature its range of products
- Video: You Tube
- Blogs: Blogger
- News: Google News
- RSS Feeds: Feedburner
- Image: Picassa

in one of the most popular spot on the internet, the Google Search results.

The Universal search is also a way for Google to increase the 'stickiness' of its pages. At the moment, people are conducting searches, but leave the page as soon as they have found what they are looking for. If Google want to maximise users exposure to advertising message (Adwords), they need to make people stay longer.
Universal search is also the solution. If you want to play a video that came up in the search engine results, you won't be re-directed to the video website, but Google will play it directly in the results page so that you can enjoy and possibly click on an ad.

If you were Google (and wanted to make money), it will be pretty stupid not to move to Universal Search. Now if the search users get more relevant results it is a plus!