It is like having a new gadget, this Google Universal Search. Just when you think you might have discovered a pattern of how the vertical search properties are incorporated in the default search results, Google throws you a curveball.
I really like baseball. I don’t play it that well, but I can’t get enough information about it. So, let us go to Google and search for the keyword “baseball”.
Ah ha! Plenty of verticals to drill down: Web, News, Images, Groups, Video.
I noticed that the official site of Major League Baseball dominates the results page, followed by Wikipedia (of course), and news results following not far behind. It is interesting that the only team featured within the MLB results group was the Yankees. Is somebody in Mountain View a Yankees fan? The news result leads with a story about Jason Giambi. You might argue that these results might disappoint, there is more to baseball than the major leagues and their travails.
First result group? Official New York Yankees website. You would expect that. Second search result is Wikipedia. Did you expect that? Close on the heels, a chance to buy tickets. Now we see news results. I conducted the “baseball” and “New York Yankees” searches within minutes of each other. The top news result is not the Giambi story, but the score of yesterday’s game. Bingo! That makes more sense.
You might notice that the only sub navigation for vertical search is now Web and News. What? Are there no groups, images or videos about the Yankees? If only we were so lucky!
You would expect the results to look similar for all the major teams. I tested this by conducting a more meaningful keyword query, “Cleveland Indians”.
Still presented “Web” and “News” verticals, but wait! What is this? The first result is not the official website of the Cleveland Indians. It is Google News results. Huh? Why the disparity? Are Yankees fans less interested in news? And why are there two results for “The Official Site of the Cleveland Indians Homepage”? At least Wikipedia is still there. Amid my confusion, I can always rely on that.
What does this mean to the search engine marketing practitioner? For one, there are more opportunities to find your way on to the first page of Google. News story picked up by Google News? Great, a wider audience may see it now. Video search results are a similar story. Get creative and provide great content. It is the same old story, but a whole new ballgame.
By the way, the Indians are in second place in their division by half a game. The Yankees? Not such a tight race there. Boston leads by nine and a half games.