Orion Panel: Universal, Blended and Vertical Search: Search result multiplicity is not a new phenomenon, but recent advancements will guarantee the world of search and marketing will be changing forever. Before you attend this week's optimization and best practices sessions, hear from industry gurus about how search, marketing and information seeking is changing the industry that follows the search.
Moderators: Kevin Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch, Kevin Heisler, Executive Editor, Search Engine Watch
Speakers: Mike Grehan, Founder and CEO, Searchvisible Ltd., Andrew Goodman, Principal, Page Zero Media, Brad Goldberg, GM, Search Business Group, Microsoft Corporation, James Lamberti, Senior Vice President, Search and Media, comScore, Inc, Jim MÃƒÂ¼ller, Tech Lead, Universal Search, Google.
It's Mike Grehan who begins the session or rather the "Dove beauty workshop" as he calls it, with a couple of searches to illustrate Google's Universal Search. He describes the utility of some of the search results, and that someone might wish to pay Google for it. He follows this exercise with the example of "Bourne Ultimatum" which yields "Google Promotion" paid ads, "Get Showtimes," "One Box" amongst other search results.
Kevin Ryan the moderator then runs a footage of the latest Ask.com ads, James then explains a slide from Comscore, he describes the integrated search and its dependence on the content that's owned by the search engines companies. He suggests a changing value proposition on the part of consumers, and that there's a need for retraining to see and make sense of the search engine result page. He then quickly moves on to the data which clearly shows the increase in search traffic, the year 2006 had 20 billion more searches performed as compared to 2005, and since then the numbers have swelled up to 35 billion more searches.
He then talks about the opportunities that exist as a consequence of integrated, but he also mentioned the catch of competition that it brings along. To prove this competition he illustrates with the example of Google. Google's data for three years from 2005 through 2007 shows a drop in the number of paid ads by Google in the SERPs. Like in 2005 it was 40% had a paid ad from Google, in 2006 it increased to 70% only to fall down to 50% in 2007. Apart from Yahoo! Who's figures remaining more or less constant the other engines show a downtrend. He said that Comscore's gonna measure this space with what they call as "success rate." The last slide had Google on top with 79%, when it came to clicks on the first result pages.
It's then Mike who takes over the mic and discusses the way search is changing for the better. He recalls how his kids got a Facebook from the "10 blue links" and suggested that the Facebook users would ask for more than just this.
Next, its Jim who takes over and discusses some of the researching that they've done which includes a video on a result page itself. He goes on to state the policies that Google and MSN have. Like MSN clearly express their undesirability towards having paid inclusion, and Google clearly differentiates between the paid content and the organic content. He suggested that more deliberations need to be made by them about where the ads should appear, including the local ad content, so that the paid content is clearly identifiable.
He suggests that people appear to like the Universal Search, however there isn't enough hardcore date to prove the point, he suggests that it's important to have data. He thinks that the search engines would change, albeit slowly "like a glacier." And suggests that sometimes the consumers aren't all that ready for the changes that are implemented, as they've already got into the groove of doing things in a particular way and it takes time to adapt to the changes.
MSN's Brad suggests a need to analyze the behavior or the users to know what click and also why, so that user experience can be enhanced. Ryan intervenes to ask whether Ask.com is already on the move, to which James agrees and says that they've maintained their position, infact they've outdone AOL. He says that Ask 3D is a example to that effect.
The discussion then moves over to SEO and Ryan questions, that given the changes does SEO still has a good shelf life or not. Mike responds and says that every so often he writes "SEO is dead," he makes so many people completely outraged. He said it is expected over the years that people would become more and more choosy about bettor content. Jim then throws up a reminder that it's not happening big time this time. Mike continues and says don't stop optimizing now, however in the future there would be more than just optimization. Then James adds that the value of search is going to be important but not many people are talking about it.
The next question is posed by Kevin he wants to know from the panel to "tell him something he doesn't know." According to Brad the search should be similar to the way in which it is now, that is query based. The point of emphasis however is that most of it would be dictated by the users experience. Jim opines, that the vertical search engines would be a part of the other search engines such as Google. Jim also feels that it is important to understand that the search engine users are busy and says that they might just want to go to one place to find what they're looking for, meaning Universal Search. He says, like it happens when people go to Google maps to find info. The future should see merging of verticals to a single interface.
James also points out to this trend and illustrates with the example of Expedia, which gets you information when you want to travel better than any other search engine. So the trend is towards richer content wherein you'd have just one thing that satisfies everyone.
One person from the audience Barbara Coll, suggests that when the work involves that of working with large organizations you are required to optimize lots of different type of content. So the task gets exponentially difficult, like when you have to work with 17 different divisions and you've to educate everyone about the optimization. Mike agrees with her and says that it is indeed true that the time need to educate increases.