How you and your company can survive universal search

Of 1.2 billion recent Google search queries, roughly 220 million contained a universal returned result. Listen up, folks: The onset of universal search makes dominating the first page of search results more competitive. What you lack could be the thing that hurts your ranking and visibility on the landscape.

The universal approach to searching blends video, images, news, maps, wiki, books, blogs and standard text links into a single set of returned search results. What was once a series of subdirectories is being folded into one and what lies ahead is a bottleneck — and your competition just multiplied.

As search engines test this concept, you’ve probably noticed results bouncing all about. Now what? Just show up everywhere — video, audio, images, blogs, book listings, news releases, etc.

Invest in vertical search. With universal search, Google might scan a range of its vertical search engines, then decide if a result from a book search is more relevant than a keyword match from a Web site. So saturate the landscape to raise the likelihood that at least one of your listings will show up on the first page.

Vertical searches include blog, book, image, local (Zip Local), news (Google News) and video searches (YouTube). If your site has news content, submit your site to Google News, leting them know your content has been updated by submitting a news sitemap. Submit historical content to the news archive search.

Become an “authority owner,” one who commands top rankings using wiki posts, news, blogs, etc. The search landscape is no longer about you and your Web site — searchers have more control than ever. If they aren’t coming to you, reach out to them and engage them on their terms.

In universal search, the future lies in Digital Asset Optimization (DAO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO).

SMO involves generating publicity through social media and online communities, e.g., RSS feeds, Digg buttons, etc. DAO takes inventory of your company’s digital assets (text, images, audio and video) and matches them with the appropriate distribution channel to broaden reach and improve visibility.

Roughly 47% of online users look for content, so proven SEO tactics, such as relevant link-building and keyword targeting for your pages, continue to build credibility with search engines.

But continual testing and experimentation is the key to success.

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