More than likely, you’ve heard the terms “blended search,” “federated search,” or “universal search” (Google’s name for it). They refer to a new form of search engine results that especially affect anyone concerned with search marketing. The term blended search has become the most neutral and popular of the bunch, so we’ll go with that one.
Pulls results from multiple media types
Blended search pulls data from the results of multiple media searches performed by a given search engine, including images, videos, product or shopping information, news, stories, maps and local geographical information. Where these results were once divided by tabs into separate results pages, Google and other engines are now blending those results together in an attempt to give users a single set of results on which to rely for the more complete search results.
The newest player in the blended search arena is Yahoo!. The company is now testing Yahoo! Glue, which is essentially its form of blended search. So far, Glue is only functioning at Yahoo! India. It works only for certain categories of searches, including travel, sports, entertainment, health and stocks. To test Glue, I typed in the name of the Italian carmaker, Fiat. The results are quite thorough, and in some cases very interesting. Several panes are offered up on the page, both from Yahoo! and elsewhere – including Google Blog Search. Other results include images, videos, results from HowStuffWorks.com, Wikipedia entries, and news aggregators.
On the surface, in terms of results, it’s not that different from Google’s Universal Search in that the term (fiat) returns traditional web pages, video, Wikipedia, news and blogs.
Yahoo!’s blended search is better
Comparing the two in more detail, though, some differences come to light. Where Google’s Universal Search searches across Google’s properties including image search, YouTube, and Google News, Yahoo! Glue looks beyond Yahoo! properties to pull results from YouTube, WebMD, HowStuffWorks, and (as mentioned) Google Blog Search. If Yahoo! Glue continues on this way, it will truly be wider blended search than Google’s current Universal Search. Of course, neither one is set in stone, and if Glue starts to unglue Google, they will surely imitate Glue’s better points.
How does this most directly affect ecommerce sites? In order to take advantage of these blended results, ecommerce companies should know that, to expand and augment their forms of online media, web pages alone don’t cut it anymore. Today’s Internet has advanced far beyond what it was when Google’s then-brilliant, single-index PageRank search technology was invented. The web is no longer predominantly static, informational web pages with an occasional bit of audio, video and Flash thrown in for good measure. Instead, it is now a collection of web pages that primarily exist to support a bevy of services and applications.
Use video, podcasts, maps on ecommerce site
The search engines – and particularly Yahoo! with this new Glue model – are catching up to these changes. An ecommerce site that hopes to gain the most search engine traffic needs recognize these changes as well. Incorporate video, podcasts, regular blogging, local search information, and online map interactions as part of your primary online implementation. Seek out social media avenues that offer opportunities to exploit these interfaces. Also, pursue forms of public relations that garner news stories. In other words, actively create a presence in the other media formats that blended search supports. When push comes to shove, a lot of it still has to do with keywords and keyword placement. The use of those keywords will require that they be echoed in these other media formats.
For more information on universal/blended search, check out this interview with Lisa Wehr, the CEO and Founder of Oneupweb.