Take a look at the sample Google search engine results page (serp) below and see if you notice anything in particular.
No, I never was what you would call a “headbanger” but I did love Quite Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” and listen to it to this day. The video for that song was one of my favorites on MTV, back when MTV actually showed music videos.
But, let me point out some things about Google’s search results page for this heavy metal group.
Let’s see, the first result is a link to Google’s Quiet Riot albums page. The second result is a link to Google’s news page. Hmmm, result #4 isn’t what you would call a Google property, but the last I heard Google dishes out the ads for MySpace. Results #5 and #6 are YouTube videos, another Google property.
Out of the top six results (those above the fold), four are Google and one is a Google partner. That leaves one non-Google related search result. Naturally, that’s Wikipedia.
Get the picture? Google’s roll out of Universal Search earlier this year makes it entirely possible for Google’s own pages and its partner pages to dominate the result pages. It’s not unimaginable for a results page to consist of Google image, map, news, book and video links, pushing the rest of us down and potentially off of the page.
Frankly, I see this as Google’s overall plan to do battle with social networking sites. In order to rank in many cases, your only option is to be a part of the Google “social network” with popular videos that can be dished out by way of YouTube, news that shows up in Google News, optimized images that can show up (frequently at the top of the search results page), local maps and so forth.
What can you do? Start optimizing now. I know a lot of SEOs who are taking a wait and see attitude on Universal Search because they don’t see results that are so dominated by Google very often. I suspect that as time goes on, that could change, so now is the time to get with it. And, optimizing for Universal Search can only help your web presence in the long run.
So, is Google really planning to take over its own serps? The answer is a resounding “when it suits them” if you ask me.
Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. 😉
PS. You can also read this post over at SearchNewz.