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Google Patent's Universal Search

November 06, 2008

Well folks, it finally happened: Google's Marissa Mayer and friends finally have control of search results with various embedded media:
Invented by Bret Taylor, Marissa Mayer, and Orkut Buyukkokten
Assigned to Google
US Patent 7,447,678
Granted November 4, 2008
Filed: December 31, 2003

Bill Slawski first caught my attention with this on his great blog "SEO by the Sea" (a great SEO resource, BTW). Bill has great content, and a very level head when it comes to online marketing.

He points out that SearchMash.com is a Google beta test site for all things Universal Search. And provides a fewe examples.

Let's see if I can add something to that as well, with a project we did nearly a year ago, that is still performing well in the SERPs.

The search term is Visit Oktoberfest (go ahead, try it yourself: Visit Oktoberfest).
We applied the RichContent PMP formula to producing Universal Search results for our client, a foreign language learning program. We used Video, Images, Articles, PR and Podcasting, along with some Forum and Blog posts, and a smattering of social bookmarking updates. We haven't touched the program since February 1 of 2008 (it's November 6, around noon today. I am in Salt lake helping teach a course on how to write and promote a book to Bestseller Status with Michael Drew, a true industry visionary. And I RARELY ever use that term. But Michael is truly the real thing).

Anyhow, back to Google's Universal Search patent, and our display. Here's an example, today, of Universal Search for "Visit Oktoberfest":


You'll see that Google now takes two of the image thumbnails and puts them side-to-side in the results, as a way of providing more results with less noise. The always thoughtful Goog at work here.

You'll also see there are a handful of Google Adwords on the page. Which elements do you see first? Adwords or Universal Search Results? Think on that.

Next we have SearchMash.com, Google's beta US engine. Same search, but with the One Boxes expanded to show visuals:


As you can see, there is no advertising on the page. You also have to open the AJAX One Boxes on the right to see thumbnails and other content posts. It's better than Google's refresh the page approach, but not as good as their existing Universal search results.

I can see a ton of opportunities for companies to leverage Universal Search and own more front page real estate, with more related Mentions (a key you'll see me addressing more and more over time).

The big questions I have: with Google holding the Universal Search patent, will that mean MSN and Yahoo! will not display Universal Search results? Or is a license in the works?

Let me know your thoughts. Lots more activity, but I need to go help some bestseller's get from blog to book.

Oh, and thanks again for the great writeup, Bill. Your insights are always valuable.

Mark Alan Effinger

Paris Hilton & Universal Search

March 11, 2008

You know, I ought to start doing video posts. This whole typing thing is ridiculous.

OK, so today's discovery is about Google's change in search results when you select View 100 Results vs View 10 Results.

Now, based on Google's "stable" nature, you'd think you would get consistent results.

Uh-huh. Nope. From what we've seen over the last 2 months or so, Google moves a few of the listings (aka Mentions) around when you select to view more results on the page.

Why? Search me. But I'd love your insights.

OK, here are a couple of screen shots from a current client in the language Learning market:


OK, so there are two things I'd like to point out:

1) Using RichContent, our client now OWNS 5-7 of the top 10 mentions on Google for Visit Oktoberfest. That's competing with 326,000 other mentions.

2) If you change the browser setting to show 100 Search Results, watch the immediate change:


Now we're looking at very slightly different results. But interestingly, the new additional mention is the second one down from the top result (BTW: That's Universal Search in action: a video thumbnail in the top spot). Why not down at the bottom of the SERPs?

Ask Marissa Meyer. She's the Google Guru here.

OK, so what did we learn?

1) Universal Search results take up a lot of search real estate. I believe that if I was looking to generate clicks in search, Universal Search is a great place to be (left hand position, with a thumbnail, above the fold).

2) Changing your browser settings from 10 to 100 Search Results gives different results. Now, granted, most people never look at the Top 100 Results. We do. But the reason we do we'll save for another post.

3) We kick Paris Hilton's butt. Nuff said about that.

We have some new material coming your way soon, including two whitepapers that will help you better understand Universal Search and how to leverage both new AND existing content... just about everything you have that is text, image, video, audio or XML is ripe for driving search results and ultimately, client engagement and sales.

Here's to putting your media assets to work.
Mark Alan Effinger

Universal "Left Hand" Search

February 06, 2008

It was a small Advertising agency. Tiny, really.

It was built around the fact that I loved great advertising, clever marketing.

And I owned a technology company at the time that NEEDED great advertising. We made and marketed lasers to the entertainment, concert, audiophile and... movie theater industries.

I mention this because one of the first things I learned about newspaper advertising was termed being  "above the fold".

This meant "making sure the advertisement or PR was located above the fold that's halfway down the page".

Above the fold is prime real estate. It's where your eyes begin looking for relevant content (what we call RichContent).

Here's an example for a search for Tom Cruise on Google:


There are two ads on the far right of the page. Those AdWords ads cost money every click (a pretty fair deal, actually. But it can add up. We have one client who spends more than $500,000 per month on those little blue ads).

Better is the news image of Heath Ledger, upper left. That's where your eyes head immediately after the search.

Creating, optimizing and injecting media assets into the web stream so they can provide Universal Search Results (above the fold, to the left) is the holy grail of search marketing at this very moment.

As you familiarize yourself with the RichContent platform, you'll see that you can "point" your media placements in such a way as to drive any given video, image, blog post, article, press release, PDF, etc... into the best position to achieve Universal Search results.

We'll address just how that works in an upcoming post.

View Mark's profile on LinkedIn

To your success, above the fold.
Mark Alan Effinger


It's Universal Search Time!

February 04, 2008

I've been managing my Hot Topics through Google Alerts. A very cool service for a number of applications.

Since the initial launch of Universal Search back in March of '07, I've heard my alert come on from 3-5 times per week.

That is, until October of last year. That's when it started popping.

Then Danny Sullivan began making a big deal of it. And Universal Search made the top 10 list for bloggers and search marketers and managers.

The tipping point.

Now my Universal Search alert goes off from 3-14 times PER DAY.


P.S. The Search Results indicated 329,000 in October. Lots happening here.

I've seen this progression before. Starts with a press release. Then a story. Then a decision leader blogs it. Some sneezers spread it. Suddenly it's all the rage.

Years ago I was in the USAF. And I wanted to start a company. I spotted the cover of TIME magazine, and it had an illustration of the first Test Tube baby.


So, as an aspiring marketer, I called my stepdad and asked for some "venture capital" for my idea of making and selling Test Tube Babies. Once he picked himself off the floor, he told me "no"... but asked for my address.

A week later I received a few cases of test tubes (2,000 test tubes in stainless racks) and a note "Dear Mark, here's your startup funding. Good luck! Jack".

I won't cover the rest of the story here, but please ask... it's both hilarious and amazing. (And it ends on a high note).

Back to the story: I am a voracious reader. 30+ magazines a month. 100 newsletters. Over 100 web pages a day.

Back in 1984, print publications were everything. And a trend I noticed is that when a story made TIME, it was about 30 days until the same story migrated to another top-tier periodical. And on and on it went, until it finally made it to The National Enquirer or Star.

From credible to incredible.

Well, it's not on the cover yet. But it's easy to find "inside" (see cover below).

Universal Search-related technologies made 3 spots on the top 25 Trends for 2008.

Universal Search is with us, my friends. And we've been studying how to optimize multiple media types to help users gain online visibility for more than 4 years. We didn't know. But the handful of little links above the search field was sort of a clue.

The next post will get into something very interesting in regards to following threads. And a hint at a new tracking interface we're integrating in Q2-Q3 of this year.

And if you're interested, I'll also post the Test Tube Babies story. Just ask.
To your Universal Search Success,
Mark Alan Effinger
CEO & Lead Vocals

BTW: Tamar Weinberg has written a list of the top 250 Blog Posts for search marketers for 2007. A must read. Thanks Tamar!

Universal Search is People!

December 27, 2007

To quote a favorite scream from the movie Soilent Green.

I was walking through the process of Universal Search with a client last week. She had no concept of what a "GoogleBot" was. Yahoo Slurp? Not even.

It reminded me that the details of how search engines work are very foreign to most people. I maen, you just type in a word, and it spits out links, right? No mystery. No magic.

In reality, there is so much going on behind the scenes to make that simple search happen.

There are pages being indexed (added to the database).

Mathematic algorythms parsing pages to see how many keywords are on a page; how many links from related sites; what word(s) are used in that link. The URL of that link. The number of other sites that are related to the one being examined...

It goes on forever.

In reality, Universal Search is People: The search engines just want to provide a better, more personal and relevant experience for the user.

Since images, video, blog posts, news and podcasts have become a natural part of our daily viewing, it simply makes sense to bring those to the same page you used to get simple web page searches.

Think on this: In another year or two, people won't think in terms of Web Search vs Universal Search. The line will have blurred (and Google+Yahoo!+MSN+ASK will create pretty containers for all that visual information) to the point that it just becomes "Search".

We hope by that time, rather than explaining spiders, slurp and meta, we can just say we work with the search engines to help your clients find you easier, faster, and in more places.

Mark Alan Effinger

Universal Search Beta 1

October 21, 2007

In the early part of this year, we rolled out our Permanent Media Placement to a handful of select clients. One is seen in the following video. Take a look:

Life Coach Will Marre' On Darwinism
Uploaded by richcontent01

The goal was both to test the platform with some "trusted" clients, and to fine-tune the process.
One client who has become a close friend of the company is Will Marre'.

Now, you may not recognize the name, but Will was the co-founder of Covery Leadership Center, the 7-Habits folks (if you're a coach, corporate trainer or interested in business and life performance, you'll probably know of Covey's 7-Habits as one of the seminal business books of the last 20 years).

Anyhow, it's been 7 months since that media placement, and it's still performing. We've been tracking the long-tail results of it's search ranking in comparison to the other 40+ video sites we've placed this one, and it's interesting to note how each video site ranks over time. I'll cover more about how Google-Bot and other spiders track these media elements. I think you'll be surprised.

It's late, but I'll return tomorrow for some insights on this.

Google's New View

October 17, 2007

Is it me, or did Google recently add an additional navigation bar?
This one reveals itself ONLY if the search results show the respective content?

Here's an example using today's Dalai Lama story:
From what I can tell, the lower navigation bar (upper left, below the Google logo) only shows navigable content within the search results. I tried a different search that showed videos further down the results, and the navigation failed to show-up until I set the Preferences to "Show 100 results". Then the nav returned.

OK, so here's what yo get when you click each respective nav link:
Google Blog search results. (Notice that Video, News and Web are eliminated when each of other nav links are selected).

Google News search results.

Google Video search results.

Now, I wonder if those nav links reorder themselves based on the density or the order of media in the primary Web search? Something we'll experiment with.

Any thoughts? Is this Google's way of keeping a simple orderly search results page while still providing ALL of the media some exposure on the home page?

Is it a way to generate more AdWords showings, quadrupling potential ad exposures... and valuable clicks?

More on this as we investigate.

Mark Alan Effinger

Venrock is Listening...

October 10, 2007


David Beisel (with support from Daphne Kwon) just crafted a very concise and informative blog post at AlwaysOn-Network regarding the mass-migration of search engines to Universal Search (aka Unified Search, 3D Search). It could take reams of copy to cover all the issues. David does it well in one post.

(P.S. If you don't know David's company, it's one of the absolute leading Venture Capital firms in the nation, Venrock, founded by John D. Rockefeller. One of our Advisors is Jacques Nichols, a long-time VC who has worked with Venrock in the past, giving them a thumbs-up).

A couple of quick quotes from David:

Marissa Mayer (of Google) mentions on their blog "(Universal Search is a way) to blend content from Images, Maps, Books, Video, and News into our web results."

But the most powerful part of his overview is this:

Many great businesses were built upon leveraging natural search as a distribution mechanism, and I see the shift towards universal search as opening a door for new players to enter what was a marketplace that previously gave unfair advantage to incumbents on a specific keyword term. Much like the situation for natural text search in the late 90's, there is a new land grab for top search placement for these new media formats (like images, podcast, and video).

David, I couldn't agree more.

We serve all size businesses, and have spent significant time in the emerging business markets with ExitPath and ThoughtOffice. I personally have a big heart for startups.

We concur with David: Startups seem to be behind the curve in adoption of Universal Search as a way to get above the noise.

We're finding companies in the $3-$25 million range really "getting it".

Enterprises ($50 million+) understand the costs of driving online traffic, brand and sales. In our experience, these folks immediately grasp the ROI behind Permanent Media Placement vs One-Time marketing efforts.

INVITATION: If you're a startup trying to make sense of Universal Search or your complete online marketing strategy, contact us. As serial entrepreneurs, we've had plenty of experience in this space, and will gladly share our views, gratis.

To your startup success,
Mark Alan Effinger

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