Search is a constantly evolving and changing entity, and this year has certainly seen more than its fair share of change. Possibly highest on the list has been the move to blended or universal results. Much of the focus and discussion has revolved around Google Universal, but they aren't the only game in town and all the majors have now entered into blended results to some extent or another.
This presents interesting opportunities and challenges. Those who focus on developing a fuller and broader Web presence, adding video, news, blogs, images, local content and social media to the mix, greatly increase their opportunities to gain rank positions across all the engines. The challenge however will be that the results across the engines may become even more varied, as each engine puts its own spin on the blending.
It's still very early in the game as the engines continue to ramp up and tweak their algos as they evolve and introduce searchers to blended results. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of blended search across the different engines. Today, results vary within the engines. Some searches show little to no signs of blended results, and others, show considerably more.
For an interesting example, let's take a look at a single search across the engines and see how they compare. Since we are talking about how blended search is evolving, what better search term than "cavemen" to use as a test. It is an interesting term for our test because it has such a wide frame of reference and actually poses a rather interesting challenge for the engines. Depending on the searcher, it may carry very different connotations:
- Prehistoric humans
- The definition of the word itself
- The ad campaign for the Geico commercials
- The newly launched sitcom on ABC based on the Geico commercials
Here are screenshots of that search in Google, Yahoo, MSN (Live Search) and Ask. It is interesting to see the variety of the impact of blended results across the engines, from very little to considerable impact. As you experiment with different searches though, you may see the engines' position on this scale shift up or down.
Along with calling out some of the specific blended results, I've also noted some of the refinement options, such as related searches, narrowed or expanded searches, and Yahoo's new "Search Assist."
While the survival of the new Cavemen series may be in question, the continued evolution and survival of blended search is without doubt.