Blended Search: Why you need to be thinking universal…

by Peter Young on January 26, 2009 · 0 comments

According to comScore Video Metrix, more than 124 million unique viewers in the U.S. – 78% of the country’s total online population – viewed 9.5 billion online videos during December 2007. This figure is expected to increase over the coming months as organisations continue to explore the channel as a medium of promotion – and certainly the Google deal to allow media firms to sell their own ads on Youtube can only spur video on to greater levels of success.

Blended search engine optimisation (and video search optimisation) has therefore become a fundamental part of many search marketing campaigns over the last couple of months. One of the more interesting results of this behaviour, particularly given the effect it has on search behaviour. In a study undertaken by Enquiro, digital assets such as PR, Video and Images had a startling effect on how people interacted with search engine results pages.

Source: Enquiro 2008.

Where these blended search results have been incorporated, they acted as a natural barrier, something which we can naturally use to segment the page, and as such density of eyefall tends to fall in areas above the blended result. This could be attributed to the variances in Googles display of such ads, which often appear either in the first results area, or just above/below the fold. Take for example the following results, you will notice many of these results vary between the top result (often in the case of products), to roughly position 3 or 4 (in the case of images, video and PR)

Google product results appearing prominently on relevant searches

Google product results appearing prominently on relevant searches

PR results showing just above the fold

PR results showing just above the fold

Video and Image results showing just above the fold

Video and Image results showing just above the fold

Such behaviour within the search results, often points to the increased importance and role of paid search advertising, and the increased importance of priority organic visibility, something which is obviously becoming more and more personalised as Google release new products such as SearchWiki and Preferred sites. These blended search results thus become more and more important factors in terms of influencing search behaviour in a manner in which we can control.

At this point I should point to some research done by iProspect last year, in collaboration with Jupiter Research. A number of interesting results came out from the study including:

  • 36 percent of search engine users click “news” results within blended search results, while only 17 percent click a “news” result after conducting a news-specific search
  • 31 percent of search engine users click “image” results within blended search results, while 26 percent click an “image” result after conducting an image-specific search
  • 17 percent of search engine users click “video” results within blended search results, while only 10 percent click a “video” result after conducting a video-specific search While images are the most clicked type of result after a vertical-specific search, news items are the most clicked type of result within blended search results

This not only shows how these blended search results impact in terms of behaviour on the search engine results pages, but also highlight how they themselves alter how people naturally would search for these assets in their normal environment.

Given many organisations have existing assets in place, and often incumbent agencies which can provide the offline strategy – it often suprises me as to the amount of organisations that utilise these assets digitally. If you aren’t fully optimising your digital assets – maybe you should ask yourself…

Why not?

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