This past Wednesday, Marissa Mayer - Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience - announced the pending release of a universal search platform that will bring together current search results with images, maps, news, photos etc... in one centralized (err... universal) location. You can even preview some of the different ways Google has been experimenting with search technology over in the Google Labs page here: Google Experimental Search.
It seems like an intuitive move. People probably search less through the other search verticals and as Google algorithms improve with technology, why not enable one search request to yield more than your standard text-based results?
The biggest challenge to this will be how quickly users adopt the new implementation and, probably more important to the discussion focus of this Blog, what this means to people in the search engine optimization (SEO) business?
If search result pages are now going to also include images, news items, maps, etc... the limited space at the top of fold is going to change dramatically as well. There is no chance that Google is going to drop the Cash Cow that is pay-per-click search engine marketing, Google AdWords, so my guess is that search engine optimization or trying to make your website appear at the top of organic search results is going to get a lot more heated and complicated in the coming months.
A universal search platform makes sense. Clearly Google has the technology and database of content to deliver a superior product and, once again, the search engine industry has to sit idly, biting our fingernails, in hopes that whatever new search platforms are integrated won't affect current organic search engine rankings. On top of that, there's no way of knowing if our techniques for optimizing websites in development will have any true impact on their ability to rise to the top.
You can read more about Google's universal search initiative here: