Recently Google released what is being called Google 2.0 or Universal Search. Through this release Google has added some of the other search engine results to the main web search results page. Things like Maps, Image, Video and Books search results are being displayed. While this might be a good thing for those times in which you are actually looking for a map and can’t seem to find the link to the Google Map search engine, however, when you are not looking for a map this feature just gets in the way.
The same thing can be said for the Image and Video results. What if I am just looking for a variety of information on a topic and I am not interested in where the topic is on a map or if some writer has written a book on the subject. Heaven forbid my search query be a popular topic for would be film makers who have posted some home movie on another of Google’s properties, http://www.youtube.com?
This morning I went to Google and typed in Vancouver Film School as I wanted to see what summer workshops they had available for teenagers. Suspecting that the Vancouver Film School used something other than http://www.vancouverfilmschool.com as their web address, I knew that Google would be able to point me to the right address within the first few pages.
Under Google’s new Universal Search platform I have to say that I didn’t really like their new search results. First thing that I noticed was a big display for a Google map that pointed out 3 locations. Had I not known where the VFS was located this might have been helpful but seeing as I wasn’t requesting that information, I found it to be wasted space.
The next thing I noticed was that due to the amount of space required for the map layout there was only one website displayed above the fold. For those of you who do not know what above the fold means; this is the term used to describe what a web viewer sees prior to scrolling.
One website displayed above the fold in the organic search seems a little silly to me seeing as most eye tracking studies show that users generally only really view the top 3 results in search engines. With those 3 top results now going to other Google products, I have to wonder what the real point of this Universal Search is.
Remember the term I used earlier “above the fold”? Well with only 1 organic result displayed above the fold we have to take a look at what else is available above the fold. As I said earlier I was doing a search Vancouver Film School and have placed the link so you can take a look at the results. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=vancouver+film+school
In the organic results we now see the top links going to 5 references to Google maps and 1 link to the http://www.vfs.com site which is also fortunate enough to carry site links. For those of you who do not know what site links are; site links are generated when a site ranks highly for a search term and that site generates significant traffic to a variety of the pages within the site. Site links are nice things to have but if your site doesn’t get a lot of targeted traffic, I wouldn’t bank on getting them any time soon.
Back to “above the fold” – Not a lot of choices as far as organic results go but luckily for me I knew what I was looking for and my query was answered without having to scroll. Being the curious sort I took a look around the whole page and noticed that while there was only 1 organic listing above the fold, there certainly was no shortage of sponsored listings. One sponsored ad at the top of the page and another five PPC ads on the right hand side of the page.
Now I can’t speak for anybody else but to me it certainly looks as though Google is now placing the emphasis on their own products such as Google Maps, Google Video and the Omni present Google Ads. No one can blame Google for wanting to make more money as they haven’t got all of it yet but, just don’t try to convince us that the reason behind Google 2.0 is to deliver us a better search experience.
Granted, if I was looking for maps and cheesy videos and I didn’t want to waste my time by concentrating on using specialized search tools then this would seem ideal. However, sometimes while doing searches I am looking for a wide variety of sites to see as many different opinions as I can and not just what Google thinks I should be looking for by force feeding me their sponsored ads.