Using Google’s Universal Search

Google's Universal Search

Written by Jeremy Earle, JD

May 8, 2022

Find out why Google’s Universal Search results are so significant, where it’s heading, and what it means for you.

What is the first thing we need to do?

What Does “Universal Search” Mean?

I like to get it straight from the horse’s mouth rather than reading about it online when it comes to stuff like this.

Even though there is no official definition of universal search from an SEO perspective, Google has used the following description in their Search Appliance literature to describe it.

All material in a business may be searched using a single search box, which is called universal search.” There is only one set of integrated search results, regardless of where the material is stored, whether on a business network, a desktop, or the internet.

“Universal search is the capacity to search all material across many databases using a single search box,” which can simply be adapted for SEO and conventional search. A single set of search results might include results from various content sources, such as a separate index for distinct kinds or formats of material.

Is there any other database that we should be discussing? Basically:

Data from other sources such as hotels, sports scores and calculator results must also be considered while planning a trip.

Reviews, similar searches, traffic trends, past inquiries, and device preferences are just some of the many variables in these reports.

What’s the Point of a Global Search?

Many years ago, there used to be ten blue connections…

It was an exhilarating period of exploration. Finding all of the sites that didn’t fit your criteria or conform to the structure you wanted was the difficult part.

Then Universal Search came along. For context, it was disclosed by Marissa Mayer and launched barely two months after they enhanced the personalisation of results in May 2007.

They weren’t only linked because the same individual announced them. They were linked because they illustrated Google’s goal statement: “Our purpose is to organise the world’s information and make it widely available and useful.”

Remember those 10 blue links and what they gave. While their breadth of knowledge was unprecedented, they also had an issue with their depth of ambiguity.

We crafted names and descriptions in the hopes that you would understand what we had to give, even though there were many more “black hats” back in those days.

We didn’t realise how difficult the search was since it was so much better than anything we’d had before.

Entering the Universal Search is as simple as doing so.

Afterwards, there existed a search engine called Universal. Suddenly, there was less guessing.

Before we go any further, we’d like to show you a video that Google released immediately after the debut of Universal Search.

When they were presenting what they were seeing in the eye-tracking of search results, this video demonstrates what universal search looked like at the time of the video’s release.

Although the video has 4,277 views and two strange comments, this is an amazing look into the “why” of Universal Search, as well as an understanding of what it was at the time and how much and how little it’s changed since it was first introduced.

What Impression Does It Make?

In my post on How Search Engines Display Search Results, we saw several instances of Universal Search.

Here, we’re focusing more on the why and how of the layout rather than just the layout itself.

As we’ve all seen, Universal Search appears on a site in parts distinct from the ten blue links. They are often, but not always, produced organically (though I suspect they are always organically driven).

Thus, the existence of content blocks will be handled by organic search, although the material included inside those blocks may or may not include advertisements.

So, let’s look at how the same result would appear today with and without Universal Search based on current SERP criteria and then compare the two.

  • In a single picture, this addresses two questions.
  • This section’s central question, “How does Universal Search appear?” is answered here.
  • What’s more, this picture does an excellent job at addressing the question “Why?”
  • I can think of several reasons I may type in the question [what was the civil war]. I could be
  • The essay of a high school student.
  • Anyone unfamiliar with the event’s historical context.
  • My search may be part of a bigger investigation on civil wars in other countries or warfare in general.
  • A person who enjoys reading.
  • A person who enjoys watching movies.

I’m working on an unrelated piece of SEO content and couldn’t think of anything better to use as an example.

The options are almost limitless.

Which link would you click if you were to look at the version to the right?

What if you want to see the findings in video format?

It will take you longer than it would with Universal Search alternatives to make a selection. That’s the whole idea, then.

The Universal Search framework allows for speedier decision making across a wide range of intents while still keeping the blue links (albeit not always 10 anymore) accessible for people searching for sites on the topic.

However, the sheer existence of Universal Search results will filter out the results you don’t want and leave SEO professionals and website owners free to concentrate our content on ranking in the conventional search results and other sorts and formats in the relevant portions of the site.

How is Google able to choose the sections?

First, let me state unequivocally that this is just the best estimate.

Google’s systems, as we all know, are quite complex. In all likelihood, there are more parts than I’m aware of.

I can think of two primary locations where they might apply these alterations.


Let’s take a closer look at John Mueller’s response to a question about user signals: “… that’s something we examine across millions of different queries, and millions of different pages, and kind of see in general is this algorithm going the right way or is this algorithm going in the right direction.” For individual pages, I don’t believe it’s worth working on at all,” he continues. “

That’s correct; data is used. They don’t rank individual pages.

In the context of Universal Search, this means that Google will experiment with various pieces of data to see how people respond to them. Bing is extremely likely to perform the same thing as Google.

Most likely, they choose locations for possible placements, limits on the number of different result types/databases, and have determined starting points (think: templates for specific query types) for their processes and then simply let machine learning take over running slight variations or testing layouts on pages generated for unknown queries or queries where new associations may be attained.

However, a significant jump in the number of items connected to the query may prompt the inclusion of a news carousel if comparable occasions in the past had given a good engagement signal and the carousel would stay in the search results as long as user activity warranted it.


A search engine’s query data is a foregone conclusion when determining which parts to include in the SERPs.

A search like [pizza] will return results like:

The first organic result in a Universal Search hierarchy isn’t likely to be a blue link since most people searching for restaurants do so.

As a reminder, search engines are designed to give a single area where users can get all of the information they are searching for.

Sometimes, they find themselves in direct competition with themselves. It’s not as if they’re bothered by the fact that traffic to one of their sites has shifted elsewhere.

Take, for instance, YouTube. Google’s computers will be able to identify the most popular YouTube videos and those that are viewed through, those that are ejected, those that are skipped, and those that are closed.

They may utilise this information not just to determine which films will do well on Still, they can also learn more about the supplementary material that consumers seek when doing more general searches.

In addition to searching for [the civil war], I’m also curious about the Battle of Antietam.

Suppose these additional databases aren’t only influencing how search results are laid up in Universal Search. In that case, they’re also likely being used to link subjects and information, influencing the main search ranks as well.


What does this imply for you, then?

You may leverage the search engines’ machine learning technologies to help you produce content.

We can learn a lot about what people anticipate or interact with by looking at the sections that show in Universal Search.

In addition, equipment and technology are evolving at a very quick pace. In my opinion, the concept of universal search is poised to undergo a radical shift.

Google’s desire to deliver a solution rather than choices may have anything to do with this, but I doubt it.

Few well-placed filters may provide a single result, and many of these filters could be applied depending on the user’s known preferences.

Even if we don’t see a single result in the next two to three years, I think it’s possible for certain inquiries and situations where the device is appropriate that we will.

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