Eye on the Industry: Creating A More Visual Search Experience

The following is a post from Brian Fitzgerald, the Director of Search Engine Optimization at TIG Global.

Here’s a question for you…when was the last time the typical Google search results page changed significantly? If you are a heavy user of Google, or highly in-tune with the search landscape, you might have answered Universal Search.

Introduced nearly two and a half years ago, Universal Search was Google’s effort to incorporate images, blogs, videos, and other types of diverse content into their search results. Their major goal is to provide a range of alternative content for those instances when a website might not offer the best results for your query. Despite the efforts, most users are not aware of Universal Search, which is why Google’s search results (and other engines) are often referred to as “10 blue links,” a nod to the familiar link-heavy appearance that has become Google’s trademark. These “10 blue links” have been a staple of search results for what has seemingly been forever.

Many speculate that Google does not want to mess with the success of their traditional search results pages. Their search result pages represent their biggest moneymaker, generating two thirds of their $5.94 billion in revenues in Q3 of 2009. The reality, according to a recent Computerworld interview with Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search Products and User Experience, is that Google actually makes 2-5 changes every week that are visible to the end-user in the user interface. However, these updates are often small and go unnoticed to most users, creating the perception that the results pages are stale and static.

That said, there are some recent search products in development from Google and Bing that promise to alter that perception of stagnancy. For example, Google has recently launched something called Fast Flip that allows users to flip through web pages the same way you would flip through a magazine or newspaper.

Sample of Google Fast Flip Page

Sample of Google Fast Flip Page

Bing also recently introduced a new search feature called Visual Search that allows users to navigate a large number of result options visually by scrolling and filtering through images.

Sample of Microsoft Bing Visual Search

Sample of Microsoft Bing Visual Search

One final example of a less mainstream visual search option is Cooliris, boasting accelerated speed and enhanced browsing of visual content on unique 3D Walls. Cooliris requires that you install a small plug-in for your browser, but it presents a completely unique experience for surfing the web, finding information and exploring images and video.

If these products are any indication of where the engines are going with search results, then the notion of “10 blue links” will be soon be forgotten. However, the core search engine optimization (SEO) principles will likely not change. You will still need to create compelling, keyword rich content and get people to link to it. However, if hotel and destination marketers are not yet focused on optimizing all of their assets – images, news, video, blogs, etc. – now is certainly the time to start.

Interested in improving your search engine strategy? TIG Global offers a full suite of interactive marketing tools to get your brand noticed. Click here to learn more, or give us a call at 301-841-4700.

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