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Blended (Universal) Search Format Increases Marketers' Visibility

The recently released iProspect Blended Search Results Study, conducted by Jupiter Research, found that search engine users click specialized content within general search results more than they do within vertical search results:

36% of search engines user click "news" results within blended search results, while only 17% click a "news" result after conducting a news-specific search
31% of search engine users click "image" results within blended search results, while 26% click an "image" result after conducting an image-specific search
17% of search engine users click "video" results within blended search results, while only 10% click a "video" result after conducting a video-specific search

Within the last year Google, Yahoo!, and MSN have all begun returning "blended" results for some percentage of the searches that users conduct, where a combination of one or more specialized search result types, such as news, images, and videos, appear along with traditional Web pages on the search results page. 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:

Vertical Search Results (% of Google, Yahoo! or MSN search engine users)

Type of Search % of Users
Image search 26%
News search 17
Video 10
Don't recall 25
Haven't narrowed 35
Haven't used (these Engines) 3

Source: Jupiter Research, January 2008

Blended Search Results (% of selected search engine users)

Type of Search % of Users
News item 36%
Image 31
Video 17
Don't recall 25
Haven't narrowed 19
Haven't used (these Engines) 4

Source: Jupiter Research, January 2008

"Since users have historically ignored the vertical offerings of the major search engines, a marketer might conclude that users aren't interested in that type of content, and as a result, not invest in producing or optimizing digital assets," said Robert Murray, President, iProspect. "But that would be a mistake - the findings of this study make that quite clear. Marketers have a great opportunity to claim more search shelf space by optimizing their news, image, and video assets."

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of SearchEngineLand.com., said "Last year was revolutionary in how blended search suddenly became the norm," said "But despite the change, some marketers are still ignoring vertical search. That's a mistake, as these vertical areas provide entirely new and valuable ways to jump into the main search results. And as the study shows, you not only get into the main results but you stand out there, more."

The study also revealed some trends in users' behavior derived iProspect and earlier studies:

When Search Engines Users Click For Results

Search Items Reviewed % of Users Clicking
2008 2004 2006 2008
Only a few 27% 23% 24% 16%
The first page 41 39 36 32
First 2 pages 17 19 20 23
First 3 pages 7 9 8 10
More than 3 pages 8 10 14 19

Source: iProspect, April 2008; Strategem Research, 2004; Vote.com, 2002

68% of search engine users click results on the first page of search results, compared to 62% in 2006, and 60% in 2004
8% of search engine users review more than the first three pages prior to clicking on a result
49% of search engine users who continue their search when not finding what they are looking for change and/or re-launch their search after reviewing just the first page of search results, up from 40% in 2006, and 42% in 2004

Murray concludes that "...it (Blended search) ... brings a variety of content types to users... and allows them to choose between the various result types... (and) it increases a marketers' available inventory and their chances of being found amongst the clutter."

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Tags: (Universal), Blended, Format, Increases, Marketers', Search, Visibility

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