I attended the Searchology event at Google in Mountain View this past Wednesday. For those of you who read my article Will Universal Search Mean Universal Domination?, you already know I like what Google has done with this initiative.
There are some aspects that I think will be particularly interesting about this. Historically, many users have never tried any of the other search products, such as image search, local, video, etc. People simply get used to the idea that they go to one place and do their search there. They get in the habit of getting all their answers from the web search engine.
The problem is that this may not always provide the most relevant answer. By integrating all of their search assets into Universal Search, Google accomplishes two things:
- Potentially provides a more relevant search result
- Exposes other search properties to a broader audience of users
I think this second item may be the hidden gem of Universal Search. Exposing these other search tools through the traditional web search interface may actually increase the useage of the vertical search tools, potentially in a dramatic way. While the old saying is "Familiarity breeds contempt", the reality is that making people familiar with tools that can help them is likely to breed usage.
Bottom line: In addition to the potential relevance gains, Google may also get a tremendous burst of growth to it's other search properties.