I was pretty harsh on new search engine Kosmix’s chances at whupping Google’s butt in yesterday’s post, and I don’t take back any of those conclusions even as I have continued to play around with the engine myself. Ultimately Kosmix has come to reinforce my sense that the best search campaigns are the ones that use all three of what I like to call the holy trinity: Paid search, SEO, and social media.
What sparked this thought was seeing how the Kosmix results page shuffles things around and surfaces stuff that would get knocked to a different page on Google.
What I also found interesting is the similarity to the concept that Microsoft has been showing with their next generation of search engine, known right now as Kumo (there’s ample evidence, including an interview with Steve Ballmer today that the name won’t stick). Like Kosmix, Kumo also seeks to reshuffle search not so much at the algorithmic level but on a presentational level.
By adding more prominent tabs and breaking out results by source type within the results page the hope is to not get hung up on relevance when comparing the search equivalent of apples and oranges. In theory at least, a video of your company’s latest TV ad on YouTube is just as relevant during a product search as the press release announcing the product, a blog post reviewing the product, a news story about the product launch, and your product’s website. So why should they all be ranked on the same list when they could be broken out by type as Kosmix does?
Kosmix does have a hierarchical display – it would be impossible not to because people’s eyes have to start somewhere. The upper left side of the page is always the number one eyeball magnet spot and so far I’ve seen Kosmix give that over to a company’s Wikipedia profile, an individual’s Google blog search results, a video result for an individual from Truveo, and a product description from a retail site when I did a product search. There are some underlying patterns (companies seem to default to a Wikipedia profile when available) but the diversity of result type suggests how different the results can be from standard search, and that there is some relevance factoring happening behind the scenes to determine what category is shown where.
Whether or not this becomes a standard way of sorting results, this is simply a development that builds on the adoption of universal search results by the major engines. The principle is the same in that results are a mélange of video, news, social media, and websites. More to the point, universal search is the standard, now.
What this all points to is the underlying need for brands and marketers to recognize that unifying results in this way requires a unified response in kind to make a marketing impact. We know from our research that brand messaging and user response is exponentially more powerful when it’s amplified by showing up in several places in search results.
Practically this means lowering the firewalls between paid search, SEO, and social media outreach. At the end of the day they all impact the search results page. I’ll grant that each technique is deployed very differently but smart marketing often means using many effective ways to reach the same ultimate goal.
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