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What Is Universal Search?

What Is Universal Search
Source: Seobility

Date First Published: 13th February 2023

Topic: Web Design & Development

Subtopic: SEO

Computer Terms & Definitions

Difficulty: Medium

Difficulty Level: 5/10

Learn more about what universal search is in this article.

Universal search, also known as blended search, refers to search engines expanding search results by combining results from their different indexes into the main search results page. The results from different indexes may include images, videos, maps, news, shopping, flights, books, recipes, and more. Combining them into one provides a better user experience, make the results more user-friendly, and overall improve the search engine SERPs. This is because it will give users relevant results more quickly and easily. Below is an example of a universal search result when searching on Google for the term 'carrot cake recipe'. It combines a listing of links with recipe listings.

Google Universal Search Result

Boosting the visibility of non-textual content, such as images and videos will help drive more organic traffic to universal search. Search engines must be able to interpret the meaning of the images and videos embedded into webpages for websites to be optimised for universal search results. This has led to more focus on image SEO and video SEO. Also, the addition of new elements to the SERPs has taken clicks away from the normal search results as it causes some people to directly read content on the search results page rather than clicking through a result and reading it on the website.

Schema markup can also help Google and other search engines to understand the type and format of web content. With proper structured data, websites can rank in Google's rich results, improving the visibility and helping the result to stand out in the SERPs. Although schema markup is not a direct Google ranking factor, it can greatly boost organic click-through rate.


In May 2007, Google announced that they would be using universal search to meet the user's search intents better and make the SERPs more user-friendly by providing a broader range of relevant search results. Before that, the SERPs looked quite different. They only contained a listing of 10 blue links that directed users to webpages with no results combined from different indexes. Users had to go through different indexes to find different types of content, which was time-consuming and increased the number of clicks needed to find what they were looking for.

As of now, most Google searches contain universal results, showing additional search results from Google Maps, Google Images, and Google News. Other search engines, such as Bing and DuckDuckGo have used universal search.


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