Simple Ways to Use Universal Search to Appear on Top of Google

The universe as seen on the night sky. We see the milky way among a myraid of stars. Humbling, beautiful and truly impressive.

Back in the days search was about the proverbial “10 blue links” that lead to actual results on third party websites. Not anymore. What happened? Universal Search!

In this post I will show you some simple ways to use Universal Search to appear on top of Google‘s organic (unpaid for) search results.

What is Universal Search and Why Does Google Push it?

Nowadays Google is about so-called “Universal Search“. What does that mean?

By now every search result on Google and increasingly on other search engines is a portal-like collection of all kinds of media and resources.

Apart from that most of the visible area of search result is cluttered with ads and Google’s own properties so that you will have to scroll in most cases to find the remnants of the organic search results.

There are two reasons for Google to push Universal Search results whenever possible: it makes visitors stay on Google properties and see and click more ads.

In social SEO or SEO 2.0 there are many ways to influence such search results in the broadest sense. There are still lots opportunities when it comes to Universal Search.

This term basically signifies that Google and other search engines will mix static search results with all kinds of other media and content types, to name just the most common:

  • images
  • video
  • news
  • maps

You can use these additional ways to get on top of Google search results.

They work at least temporary or for some users, but in many cases also permanently. In any case they can attract more visitors to your site or at least get more eyeballs for your content shown or hosted in Google.

Google Universal Search SEO Techniques

I present to you the simple ways to use Google Universal Search to appear at the top of the Google results. These Universal Search SEO techniques are often easier to implement an less time-consuming than conventional SEO.

Google Local/Maps
This one is one of the most common ways to appear above your competition on Google results. To appear here you need appearances in local directories and reviews. Sites like

  • Yelp
  • Tripadvisor

will be used as local citations. Incoming links do not suffice. Obviously it’s great for hotels and local businesses. The more reviews you get the higher you end up.

Even in case Google does not show you on top (yet) you will benefit from the traffic of these sites.

You are most likely already covered there and just have to claim your business. Otherwise other people will decide how you get presented to the public.

Local guides visit all kinds of places like

  • restaurants
  • hotels
  • stores
  • clubs

to name just the most obvious travel-related ones. As mobile searches dominate the local market some people even rename their business “[business type] near me”. That’s a bit desperate though.

Ideally you just spot the satisfied visitors or customers and ask them for a review.

Otherwise mostly disgruntled ones will vent their anger in the worst case. The number of reviews mainly counts for Google but when you only have one star reviews people will shun your venue.

When you look for a ventriloquist on Google you will usually find 3 to 4 videos in the top 20. Last time I checked there were all 3 from YouTube:

Obviously you should upload a video to YouTube to rank high on organic Google search. You can also optimize for YouTube as a search engine as well.

It might be not that simple for this keyword as there are many videos, but it’s worth a try. I bet there are lots of keywords where there are fewer videos.

That’s one of the best techniques for anybody who can sell something that will blend on video – basically everybody – unless you look too ugly to show yourself. Then hire someone else.

Sometimes it’s as simple as repurposing your blog content as a video without filming much. Screencasting will do as well. It only shows what’s on your screen so you don’t have to dress up or put on make-up as nobody will see you.

Your voice should sound well though and your English be flawless. Thus I can’t really do it either personally as English is my th8ird language and my accent heavy.

Google Image Search
If you look for pop stars or artists you will in most cases see images above all the other results. Try Britney Spears or one of the most notorious artists, Banksy.

While optimization for image search would take up a post of it’s own it is still by far simpler than link building etc. for a conventional #1 spot.

Google News
While you might think that you are not New York Times and you’ll never get there, it’s one of the easier endeavors.

These days you can simply submit your press release to a free press release site that gets featured on Google News.

You also might even set up a multi author blog and apply for inclusion in Google News yourself.

You can guest post at one if you need a quick success story. Look at the examples above: Britney and Banksy search results both often include news.

Shopping Search
This one is also obvious and fairly simple, just submit your products to shopping search engines like, Bizrate and even Amazon.

Besides that you have to be on Google Shopping search.

Good for online store owners obviously. Sadly the inclusion is paid by now. Thus it’s just another form of advertising.

Yet it’s still a good option for ecommerce sites to be seen above everybody else. Google will display products from shopping search very prominently.

There are other types of Google special searches like Google Books which are not that pervasive yet but for some topics and areas of expertise already common.

Thus please forget about SEO as a set of fixed practices like

  • onpage optimization
  • SEO copywriting
  • link building

SEO 2.0 is as multifaceted as the real world is.

Moreover consider that Google personalizes search results based on search history, location and Google Apps activity for example.

Therefore you might end up in the top 10 for SEO for some people (who follow you) while others won’t see you at all.