Using Google Universal Search to Achieve Top Rankings

Since it’s my first post on this blog (and the first post on this blog at all), let me introduce myself and this blog before going into the meat of the article. My name is Francis Vallieres and I work for NVI Solutions, a Montreal SEO company, since May 2007. I have a long-time background in SEO, working the search engines on my own for more than 5 years. I’m not an active publisher of content in the SEO community, but I’ve been reading a lot of blogs, forums and websites since I began. So, if you have any questions, ideas, or comments about my writing, just send me a mail at and I will try to reply to you as soon as possible. Now let’s get started with some real content.

Google Universal Search is a not so new feature of Google’s that allows images, videos, news and maps results from different Google services to be integrated into the normal Google organic results. When doing SEO for a client website or on your own website, you should always take a look at which websites are ranking for your top keywords. You can find opportunities on those search results that you would have never have thought of otherwise. First, let’s take a closer look at the Google Universal Search.

As you can see in this screenshot, when someone looks for “I Have A Dream Martin Luther King”, he sees a link to the video in the results.

So now, all that seems different is that if you want a top 10 organic ranking for this keyword, you have one spot less available because of the Google Universal Search, right? More competition, doesn’t sound very good, does it? But you can use that Universal Search to your advantage. Here are some tricks to get top traffic spots easily with the help of a little SEO.

First, it seems that every map request (let’s say “USA maps”) will trigger images as the first three results in the SERPs. That make sense from an user perspective: if you are looking for a map, you probably need a picture of one. If you check out how difficult it is to rank organically for those keywords, you’ll see that it’s almost impossible to rank in the top 10, having to beat, and others like and But, if you look at the images results, you will see that the first image is, a small website where the SEO job on it is nothing impressive and not even targeting the word “maps” at all. So how they are ranking for this keyword? Simply, the image that is ranking is named usa_map.gif and the alt tag of the image is “USA Map”. Yep, a good old alt tag is ranking this website in front of Google and MapQuest, for a keyword with decent traffic. Sure, this keyword isn’t gonna send qualified traffic to that particular website, but what if you are able to put your website at a top spot for a good traffic keyword in your niche? The number 2 on “USA Maps” is doing just that. Weirdly, it’s an online maps seller, who has a better SEO optimized page than the first result, even if the image optimization is far than being perfect. Good ranking for him, no?

This kind of trick can be done with every of the Google Universal Search category, even news if you are able to get your website accepted as a reliable source of news for Google News.

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