A little while back I got to blogging about how the advent of universal search is really going to simplify online reputation management. It now seems, though, that aside from simplifying online reputations management, it’ll actually force a lot of companies and people to pay attention to just how multi-faceted it is.

Basically, universal search is a coming feature of Google that will provide a search results page with a bit of everything: websites, video, images, blogs, etc… The reason that I think this might simplify online reputation management is that it, if universal search becomes the most popular choice amongst the average user, it’s going to seriously reduce the number of first page results there are to compete for. As I said before:

Think about it, if a blog gets you one step closer to owning the first page, then universal search is a good thing for managing your reputation. If I Google your company name, I’m probably going to get your site, your blog, your forum, and (if you follow Loren’s advice) your video.

In other words, instead of having to compete to dominate ten spots on each kind of search (image, video, blog, etc…), companies will only really have to compete on a couple for each. If most users gravitate toward universal search (and I think they will), just like the first page of results is all that really matters now, universal search will be all that will matter in the future. If you get the top two spots for image, video, and blog searches for your company name, then you’ll probably dominate an universal search for the same query.

If you can’t see the import of this, just consider a current image search for “Jet Blue.” As Michael Gray illustrates, it turns up some embarrassing history:

So I was doing an image search and came across something interesting. Looking for [Jet Blue] showed some interesting results. What caught my eye was the pictures of the failed landing gear incident. Not what I would consider an ideal image SERP. What does your an image SERP for your company, your product or your name yield? Remember what starts on facebook, doesn’t always stay on facebook, just ask Rummer Willis

If the PR people over at Jet Blue were more forward thinking, they might be planning for universal search. Were they doing that, they’d be effectively optimizing multiple media for search engine ranking. If they were doing that, each of the SERPs for each of the media would undoubtedly be more favorable. In other words, the advent of universal search may not only simplify online reputation management, but coax more people to actually take it to its logical conclusion and cover all their bases.

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