Google to boost universal search effort

Google will boost its universal search effort, an official said.

Google will become more aggressive with its universal search effort, making a bolder push to blend a variety of Web links into a single results list.

Speaking at Citigroup's Annual Global Technology Conference on Thursday, Sundar Pichai, director of product management at Google, said users of the company's search engine will see an increase in the frequency of search results that include various types of links, like Web pages, video clips, images, news articles and maps.

"We're still at the nascent stages. Going forward we'll be more aggressive in terms of when we trigger this," Pichai said during a question-and-answer session with a Citigroup analyst and audience members.

The universal search effort, launched formally in May but in the works for years at Google, aims to provide a more cohesive search experience for users, so that they don't necessarily have to go to the company's image search engine to obtain photo results, for example.

In addition to boosting universal search, Google needs to do better in helping users formulate and refine queries, as well as improving its personalized search service, which takes into account users' past queries to tailor search results accordingly. The personalized search offering, which is an opt-in service that requires users to have a free Google account, will incorporate more data to improve the way it tailors search results, Pichai said.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Fox, group business product manager of ads quality at Google, said the company is considering breaking its long tradition of running only text ads in its search result pages.

Moving slowly and cautiously, Google officials are discussing scenarios in which image or video ads may prove more useful than the traditional pay-per-click text ad, Fox said, also speaking during the Citigroup conference.

The ultimate consideration in doing this would be if it improves the user experience, Fox said. "We don't want to show things that are garish or flashy or cause users to become blind to the ads," he said.

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