UPDATE: This is an edited version of the original article.
Here is Google’s blog post on the changes.
In short: Users see search results in a different kind of way, with maps streamed down the right hand side and more content featured on the result listings.
All very good.
But what confuses some folk is the way in which results are now presented, with various incarnations of displays being found in random locations and showing different things.
So there were these two examples grabbed by LocalTrips, where traditional-looking organic search follows the Universal Search results.
From the same user, located on the West Coast of the US, traditional organic moves up ahead of Universal Search.
Despite the markings on the grabs, Google stresses that the Universal Search is all organic, no links are a result of paid-for inclusion or CPC.
Meanwhile, a reader in the Netherlands also sees this type of layout:
One unnamed search analyst for a high-profile European digital marketing agency says other similar, “radical” tests have been seen recently on Google.
“This forces brands to consider Google as a content destination as well as a search provider. Google Places may well be significant in this.¬†It’s not surprising Google is doing this, its long been predicted Google would expand Universal Search into a polymorphic vertical search.
“What is surprising is that they’re testing this now while the ITA spotlight is shining on them.”
The point here is that while many of the results are still natural, or organic, there is a worry that much of the linkage around Universal Search (which seemingly dominates many of the pages) may – repeat, may – eventually go the way of paid-for advertising elsewhere on the Google real estate.