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Blended Search Optimization

Apparently, “blended” search results are becoming all the rage. That is, search results containing images, videos, and news, Blogs, and reference results on the same page.

As with New trends coming upstream and heading there way right on the target to get good results. Thus 2007 saw some interesting developments with the search engine results pages. Google in fact introduced their Universal Search incorporating things such as video, image results, book results, news results, blog results and the like.

Recent Study:

The study found that 31 percent of users are now clicking images, with twice as many searchers aged 18–34 clicking them compared with those over 35. 17 percent are clicking on videos. The most frequently clicked vertical within blended search is news.

While Google kicked off the blended results craze nearly a year ago, and MSN and Yahoo followed suit later in 2007, newbie’s and are among the blended search engines trying to find a toe-hold in Google’s world.

The importance of optimizing for universal search will be one of the main areas of focus for online marketers in 2008.So here is the list of all the potential blended search result options available.

Types of Blended Search Results

1. Image Results
2. Online Video
3. New Results
4. Blog Listings/Results
5. Book Listings
6. PDF’s
7. Local / GEO Search Listings
8. Traditional Text Link Results via Web Search
9. Product Search
10. Catalog Search
11. Movie Search
12. Music Search
13. Map Search
14. Health Search
15. Celebrity Search
16. Job Search
17. Recipe Search
18. Financial / Stock Search
19. People Search
20. Comparison Search

Blended search will tie into relevancy based on the query of the search. Ultimately the search engines will continue and work to provide the most relevant results possible. The days of simple text link web results are quickly being replaced by more dynamic, more targeted search results. Therefore the need to optimize for blended search becomes cardinal.

Some Tips for Optimizing for Blended Search

1. Optimize Your Existing Site Content – Do make sure that you optimize your existing content for the search engines. Begin with on page factors such as optimized page titles, Meta data and page copy. While text link search results are becoming less, they still dominate the current search results and will remain a part of the search page.

2. Optimize Images - something that is often overlooked is optimizing the images found on your site for your key phrases. This includes using alt text, proper naming conventions and optimizing images for size.

3. Review and Organize Your Content - determine if there is an opportunity to serve your content to your users in various formats. Consider html page copy, videos, video transcripts, blog content, press release news content, PDF etc.

4. Optimize, Upload and Publish Video - with so many video aggregator sites out there, creating, optimizing and uploading your videos for your user becomes even more important. The search engines have started to incorporate more video results into their search results.

5. Optimize Press Releases - syndicate company news through RSS feeds and press releases so that news results/press releases about your company show up in the blended search results.

6. Always Add Fresh Content - Whether it's page copy, new images, new videos, pod casts, white papers, always continue to add fresh content to your web properties. Blended search results will factor in relevancy and as a result content that is fresh may be given more weight in the search results. Continuing to create fresh content can help promote your various forms of content for blended search.

7. Blog - Blogs continue to be a more trusted form of content on the Web. As a result, expect the search engines to incorporate more blog content/results into their main results. Blogging is a great way to quickly get your content out there. Blog content (if your blog is well optimized) can expect to get optimized and ranked in the search engines within hours.

8. Start with Your Images - The number of people online searching for pictures is huge, and it's an audience that is frequently ignored when it comes to SEO. Make sure you name each image file in a descriptive way. The number of people online searching for pictures is huge, and it's an audience that is frequently ignored when it comes to SEO. Make sure you name each image file in a descriptive way. Also, be sure to have a descriptive caption next to the image.

Make them available everywhere. In particular, make them available anywhere people can rate them. For instance, Google owns Picasa and Yahoo! owns Flicker, so open up accounts and make your pictures available to all.

Upload images to social networking sites such as Face Book and My Space. And be sure to get pages with good images bookmarked around social media sites.

9. Target is local results - For Targeting results, open up a Google Account and make your way directly to the Local Business Center to enter your free listing.

So Why Not Get Started?

If you do not begin optimizing for universal search results as part of your online marketing strategy now, you may cost yourself more in the end. As you drop in search rankings, you may be forced to increase your pay per click spend driving up your online advertising expenditure. Why not optimize for organic placement via blended search optimization as part of your longer term strategy. So let’s Go with Today's trend that is Tomorrow’s Future i.e. Blend Search Optimization

How to start is with your images?

The number of people online searching for pictures is huge, and it's an audience that is frequently ignored when it comes to SEO. Make sure you name each image file in a descriptive way. If it's a picture of spring daffodils, then name it as such. And don't forget to do the same with the alt attribute. Also, be sure to have a descriptive caption next to the image.

But here's the most important thing with images you own: Make them available everywhere. In particular, make them available anywhere people can rate them. For instance, Google owns Picasa and Yahoo! owns Flickr, so open up accounts and make your pictures available to all.

Upload images to social networking sites such as Face Book and My Space. And be sure to get pages with good images bookmarked around social media sites.

Next target is local results

And a search for San Francisco airport brings back a list of ten local results related to the airport... right in the middle of the page! So, open up a Google Account and make your way directly to the Local Business Centre to enter your free listing.

Blogs are big. And that's a fact

If you can develop a popular blog, you can surge to the top of search engine results charts. A good blog attracts many, many subscribers to your RSS feed. Remember that Google owns Blogger and Feed Burner, so you can be sure they know which the popular blogs are. And, of course, popular Blogs attract lots of links. And Blogs are not just static text anymore. You can embed audio, video and images.

An RSS 2.0 document used for syndicating Blogs and pod casts can be optimized similar to an HTML document. There's a title tag, a description tag and a publishing date tag to give an indication of the freshness of your content. If you're syndicating a pod cast, for instance, this is a great way to get some keyword-rich optimization into your feed.

Get into movie business

Ten years ago (and that's not really a long, long time ago) the thought of making your own movies or advertisements was as alien as... er... something alien. But now, you can be making movies and showing them to people around the world for the price of a cheap camcorder. Videos are beginning to creep into all types of searches conducted on Google's Universal and blended search (and the other major search engines), not just those related to entertainment.

For example, at the time of this writing I made a short video chatting about the search engine strategies conference in London. I uploaded it to Google Video, YouTube and MetaCafe, bookmarked and tagged it at a few social media sites... and within two days (at the time of this writing) it was a number one result at Google.

Sell, sell, and sell. If you have anything from a single item to a huge database of stuff to sell, Google will gladly let you upload to its product search (formerly known as Froogle).

At the time of this writing, a search for Nikon camera brings back three shopping comparison results from Google's Product Search at the top of the pile, plus a link to items listed in Google's own checkout service. Submit your products at no cost (it's easy to set up a data feed) and add descriptions, images and prices. And with your Google Account, you can log in and manage your products at any time.

Optimizing for Video Search Engines

Things like anchor text, titles and descriptions are important but often overlooked.

Annotate the video clips with keyword rich text and use anchor text in links to the videos. Another good suggestion was to use PPC to drive awareness to current stories, since it can take a while for video and regular search engines to index content.

Video search is somewhat like the days of Alta Vista in that it's still a pretty straightforward process to optimize and get good results. Gregory Markel gave an example where one of their clients received more traffic from video search than their PPC campaign.

One of the greatest benefits of video search traffic is that it's free, it's viral and it can still be easily controlled for certain groups of phrases.

Popular video search engines and sources of videos:

  • My Space
  • You Tube
  • AOL Video
  • Yahoo Video
  • Google Youtube

Tips on video search optimization from Infuse Creative:

- Use Meta Data
- encode multiple file types
- titles descriptions are weighted most heavily
- piggyback on topically popular content, by using - similar keyword phrases
- watermark your video content
- end the video with "send to a friend" or some other incentive
- automate process of tracking and reporting if possible

My space:

A good number of marketers are creating multiple user profiles with multiple variations of the same video and variations of keywords. Is this spam? As long as the content is truly different no. I'm not sure what the search engines will say about that, but as mentioned before, it's still a bit of the Wild West with video search optimization.

How can businesses leverage blended search to their benefit?

1. Understand the Needs of your Users - The first (and the most important) item to address is to understand your user. Learn about what type of content they are looking for. Provide them with this content. If they are looking for images, optimize your images for the terms that your user will be looking for. If they are looking for PDF versions of white papers, yup you guessed it, provide them with this type of content.

2. Determine what type of Blended Search Results will work best for you - if Web search is too competitive, consider alternatives of t things such as video or Financial/Stock search. For retailers, product search becomes very important as does Catalog search.

3. Have the Proper Content for Blended Search - in order to be seen in the blended search results you need to have content that will create visibility for your brand in the blended search results. You may need to blog. You may need to upload video. You may need to launch frequent press releases. Whatever the case may be, you need to ensure that you have sufficient content that can be used for gaining a presence in the blended search results.

4. Optimize Your Content - you need to ensure that your content is optimized for terms and key phrases that A) Your Users and Prospects are using in their search queries and B) Terms that the Search Engines are using to Incorporate Blended Search Results. The fact is your should always optimize your content for relevancy. This means having proper titles on blog posts, tagging your videos with relevant keywords, naming image files with keywords descriptive of the image, submitting to local search, building links to your content, getting people to comment on your blog posts or videos and the list goes on.

5. Position for Blended Search Now - Although the search engines are still working on incorporating blended results, you can still optimize your content for blended search. Before it becomes saturated, optimize your content for blended search now before your competition does. Remember the drywall example earlier? Did you notice that there were only 78 video results for "how to install drywall" in You Tube? Personally if I was a dry Waller and wanted to promote my service offering, I’d probably try to upload a few videos to You Tube to promote my brand and my business.


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