Speakers:
John Shehata – Advance Internet
Mike Blumenthal – Blumenthals.com
Moderator: David Mihm

Search isn’t just “ten blue links.” This session is all about how to maximize your video, image, news, products and local results. Read on to learn how you can apply tips to do this.
The session started with John.

What is universal search?

Known as “blended search” or “search 3.0,” it means incorporating results from non-web sources (like videos and images) into the regular web search results.

He gave a history of the SERP (search engine result page). We first saw a page with only ten web results. Then we started seeing some videos and some shopping results. Now, we’re seeing images, shopping results, videos, etc. One of the newest developments is real-time results in the SERP.

Why universal search?

Greater SERP real estate. It’s also great for online reputation management as you can acquire more of the real estate by having different kinds of content on the SERP. You can leverage your unique content in a way that you couldn’t before and it helps take users directly to where they want to go. Ultimately, universal search is better for users, websites and search engines.

The clickthrough rate for universal search is higher on blended results than just the regular results. The most click vertical in universal search – images.

Image optimization

File names – match the name of the file to the content. You should also allow robots.txt access and include keywords in the caption for the image if you have one. Optimizing surrounding text for the image is also a good target – this is the second-best way search engines can know what your image is about (aside from file name, alt tag text or caption).

If you’re using Flickr, make sure your photostream is public. Also make sure you complete each tag field and describe them in a full fashion. Important: decide on copyright and creative common licenses. Embed these photos into your web site, blog, etc.

Optimize your images and you can see anywhere from a 5 – 10% increase in image referral traffic.

Video optimization

Have a separate page for each video. Choose an interesting thumbnail, as it can be the difference between a click and a non-click. You need contextual content too: transcriptions, tags, titles, comments, translations, etc. Also – perform your usual SEO on the video page (i.e. optimize title tag, meta description tag, headlines, body copy, internal linking, etc.). Make sure the file name makes sense and includes any keywords that the video is actually about.

If you have your own video player, consider the URL structure, the branding elements, a clear call to action, a comprehensive set of sharing tools and give users an embed code with hard coded links to use on their own websites.

Submit your videos with a video sitemap.xml file. This can help get your videos indexed as well as showing up in the “video” section of a blended SERP.

Where you should optimize on YouTube:

  • Video title
  • Video description. Start your description with a link.
  • Video tags.
  • Category – make sure you have your video in the correct category.

Other YouTube tips

Do not exceed three minutes of video. Build playlists by topic to help viewers easily view related content of yours. Watermark your video with your brand. Put a call to action at the end of the video (such as “find more videos on our site”). Talk about and link to your videos on social bookmarking and tagging sites.

Look to uploading your videos to other websites such as Vimeo and Daily Motion. Use TubeMogul.com to distribute your videos across multiple video portals.

Video responses is a way to try to get more traffic to your videos.

Product Optimization

Submit your product feed to Google Merchant Center. Doing this helps get your product data in blended results. Try to fill out every product field; the more information you give Google Products, the better chance you have at ranking for a variety of different keywords. You should look to update your data feed 3 times a week. Include keywords in your product titles.

Blog Posts

55% more website visitors to websites that have blogs. Also – websites that have blogs get, on average, 97% more links than websites that do not.

You can use WordPress.com but know that all of the links that would be going to your blog would actually be going to the WordPress.com. There is a service to that will allow you to “mask” the URL of the blog for it to appear to be part of your website. But best case scenario – you should install WordPress on your own server.

Use Google Insights to see when people are searching for a topic you’re writing about. For example: people look for celebrity news on the weekends more so than during the week.

News

You should look to produce press releases on a fairly frequent basis. Look at Google Hot Trends to see what people are searching for and “frame” your PR towards that, if applicable. Obviously, don’t optimize your press release about the NCAA tourney if your news has nothing to do about it. Use Google News suggest to see what hot topics are currently being searched for. Note: this list is different than the regular Google search suggest!

Mike was the second speaker. His deck was titled “Review Management: where social and rank meet.”

Where does Google get reviews? The local search ecosystem is a bit confusing and complicated, to say the least.

Reviews & Google Ranking

Google likes to know that your business is breathing and alive. That’s why they look towards reviews as a part of their ranking algorithm. 70% of users will look at reviews and take them a face value. 24% of all American adults have reviewed a business online.

“There are two types of businesses out there: ones that have received negative reviews and those that haven’t quite yet received negative reviews.”

Reviews are now front and center on SERPs with local search queries – “you can run but you can’t hide.”

Case study – a small jewelry store.

Not much time & confidence in search marketing. Mike kept on nagging her about trying to get people to review her business. Months later, she’s getting more business and even getting notes from people saying they came to her store because of the reviews that had been written. Validation confirmed!

Reviews engage the business’s customer in the conversation. The good news about this for the business owner? Little to no work involved!

Avoid bad reviews. Treat your customers right… but now, treat your customers even “righter.” You’re going to get some bad customers – give them an outlet for them to contact you. Be the first point of contact and not the last one; this could keep the problem between the dissatisfied individual and you instead of having that dissatisfied customer write a review on Yelp or Google Places.

Business Considerations in asking for reviews

  • Integrate into business process. Just ask!
  • Go for reviews on a diversity of review sites. Ask for reviews on more than just Yelp or Google Places.
  • Leverage each review. These can act as testimonials?
  • Plan for negative reviews – they will happen. Own up to the issue. Describe how future customers will not have this issue. Of course, offer to fix the issue. Realize that it’s not that you’re targeting the customer here: you’re primarily responding so the prospects can see that you took responsibility for the negative review and that you’re trying to fix it.
  • Make sure to make an ethical decision with your reviews. There’s nothing worse than a scorned customer who might even write how fishy your reviews seem!

Easy customer considerations

Have business cards customers can grab (or put them in their bags as they purchase something) with a vanity URL that will redirect to a page on your site that gives the customer places to click on review sites to review you. Also look to sending up a follow email address (if you get their email address) making sure they’re happy with their purchase and then links to review sites. Also look to use QR codes right by your entrance / exit of your business so people can easily leave a review.

Choice

Make it easy for customers to write reviews. Citysearch has Facebook login that makes it super easy. Lots of people still have Yahoo email addresses, so use Yahoo Local if that’s what your audience might use. Look to also use Yelp, Google Local or even vertical review sites.

Monitoring tools

List of tools to use to monitor reviews:

  • GetListed.org
  • MyReviewsPage.com
  • Postling.com
  • Google Alerts

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