Rhea Drysdale will be speaking about “Universal Search” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living?

I make people happy — as happy as I can. Where I focus that energy most is with my clients, my team and my family. It’s why I co-founded Outspoken Media with my business partner. We wanted to provide a better quality, boutique Internet marketing company after we’d spent years in in-house and agency positions. It’s been three years and we’ve got a team we’re exceptionally proud of and we’re excited about the future of seo consulting, link development, online reputation management and social media services.

Me personally, I love managing client strategies, training our team and building the business. It’s my favorite hobby as unhealthy as that may be and I’ll talk to anyone about the process. When I’m not obsessing over industry trends, project management or business development, I do take time to relax with my husband and our ferocious new kitten.

2) When talking to clients about SEO, how do you explain to them the necessity for diverse content in order to generate universal search traffic?

The best way to explain something is to show it. I always like to start by grabbing competitive data. Whether it comes from a direct competitor or maybe a related industry, I want them to see the potential because it’s likely that someone else is already doing a decent job, intentionally or not. When they can see what’s possible, it’s easier to verbalize what universal search is and how it might apply to their business.

From there we’ll discuss content opportunities. We find areas that exist on and off-site that lend themselves well to universal. This might be a product description with opportunities for online reviews (individual and aggregate), user profiles, complex how-to’s that would be much more effective as videos, customer testimonials, or industry data that would make a fantastic infographic or visual resource. Sometimes an opportunity isn’t immediately apparent and in those cases we have to deep dive into their industry looking for questions from users, interesting trends in their analytics, search insights and offline marketing. We always find something though that will bring a return.

3) How do you see universal search evolving in the next couple years?

It’s tough to predict the future, so let’s talk about today’s trends and hope they’re still applicable in a year, which I believe they will be.

Google is getting really pushy with their search results and the promotion of personalized and Google+ content. I would personally like to see that wane, but with Page at the helm, I think the proliferation of SERPs with Google properties is going to increase. Just recently I saw personalized images appearing before my regular universal search images! Personalization of universal search — that’s the big idea for the immediate future.

I would also look more closely at schema.org. Universal search is getting more advanced and has schema.org and other forms of markup to thank for that. It’s not necessarily universal search in the true sense of blended indices, but each result has more capability with its SERP real estate if webmasters are accurately implementing markup for everything from sports scores to movie times and locations. We’ll cover much more of this during my SEMpdx panel with Marshall Simmonds, you’ll just have to come to hear the rest! 🙂

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