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11 Ways to Leverage Blended Search in 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Over the past couple of months, we have noticed some significant changes in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) of the major search engines. In particular in Google. We have seen
Google place more value on brands in the results, we have also seen them bump up more local listings and at time shopping results in their results. Over recent months we have seen Google incorporate more social sites in the results as well. Perform a search for "Barack Obama" and take note of the social media sites that appear in the results; Twitter, MySpace, Facebook etc. That's something that you would not have seen in Google results as recent as 12-18 months ago. The point is that the SERPs they are a changing. A lot of the changes are due to blended search or as Google calls it "Universal Search".

It is interesting to hear many proclaim that rankings are dead... yet everybody still looks at rankings. After all, how do you tell if your SEO efforts are working? You need to monitor your visibility in the results to see how you are progressing. You need to evaluate trends in your rankings to determine if you are gaining online visibility or not. In the past four or five years the Internet has become a busy place. Keywords have become big business. Keyword competitiveness has soared to new levels. How does one, especially a new website compete for these keywords? In some case they cannot, but blended search is allowing everyone to compete for these ketwords and gain visibility for keywords that traditionally was reserved for larger sites and large brannds. Well with some great optimization practices and fresh content, any site can gain visibility in the major search engines.

What is Blended Search?

Blended Search Results refers to non-traditional results that we see in the search engines, that is results that are not a traditional blue link Web result. The first blended results started to appear in Spring of 2007 (in May and June) when Google and ASK began to display things like images and video results within their normal index of results. Blended Search is simply the merging of various types of results with traditional Web results.

11 Ways to Leverage Blended Search in 2009

Why is Blended Search so important in 2009? Well the fact is that at the heart of Blended Search is content. As you should know by now, Content is what makes the Web go 'round.

Fact: To gain visibility in the major search engines you need fresh and informative content.

Blended Search provides the opportunity to do just that... push out new and useful content to your audience. The cool thing about Blended Search is that there are so many different types of blended search results that you can leverage. Here are 11 ways that one can leverage blended search. Of course not all of these options work for all site or businessess, but there should be a little something for everyone here.
  1. Optimize for Local Search - if you are a retailer or national brand that has various locations across the country, be sure that your website is optimized for local search. Ideally you may want to consider have a localized page with unique content (including local address) for each of your branch or store locations. If you optimize your local content properly, you just might see your site appear in Google or the other major engines for "coffee shop in Seattle" or related local searches pertaining to your business.

  2. Have a Product? Submit Products to Google Base - Google Base is a free Google service that helps you publish virtually any kind of information. You can list products, automobiles and even real estate through Google Base. Check it out for yourself. Maybe you are a mom searching for a "baby stroller". A search in Google will include blended results with prices for a few options of baby strollers.

  3. Get Social - Generate brand awareness with things such as a Facebook group, a Twitter account or a MySpace page. When someone performs a search for your brand, they will be sure to be served up with results that include social site results which provides your company with another interception point. This can be great for online reputation management purposes as well.

  4. Create "How To" or Demo Videos - this is a great way to find yourself within the blended results of the search engines. People are always looking for "how to" information. Creating a short 3-4 minute video on how to use a piece of software or how to install something can be a goldmine to someone looking for this information. Optimize and tag your video for important keywords and upload to popular aggregator sites such as YouTube or Yahoo video.

  5. Optimize Published Material - written a book or have an e-book available? You might want to leverage Google Book Search by visiting their information for authors and publishers to see how you can submit your published work.

  6. Images Can be Better Optimized - every site features a wide variety of images, yet many site owners are not optimizing their images for blended search. Bare minimum try to incorporate keyword rich alt text that is descriptive of the image. In addition try to include keywords in image filenames and surround your images with relevant content. When a user performs a related query in Google or Live Search or whatever their engine of choice is, you'll have a better chance of being found as an Image Result having simply optimized your image for relevancy.

  7. Share your Slide Decks - have an interesting presentation or demo that you can share? If so use tools such as slideshare to share your slide decks with the world. Both Google and Yahoo have included slideshare results in their main index.

  8. Create a Useful Widget - while we have not yet seen "widget results" in the major engines, you can bet that it is only a matter of time. Of course there is Google Gadgets, where you can create a widget-like item that people using Google Gadgets may be interested in.

  9. Tell the World your News - yup, optimizing your press releases is still a great way to get listed in blended results. Google, Yahoo and other vertical engines show news results within their main results, and due to the timeliness of news stories, quite often news results will show up above the natural or organic listings on a SERP.

  10. Participate in the Blogosphere - in this day and age, blog content is a trusted source by many when seeking information. So if you are not currently blogging, you might want to consider starting soon. You see blog results also show up in Google's main results as they do with Yahoo, ASK, Windows Live etc. Actively participating in the blog and generating useful content in this manner is a great way to leverage blended search and be found in the search results for yet another type of result.

  11. Optimize for Organic - ok, technically this could be considered a traditional blue-link search result, but organic results are still where most people click. Over 70% of all clicks on a searcgh engine results page are on organic or natural search listings. So before you pour all of your budget into sponsored ads, remember that nearly 8 out 10 people will click on a natural listing before they click on a paid one.
Blended search results for the time being are "organic" results meaning that you do not have to pay to be listed there. Did you get that? You do not have to pay for blended results. They are free. So why not optimize your site for blended search? You will gain greater visibility and be able to provide a better experience for the searcher that is looking for your information.

Looking for blended search optimization?

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posted by Jody @ Monday, April 13, 2009  
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