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Optimizing for Blended Search: What You Need to Know
Sunday, January 13, 2008
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. ASK had presented a more radical change with the launch of their 3-D interface. The ASK SERP contains three panes featuring search results, video, images, dictionary listings, related search options and more. In recent months, Yahoo and Live Search have also incorporated blended search into their results pages as well.

With more universal search results showing up in Google and the other engines, the importance of optimizing for universal search will be one of the main areas of focus for online marketers in 2008. Having said that, how can site owners and businesses optimize for blended search? Before answering that we need to list all of 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. PDFs
  7. Local / GEO Search Listings
  8. Traditional Text Link Results aka 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
These are all examples of blended search results that I have personally come across in recent months. We can expect even more in the future. Consider blended search results consisting of social networking results that incorporate listings from MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, XING etc. What about audio clips such as podcasts, songs, radio and other audi0 clips? Look for blended search results to include items like this in the future.

So how do you optimize for blended search? We've previously discussed specific methods of optimizing for universal/blended search, but are are some tips for optimizing for blended search.

Tips for Optimizing for Blended Search

Optimizing for blended search is critical for your online marketing strategy. Consider this scenario: A web site might have enjoyed high rankings on key terms within a search engine for years and years now finds that their ranked web pages have been pushed down the rankings by video, image, local search results or other types of blended search results.

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. If that means video, that's what you can expect to see for a certain type of query. If that means an audio clip for a newscast then that's what you are going to be served with from the search engine. 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 paramount.

7 Tips for Optimizing for Blended Search
  1. Optimize Your Existing Site Content - first and foremost 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, PDFs 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. You can expect to see more of this in 2008.

  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, podcasts, white papers, always, always, 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, Blog, 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.
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? Releasing a new product or solution? Why not upload a video to promote your new offering. Have a bit of an online reputation problem? Why not start a blog to clarify the situation in the online community? Take control of the listings in the search results by optimizing for blended search.


posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ Sunday, January 13, 2008  
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About Me
Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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