Ten days before Christmas, and about a week before shipping cutoff, we're finally/suddenly coming up on the end of the holiday season. If you're in a typical marketing department, you've likely been in such a crunch that you haven't had time to take advantage of this year's great deals or even tell others what you'd like for the holidays.
Fret no more. For friends and loved ones of the busy search marketing set, here are some hard-to-find, near-impossible items we'd be overjoyed to find under the tree on Christmas morning.
A long-time ranking factor for search engines, URLs that are clean and utilize keywords have become even more important with the recent prominence of Bing (which puts a heavy emphasis on URLs) and Google's breadcrumb enhancements. While usually an easy win for blogs, e-commerce sites -- especially huge, customized ones -- rarely bring keywords into their directory and URL structures.
To be fair, it's because it's incredibly difficult. When the technologies involved make it so sinfully easy to just use URL variables and category numbers, it can be difficult to justify the time that can go into adding category, product, and attribute names in a clean, directory-style manner.
Fortunately, SEO Santa's early Google holiday gifts like the impending Caffeine update, personalized rankings based on CTR, and other planned upgrades make the case easier. While this nudge in the right direction is helpful, the gift of search-friendly URLs would be a gift that would be appreciated and enjoyed all year.
Microtags began the year as something that you needed if you wanted to spice up your search results in SearchMonkey (i.e., count 'em on one hand), and ended the year as a way to enhance all of your search results in Google (i.e., count 'em in a few maxed-out Excel spreadsheets) with anything from reviews to prices.
As they look for ways to personalize results and make them more attractive, informative and even actionable, search engines have two choices:
- Develop a complex formula to determine what copy represents what kind of data before pulling them together in a customized-by-user setting. Combine this with a deeper search algorithm based on the psychological mindset, purchase behavior, and reading habits across a wide strata of users.
- Make individual sites take care of the heavy lifting on their own sites. Tweak results page coding. Count money.
Not even the most industrious search engine or Web site would pass up the latter for the former. And yet, with the emphasis on more informative search results, the placement of a few extra lines of markup per template are frequently treated as difficult, or even somehow dangerous. Any SEO or Webmaster would be overjoyed to have this enhancement appear wrapped in a pretty package under the tree.
A Social Media Strategy
Speaking of Facebook, big brands are often reluctant to participate in social media, from Facebook fan pages to Twitter accounts, despite obvious reasons for getting involved. "We lose control of our brands," they say, and "what if someone says something bad about us?"
The answer is that not participating is ceding control of your brand to the brutal elements of the online world. And if someone takes the time to say something bad about you on Facebook or Twitter, they've probably said it 10 other places, too. Rest easy -- the majority of participants, however, will express their affinity for your brand.
Getting the blessings to do this and the time to build a deeply trusted channel are huge obstacles for larger enterprises, so the gift of a social media strategy and presence would be a great, low-cost stocking stuffer to put the finishing touch on anyone's gift list.
Make Your List, Check it Twice
Of course, none of these are easy as adding to your cart and having them shipped pre-wrapped via Amazon Prime. Given the lack of a Santa-based option, the next best thing is getting them on your development and marketing priority list right now. The sooner you start fighting these battles, the sooner you can overcome the myriad difficulties they come with, and the sooner you can reap the benefits.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!