Now that we've covered the fundamentals of universal search, it's time to look at how to optimize for this new search experience.
Universal (or blended) search refers to the non-traditional results we see in the SERPs. The results could be video, images, local search, news, shopping, or other rich content. Let's look at specific things you should do to optimize these areas.
Optimize for Image Search
You've probably heard the adage that a picture speaks a thousand words. Well why not use that to your advantage?
Web sites are often too text heavy. Choosing the right images to help tell the story without a lot of text can provide a better user experience if done correctly. Sometimes images help create an emotional attachment to the products or services you offer.
To optimize for universal or blended search:
- Incorporate rich ALT text for each image. Remember to intuitively describe the image using targeted keywords. The more descriptive the better.
- Include your keywords in the image file names.
- Make sure that the content that surrounds the image is highly relevant. Relevancy is always a key factor in optimization.
Optimize for Video Search
Video has become one of the best tools for optimization because it serves multiple purposes. It helps engage visitors, keeps them on your site longer, and reduces your bounce rate.
One of the best ideas for developing video content is to add instructional or how-to videos. Try keeping them between two to three minutes in length.
Don't forget the crucial step of tagging your video with the right keywords. Upload your video to popular video sites like YouTube to help get more exposure and increase popularity.
Optimize for Local Search
Whether your business has a single location or multiple locations, you should optimize your site for local search. In addition to registering your site with local search engines, consider having a page on your site that includes all of your local information. For instance, you could have a listing of all of your branches or store locations with current addresses. This will help ensure they show up correctly and accurately.
Optimize for News
Do you have any newsworthy content about your company or organization? Publishing press releases and other newsworthy information is a great way to get listed in blended results, especially if the news is timely and relevant.
Notice in this search for "iPad" that news results came first in the SERP and right after it come the real-time results. So get your news releases published and you might end up at the top of the list.
Optimize for Social Media and Blogs
If you haven't participated in social media yet, you should give it a try. Many social media sites and blogs are indexed by the search engines, especially real time posts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites and blogs.
As you can see in the image above, real time results are usually given a top spot on the SERPs. Additionally, social media gives people more touch points to your brand and increases awareness.
Optimize for Shopping
Many people like to go online to shop for products, even if they plan to purchase from a brick and mortar store. They like to gather compare features and pricing.
Shopping results are an important factor in blended search. If you have a product, consider registering it with Google Base. Sign in to their merchant center and upload your product feeds and other info.
Notice in the example above how images play a role in the shopping experience. As with most SEO best practices, make sure you have relevant and targeted keywords in your product title and description. Also, keep your feeds updated regularly with any new product information.
It's best if you can holistically repurpose your content into each of these media types so they all work together in concert. Each of these are extensions to your site and its content.
When searchers finally make it to your site, there should be a commonality and cohesiveness from one media type to the other. This takes planning and preparation.
What has worked for you in the past? Please share your experiences with the rest of us in the comments below.
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!