There has been a lot of talk lately about Google's new Universal Search interface. Obviously big changes like this precipitate discussion on ways to make it useful to the SEO and the webmaster.The pressing question of the day, is how to capitalize on it. Barry has some excellent coverage here and I definitely must point out Danny's coverage at Search Engine Land to get the basics of how Universal search is working.
While researching ways to take advantage of Universal search, I came across a thread on WebmasterWorld Supporters Forum today about some tactics and tips to take advantage of optimizing for Google Universal search. Since it is a paid section I will try to summarize some of the points and add more own experience.
The thread starter asks some important questions to think about:
How to land in these alternate embedded listings? How to take monetize the traffic, or more properly refine it so that one's getting targetted users? Worse, am I wasting my time?
Great questions. Some of the many main areas to work on are the following:
1. Standard Content/ Web Search
Naturally this is one of the first areas to work on, optimize for organic search with standard SEO tactics. Integrate other parts forms of media into your pages. Add images to your content.
2. Blog Search
Venice on WMW suggests: "Take a blog post for example. You can incorporate your photos, video, and content into your blog, along with an RSS feed. That results in an opportunity to get positioned for more than just a plain standard HTML page."
3. Image Search
Big one, but often neglected. First would to allow Google to spider your image content. Next, the logical step would be to optimize the names jpgs, gifs, etc.. effectively so that they rank well in normal Google searches. Alt tags are your friend, make sure images are properly labeled. Blogs are excellent ways to get images spidered quickly and rank for many terms. Take this search for armadillo, the second images at the top is from a blogspot.com url. The poster included the terms armadillo in the post title, image name, and has relevant content surrounding the image.
4. Video Search
The big one here is Youtube.com and Google Video. Upload videos to one or both. Largely we have seen a lot of videos from Youtube appear in the results. One of the best ways I have found to get videos included is to have the linked to from blog posts, other users and websites and make sure they have good titles. The combination of a little optimization and insane popularity on these sites goes a long way. Videos with comments, awards, etc.. on Youtube also seem to make it quicker in the results than those that do not. Videos that are properly tagged with relevant keywords also help. Not to mention using words like "video" or "vid". If you have a video that you want to get ranked another helpful way to attract some "attention" is too comment on other people's videos in the same category. This can help encourage people to view your video and link to it. Here is an example of a search for Texas Armadillo video that is optimized for the term "texas armadillo" and is linked to from many other blogs. The video is kinda dull I know, sorry feel free to recommend other examples in the comments.
Another great example I found is a search for "Umbrella" a semi popular search term that has a big mix of listings. Do I want an umbrella to keep the rain away or do I mean the song? Google gives you both. The videos that display overwhelming here are from a song from a singer called Rhinna and the song is titled "Umbrella". Covergirl.com has sponsored this video and it includes advertising in the beginning and the end for there products plus a celebrity endorsement. They are capitalizing on Google Universal search big time by catching all people that are searching for the song not the thing that keeps rain away. '
Do good editing on your videos. Now that Google is showing the video boxes, these image boxes of your videos really catch the users attention. If you first opening frame of the video is a big black screen, its probably not going to capture as many searchers as someone who has a more interesting opening frame. Interestingly what Google displays in the video box is not always the opening frame, so sometimes you don't get to decide. Just make the videos easy to watch.
Related Videos. When Google displays a video in the search results and you watch it directly in the results, there is a link that appears that says "Related Videos". I haven't tried this, but if its a very popular type of video you might submit some videos to Youtube in this same category or with the same title and try to capitalize on those people looking for related videos. See an example here.
5. Local/Maps Search
The best way here I think to capitalize is to make sure your business or website is listed in Google Local and Yahoo Local. Yellowpages also help (but watch those fees). Add your business to Google Local and then wait an eternity for them to update it in the results. Adding addresses on the bottom of each page of a website helps. Submit to authority directories like Yahoo Directory and DMOZ. Get local links! Obtain links from other businesses in your local space, location, industry, etc..
6. News Search
Submit optimized press releases and if your blog is spidered by Google News, optimize post titles to take advantage that they might show up in a search result somewhere. I am not completely bullish on News Search optimization, as the flood of news postings and press releases each day seem to degrade the usefulness of optimizing for this pretty quickly. However if you have a site that is spidered by Google News, consider yourself lucky. You have the keys to the kingdom to optimize as you will and test this approach.
7. and others such as Books, Patent, Product, Finance, Directory, Code and Catalogs.
Not exactly sure about these, as others from the WMW thread didn't know either. I think these Universal search items might be classified as a waste of time. You decide! Unless you have a patent, you probably are not going to get in the patent search. Book scanning hasn't reached as far as scanning your home library yet, so we might just have to wait on that one. There is often a link between News search and Finance search for stock quotes. I have seen quite often posts from Seroundtable.com appear on the Google stock quote page. Might be worth testing, but in terms of monetizing, it maybe be a little difficult unless specifically targeted to a group of people interested in what you content is about. Code Search I admit I have no idea about how to leverage this, maybe someone has some ideas. If you are interested in getting listed in Catalog search, you need to start uploading offers and products to Google Base and also see this page here about Catalogs FAQ.
Continued discussion at WebmasterWorld Supporters Forum