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May 27, 2009

Universal and Blended Search - Inside the Marketers' Studio

Editor's Note: This "Inside the Marketers' Studio" post, where we ask savvy marketers for their take on the burning marketing questions of the day, is inspired by a panel on comprehensive visibility challenges at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies Toronto conference.

I often hear questions about search and multiple media indexing – how do we show up in YouTube, does Twitter show up in search results, how can we get our product images to be indexed, etc. With search engines now indexing several forms of content, marketers need to understand how to get ALL of their content indexed.  I asked folks from the leading search engines to share some insights into this emerging and important aspect of SEO and answer the following questions:

  1. As a result of blended search results, what do you think is the most pressing change that  marketers will have to make?
  2. For your particular search engine, what is  the top tip you can offer marketers who want to optimize for your engine?
  3. What  are your top 2 or 3 favourite resources/tools/blogs for marketers who want to  be more effective at search marketing?

They've shared their experiences and insights below - we'd be delighted if you shared YOUR answers in the comments!

First, we asked moderator Mark Grehan for the definition of "universal and blended search" that he used to launch the discussion:

Mike Grehan Mike Grehan, SES Advisory Board &  Global KDM Officer Acronym Media

Google’s (and other search engines)  move to blended results is a natural progression to provide a much richer end user experience. And as Google changes to provide the most relevant results from a number of sources, so the search marketing industry must change with it. Now, we see a move away from the solid bedrock process of SEO to a newer process of digital asset optimization (DAO). This allows us to provide our clients with numerous different ways of connecting with their audience via everything from a pdf document to video as well as other channels such as news, finance and blog results. It’s more about visibility than it is about ranking static web pages.

Bill Tighe Bill Tighe, Agency Business Development AE, Google Canada

1. As a result of blended search results, what do you think is the most pressing change that marketers will have to make?

With the inclusion of local data, video, images etc it becomes more and more important to participate in your key search result pages.  Video search alone is fast becoming a very large part of how users are searching, and you want to ensure that your video is either uploaded or created in response to this.  Name and describe your video accurately with "search" results in mind and upload it to YouTube.  You may or may not be featured in blended search results but at least you are active and participating in a medium that is growing very very quickly.  The same applies to your local data - ensure that you are represented and have updated the most recent and accurate data of where you are locally (https://www.google.com/local/add/).  "Images" are harder to participate in but it is something that many site and business owners overlook - enrich your site with valuable images that contribute information and context to your site or business (a picture of your store front, products, logo etc).

Always a good idea to keep a firm eye on your competitive and most lucrative search result pages and keep things active, fresh and relevant.  This has always applied to your text ads but as consumers evolve and expect more - so does Google (and its algorithm) and so should you.

2. For your particular search engine, what is the top tip you can offer marketers who want to optimize for your engine?

Get Google Analytics installed on your site and pay close attention to how users are engaging with your content.  Adding relevance and value to your site based on user engagement is the best approach to SEO.  If you optimize your own site the rest will take care of itself.  Oh, and always refer to www.google.com/webmasters.

3. What are your top 2 or 3 favourite resources/tools/blogs for marketers who want to be more effective at search marketing?

Occam's Razor - if you have not experienced one of Avinash's webinars - do so ASAP.
Ad Words Editor - manage your accounts at scale - fast.  
Conversion University - if you are an effective SEM you are using analytics, and likely Google Analytics.  This is a great resource.
Google  - honestly, the SEM universe has been asking questions and solving problems for so long now that your answer awaits...just search.

Stacey Jarvis Stacey Jarvis, Search Lead, Consumer and Online, Microsoft Canada

1. As a result of blended search results, what do you think is the most pressing change that marketers will have to make?

Next generation consumers expect more from their search experience as the content on the web has evolved from purely text to now include imagery, video, audio and let’s not forget social expression.  Blended search is simply content organization, which is the first step away from the status quo of the static blue links. But innovation doesn’t stop there, and marketers need a smart approach to maximize their results.

Blended or universal search empowers marketers to get creative with content that includes video, pictures, news or local search. SERPs with blended results can also become more specialized and offer vertical specific content like Live Search Health & Travel verticals recently rolled out in the US, which can help target the best audience for your message.

To really take advantage of blended search opportunities marketers need to have the right balance of paid and organic listings. They also need to ensure brand elements and messaging are consistent across the board -- so videos, images and other organic results tie to their paid search presence and builds the brand instead of detracting from it.

2. For your particular search engine, what is the top tip you can offer marketers who want to optimize for your engine?

Live Search already offers a rich blended search experience, with web, news, maps, local, images and video. We are also working on rolling out the Shopping, Health & Travel verticals in Canada to make our offering for both consumers & advertisers richer. To ensure Marketers are reaching their ideal audience I would suggest they leverage organic and paid search across multiple engines, to take full advantage of audiences each reach through their respective experiences.
 
I’d also encourage marketers to look at our broader Microsoft offerings. Live Search integrates with some of Canada’s most popular web destinations, such as Windows Live Hotmail, our Sympatico / MSN portal and Windows Live Messenger, making Microsoft uniquely positioned to provide advertisers with a massive and highly engaged audience. With both paid and organic search results, and targeted display advertising across Microsoft properties, marketers maximize their ROI potential.

Finally, I’d encourage marketers to take advantage of adCenter’s suite of analytical tools, which help you easily target you best-fit audience and measure the success of your campaigns.

3. What are your top 2 or 3 favourite resources/tools/blogs for marketers who want to be more effective at search marketing?

adCenter Community is a great resource for any marketers looking to refine their search marketing techniques. It’s an online meeting place where advertisers from around the globe can communicate with each other and share best practices.
 
I’d also encourage marketers to get involved at the local level. Here in Toronto, organizations such as Mesh or Casecamp and events such as SES, provide opportunities to connect with peers, share best practices and practical examples of some of the great and innovative things happing in our community.

Comments

Great article Kate, thanks for providing this. For some time now it seems that we've been discussing this approach or that tool or this new development, and while this is an important discussion does it do justice to the greater picture? I'm a real believer in a holistic approach that considers the overall synergy created by a well thought out overall plan as opposed to focusing in on one thing or another and the offering here suggests to me that the blended approach is in fact the "way to go". I hope that soon we'll see some numbers that can confirm this. For companies that are just beginning this extended presence development, what do you think should be the top three initiatives and in what order?

Please keep this great info stream flowing.

We're at the edge fo the future!

Andy

The comments to this entry are closed.

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