There’s a craze sweeping the search engine marketing world, but thus far B2B marketers have been slow to catch on. In 2007, the leading general search engines (Google, Ask, Yahoo, MSN) introduced a new feature to their search engine results pages (SERPs): blended results.
Blended search (also known as universal search) presents a new opportunity for marketers, and optimizing your content to appear in blended search results is not as difficult as you may think.
What are blended search results?
Traditionally, SERPs have only displayed text links; to drill down into a specialized vertical, such as images, users needed to go to the “images” tab and then perform their search. Search engines now incorporate images, videos, news and additional dynamic content into the results of general searches. For example, if you perform a Google search for “The Rolling Stones,” not only will you get text results such as the band’s website, but also links to news, videos, and books about them.
The opportunity for B2B marketers
Currently, general search engines return mostly consumer-related blended search results. If you performed another Google search, but instead of “The Rolling Stones” searched for a B2B product such as “Butterfly Valves,” the results would be anything but blended. It may appear search engines are favouring consumer companies, but actually it’s that these companies are the ones optimizing their content so it will appear in blended search results. Because B2B companies have yet to use blended search results to their advantage, there’s a great opportunity for them to get their content front and center.
Optimizing your company’s images, videos, news releases and the like so they appear in blended search results requires one action: tagging content. Although that sounds easy enough, it may be daunting if you have a site loaded with content and you need to optimize each piece…but it will be worth the investment.
How to optimize some of the most popular types of content.
- Videos: because general search engines cannot crawl videos to understand their content, including metadata is a must. Metadata, or the data that explains the video’s content, should be as descriptive and keyword rich as possible. Most videos appearing in blended search results come from external sites such as YouTube, so make sure to post your videos on these sites.
- News releases: optimize news releases as you would a standard web page (include keywords often and early, link to relevant content, etc.).
- Images: include descriptive ALT tags that are keyword rich, and make sure the paragraphs surrounding the text also include your keywords.
Although blended search is still a relatively new concept to B2B marketers, it’s only a matter of time before it catches on. Start optimizing your content to take advantage of this growing area.
Julie Mason is the General Manager for Kellysearch.com, the leading vertical search engine, with more than two million company listings from over 155 countries.