There’s more than one way to get organic search traffic. That’s the message that you should be hearing from your search engine (SEO) optimizer these days. With the advent of Universal Search, the traditional organic search result is getting pushed further and further down the page and this effect will only get more pronounced. You might also be failing to get any benefit from a whole range of highly targeted content on your site that isn’t being presented to the search engines in such a way that they can understand it and present it to searchers.
Image search is among the highest growing sectors in search. Google has taken image search very much to heart and will now present image results intermingled and even above standard organic results if it thinks they are more relevant. For example, try this link: http://www.google.com/search?q=mona+lisa
Of course, Google can’t read and understand images on its own. You need to add information to the alt attribute tag connected to the image, optimise the image filename to use relevant keywords and make sure the image is surrounded by relevant content. The Gizmodo page returned in the search above is a good example. Image optimization is especially effective in the e-commerce sector where product images can be matched to product numbers to target highly specific terms that have good conversion rates. Image search results are changing the way we interact with the search results (see MediaPost) and there is significant competitive advantage to be gained with these simple optimisation tactics.
Videos are the new images. YouTube videos are prevalent and prominent within Google’s search results, and given the strength of the YouTube domain this is another opportunity to promote content to the search engines. You can optimize videos using the same principles as in image search, i.e. add a keyword-rich title and description to your videos, whether you post them on YouTube, your own site or both. There are also options to create video-specific sitemaps if you have that level of content available.
However, there is also a viral element to video seo as this can be a very social medium. So once you have a video, make sure you promote it to relevant online communities in order to build your backlinking profile as well as increase traffic.
Local search is another of the key growth sectors within search and is worthy of an article (or indeed several) in itself. Google and the other search engines are serving up more and more local content as the number of location-specific queries increase.
Try searching for a local plumber and you’ll see why Local Search can be critical – like all the best SEO, it’s all about delivering targeted, relevant results at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The key is your address and how you present that on your site, but you can also be more proactive in notifying the SEs about where your business is located. Some key Local Search Optimization concepts:
- Tell Google where your business is located.
- Use your address and specifically your postal code prominently and in SE-readable form (i.e. text rather than an image) across your site.
- Submit to local business directories (e.g. TouchLocal).
- Use a micro-format such as hCard to describe your address within the page code.
- Create pages that appeal to specific locations and are well optimised for location-specific keywords.
- Assess your infrastructure and ensure that your IP address resolves to the location you are targeting. Some ISPs will host your site in a foreign country without telling you. Similarly, make sure the address you use to register your domain is in the country you are looking to target.
Social Media Optimization (SMO)
Social Media Optimization (SMO) is another niche SEO topic about which reams have been written on and offline. There are endless blog posts, Wiki articles, RSS feeds and community sites that will tell you that Social Media SEO is the future. It is a compelling way to increase traffic, but as a part of your ongoing SEO you should carefully assess whether this is the right kind of optimization for your target audience.
If you have the resources to commit fully to the Social Media community online, blog and respond to comments as rapidly as possible, manage your social bookmarking profile and keep your presence up-to-date and relevant, then you can realistically maintain an effective social media presence. If, however, your target audience is not in this space or you don’t have the resources to maintain a fresh and relevant presence, then you should consider carefully before jumping in.
If you do decide SMO is right for you, then, like all good online marketing, it’s also all about creating compelling content – but the trick is to enable people to create communities around that content. Promote your content on social bookmarking sites like Technorati, find the influential bloggers in your space and start dialogues with them, and leverage the constantly changing blogosphere to attract visitors and readers. As you can tell, it’s hard work staying in the social media game.
There are definite benefits to Social Media Optimization though, including that all the search engines (and Microsoft’s Live Search in particular) like the freshness of blog content, and social bookmarking is excellent for ‘theming,’ i.e. creating and linking within content that is relevant to a particular subject (see Social Media’s Influence on Search Ranking).
The viral nature of social media can also lead to an excellent link profile for your blogs, but there are costs to getting it wrong: you are opening your site, your brand and ultimately yourself up to the World Wide Web and inviting it to comment.
The principles of niche SEO are not significantly different from the principles of traditional SEO: create compelling content and make sure the SEs can find, understand and index it. There are some added twists to the detail, but stick to those simple rules and your content will soon rule the new SERPs.
Jim Newsome is Kellysearch.com’s Search Marketing Manager. Jim has more than 11 years experience in the business of building, optimizing and analyzing websites. He has worked for small agencies as well as large multinational companies and his particular specialties include Search Engine Marketing and Web Analytics.