A Business Technology Place

Video affects your search engine results

Last week I posted about how video is the fastest growing advertisement method on the internet.  Also this past week, Douglas Karr posted on Marketing Tech Blog the effects video can have on search results.  Karr gives a great example of not only how video can rank highly in search results but the importance of the description of the video as a secondary way to drive customers and prospects to your web site.

I decided to do a test of my own with a video I posted on YouTube last November. The video was part of game recap between Peachtree Ridge and Brookwood high schools that accompanied a football story I wrote for the Suwanee Patch.

I first logged out of Google so that my profile could not influence the search results. Then I searched “Brookwood Peachtree Ridge Football 2011”.  My video appeared as the number four  natural search result. The full story I wrote wasn’t even on the first page of search results.

Brookwood Peachtree Ridge Football Search Results

That’s significant. The video link is posted on my YouTube channel contains no backlinks (I just created the first one) and I have just a handful of videos on it. Yet it ranked higher in the search results than some media pages including the one I provide content to!

Just below my video was a second video from the same game. This content wasn’t sourced from YouTube. It was embedded on the owning sports site. At first I thought it was for a different game between the two schools because the date said 2008. After watching it, I discovered that it was the same game in November 2011, but the owning site posted it to a page for the 2008-2009 sports videos. This emphasizes the point that Douglas Karr made in his post that the surrounding page and content for videos will have impact on the search display and could affect your search results.

The lesson for technology marketers in all this is that videos can provide influence for their content but can also provide an added lift to your search results. If you are already using videos as part of your marketing strategy then find out how they rank in relevant keyword searches. If you are not making videos for products and services then now may be the time. YouTube is a convenient host but you can use your own site as long it’s capable of adequately supporting video playback and is setup to allow search engine indexing.

The dance that matters

e-Marketers and Product Managers spend a large number of planning, measurement, and adjustment cycles trying to position their product/service within search results.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are now job functions in many corporate hierarchies. Rightly so, search results from Google, Yahoo, and Bing collect both prospective and repeat customers.  Getting to the top of the natural search results or managing a successful pay-for-advertising campaign can make a tremendous difference in the bottom line each month.

The thought occurred to me this week that in the quest to move up the search engine rankings we are in a dance with a computer algorithm.  The top dancers are awarded places in the results equated to order on the search results page.

The Dance

Are you in synch with your customers?

Successful dancers use style element such as keywords and content. Just like with human judges, our dance results are biased based on reputation (back links).

The thing is, we base our understanding of the algorithm on past results, educated guesses, and recommendations from the algorithm designers.  What’s the purpose of this dance? It’s to attract others (prospects and customers).  This brings me to my point. Who is left out of the dance if we focus all our attention on this one partner? The customer.

The real dance in the equation is with the customer, a real person. The SEO/SEM dance is important, but it’s just the warm-up for the dance that matters.  I hear the expression “content is king” quite a bit. That’s because good content that is customer driven is the key to getting a customer to use the site and to repeat their purchase (the dance!).

So here’s to the dance that matters.  You can warm-up with SEO/SEM strategies and tactics. But remember, the real prize is to dance with the pretty girl who didn’t come with a date. She’s looking for a partner. Will you dance with her?

Photo: Odissi by Iqbal Saggu is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Increase your search results rank with social media

This week, while at the eTail conference in Baltimore, I heard vendors and speakers talk about increasing Internet search results rank by contributing content to sites classified as social media sites. How does this work and what does it really mean? I’ll translate into simple talk to explain.

Search engine ranking basics

The complete system and criteria used by search engines to rank pages are not known. Marketers and search engine consultants base recommendations to clients from pieces of information that are published by the search engine providers as well as best practices and experiences from things they have done to effect search engine results in the past.

One common principal behind using social media to increase search engine ranking is called link building. In basic terms, the more external web sites that link to your web site the better. This is because the search engines see external links to your site as an indicator of authority and relevance. The higher your authority and relevance, the more likely your site will show in search engine results. Think of it as people voting for a candidate in an election.

Using social media to build links

Each time content is created on a site, it’s an opportunity to write your about brand and you’re your product/service can solve problems or benefit others. Typically each time you do this, you would also include your web site address. When the search engine robots look at the social media sites they will index and count that external link to your site.

So how can you create relevant content on social media sites with links back to your site? Here are few examples:

  • Leave comments on blog entries. Make sure your comments are relevant to the topic of the blog entry and add value to the discussion. This is not a space for a sales pitch.
  • Create blogs entries about your brand, product, or services. Explain how they add value.
  • Pay others to create blog entries about your brand, product, or services. If you do this, the bloggers must disclose they are being paid for writing their review.
  • Create views on Squidoo that reference your products and services and how they meet customer needs.
  • Share links to your site on a book mark site like delicious or digg

Caution here: Not all social sites allow search engines to index their site content. Individual posts on Facebook and Twitter are two examples. While that content may not count in the number of back links, they could still end up creating more links from Internet users that follow them and subsequently create their own content.

Let the web be a web

Once you start posting your brand, product, or service on these sites then others will copy, forward, repost, or tell others about what they see if they find your information useful and helpful. This is basically like spreading your message via word of mouth. But the great thing is that once the information is published on the Internet, it becomes a little sticky because it stays published for others to see and read.  It’s like a testimonial that keeps on testifying.

Checkout this publication from Google to see other tips on increasing your search engine results rank.

Internet search recipe? Your brand!

Over the past year, I’ve observed my kids exhibiting a similar behavior when going to various destinations on the Internet. Rather than typing “destination.com” in the address bar, they go to the search box and type “destination”. As I thought about this, three reasons came to mind to explain their behavior:

  1. It’s less typing. They have discovered a way to reduce the number of key strokes to get to their destination.
  2. They trust that the results of their Internet search will return the destination URL in the 1st or 2nd listing of the search results.
  3. People think and relate to brand names and the association to a product/service rather than an address.

The behavior I observed with my kids is not isolated to them. When I searched for some research on this topic, I found this piece about how the search box is used to type in the .com site name for online dating services.

If you look at current trends with browsers you’ll see that we may be headed for a combined address and search box. In fact, Google has filed for a patent to combine the two boxes.  If you use Firefox as your browser of choice, you will see that typing a search phrase in the address bar does return a Google search result.  It’s the number one result in the “I’m feeling lucky” search from Google. Want Firefox to return a standard search results page? Read this. For our friends at Microsoft, I tried a keyword in the address bar on Internet Explorer 8. Typing a phrase in the address bar returned a Google results page. Nothing like putting a destination in your browser for your biggest competitor.

Think about this. Why do we need two input boxes for addresses and search? It’s a nice simplification and natural advance to combine the two boxes. As I noted about, we think in terms of what we need, not an address. However,  Google and other search engines have something to loose if the two boxes are combined. If you type in “destination.com” and get a search page of results, Google is making money for the ads you see. If they combine the two boxes and you do that then you’ll be taken directly to the destination address and not see the search results. So who will win out? The consumer or the money making company?

What lessons can learn from Internet search behaviors, browser offerings, and how we market our products and services?

  • Your brand is your traffic generator. On some materials you may choose not to spell out an Internet address (destination.com). This is OK, because people will search for you based on your brand name or the type of product/service you offer and not your web address. It’s not about you, it’s about your product/service meeting a need and providing utility.
  • You need to make sure your brand is in the top slot of unpaid search results for the like key-word in an Internet search. There are many volumes of books, articles, and blogs about search engine optimization. If you haven’t already, find someone you trust and start making plans for this. You could even contact me…..
  • Put your brand in as many locations as possible. It seems obvious, but don’t have to worry about additional wording because your name only can drive awareness and subsequently traffic to your web site. This simplifies your task by both removing the task of creating copy as well as reducing the amount of space required to put your message on a particular item.