One year after the release of Universal Search, Google's search results pages been completely rearranged. Some listings have been pushed off the page, and new listings have generated unexpected traffic for site owners. This session taught by Michael Stebbins of Market Motive shows how this system works including how to get in early as well as how the strategy for getting into Google's universal search results differs from traditional SEO. Michael covers basic strategies for getting image listings, local listings, news, video and images indexed by Google and other search engines.
Michael begins by showing the evolution of universal search. What started as simply a list of web sites and possibly a few PDF files, you now have indented links, links to video, Google news links, local/map listings, images and the like. He then points four most popualr areas of universal search - video, images, maps and regular listings.
With regards to YouTube (video) because Google owns YouTube, they have easy access to most popular video counts and can therefore insert videos into search results for relevant queries done at Google Search. So what does it require to get your YouTube video into the Google universal search results? Lots of views. Also tag your video with key phrases related to it. He goes on to show us some examples of how YouTube results outrank actual web pages tied to the video themselves. So monster hit value is key to getting YouTube video into universal search.
Ways to do this is by trickery - placing play link in high traffic areas. A gray area would be to build large social network and then send video. People click on link and Google thinks video is important. Best way is to create interesting video and then send it out to network, hoping it will explode in popularity.
Some effective video topics - tasing somebody (don't tase me bro). news (breaking or interesting), and how-tos. In generating traffic you need a compelling call to action, make sure URL is in start and finish, URL in description (add URL early and it will be live) and in some cases, the URL in the title.
People avoid video because they have mis-conceptions about ease of production, cost, etc. However, some of the worst quality videos have done very well on You Tube. Tools for capturing - cheap video camera or even digital camera, Windows Movie Maker, Camtasia, QuickTime Pro, etc. Try to favor interesting content over fancy production.
Next Michael talks about getting news results into universal search. Use press releases with video to get in the vertical news itself and then if you get good coverage, the news link may show in the universal results. What does it take? Optimize keywords for clustering. In other words, use keywords that are trendy or currently hot items. The idea is to get someone to cover you as a result of your press release. Video will help this to happen as it can attract journalists and reporters. Target New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg. Also remember that if your site is a news source, you can directly submit items to Google news.
Regarding local/maps, try to get as many local listings as possible, even if you are not necessarily a local shop. Be careful as Google recently tightened guidelines regarding Maps listings. Having local listings show up in universal results simply helps you to dominate more of that space. It is free to get listed. Being listed closer to center of major metropolitan area can help. Their system will call you so you need a phone number they can call. List all your locations as separate listings.
Michael moves on to images. Michael shows us a case study where the site did just about everything right with regards to image tagging. Keyword is included in URL, title, text right next to image, alt attribute, and link. With a Google Webmaster Central account, you can tell Google to index your images. You can also use Google Base to upload images. It is not just for e-commerce. There are over 80 alt attributes you can create. Finally use URL watermarks where feasible.
Michael concludes stating that there if a frontier opportunity right now as Google is craving content to fully utilize their universal search technology. Pick neighborhoods that relate to your resources. Finally, strategize for likely changes in the landscape.
Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Columbus, Ohio. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
September 22, 2008

David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.

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