4 Tips for Using Blended Search
Blended search is finally getting its close-up.
The term refers to search results pages that go beyond text links and offer many kinds of content, such as video, images, audio, news and blogs. Google, Yahoo! and MSN started offering blended search results for some searches in the past year.
Earlier this month, search engine marketing firm iProspect published its iProspect Blended Search Results Study. Sponsored by iProspect and conducted by JupiterResearch, the study revealed that blended search results offer high clickthrough rates.
For example, the study found that 36 percent of search engine users click "news" results within blended search results, while only 17 percent click a news result after conducting a news-specific search. In addition, it found that 31 percent of search engine users click "image" results within blended search results, while 26 percent click an image result after conducting an image-specific search. And, finally, 17 percent of search engine users click "video" results within blended search results, while only 10 percent click a video result after conducting a video-specific search.
So, how can marketers capitalize on the blended search trend? Robert J. Murray, president of iProspect, offers these tips:
1. Assess the competitive search landscape for your business category. "A quick way to do this is to take a look at the results pages for your keywords and the types of content that are being returned," Murray says. "What do you see? Are there press release, image, video or blog results?"
As you review the various types of content that surface, he adds, be sure to also pay attention to the position of the asset types and how they rank: "Ultimately, this landscape analysis can help inform your strategy and tell you what types of digital assets you need to remain competitive."
2. Take an inventory of your current digital assets. After assessing the competitive search landscape, Murray says, compare it to your landscape analysis to see where you need coverage.
"But don't limit yourself to a first pass of what you already know exists," he explains. "Take the time to look for different forms of digital assets in other departments of your organization. Consider it a treasure hunt."
If you're fortunate enough to locate some of these assets, first assess their value., then, "if warranted, incorporate them into your overall search strategy. If gaps still exist, you'll need to initiate some development efforts," Murray advises.
3. Find additional external resources for your content to populate. Murray recommends using social networking sites such as Facebook or YouTube as external resources for your content.
"In essence, " he explains, "such sites act as an extended platform for your brand messaging, as they provide additional opportunities for you to get your digital assets and messaging in front of users."
4. Optimize, optimize, optimize. "All of the above efforts will have been for naught if you don't ensure that all of your digital asset forms are well-optimized," Murray warns. "After all, the key to capitalizing on blended search is to leverage your digital assets to increase your chances of being found amid the cluttered results, and to displace your competitors in the rankings. A diverse portfolio of digital assets will be useless if it isn't optimized to show up where it counts most.
"You must succeed at this," he concludes. "If you do not, your competitors most certainly will."