BruxellesIt used to be you only had one search to target – the main search page. If you wanted to rank for a specific term, you could only rank on the regular SERPs. Now, you have plenty of places on the search engines you can target. Images, blogs, discussions, real time search, Places and videos are just a few places outside of the normal SERPs. You don’t just grab the traditional SERPs anymore; now you grab hold of any search you possibly can.

However, having said that, keep these things in mind:

You can’t (or shouldn’t) try to optimize for everything.

Pick vertical searches that have an affect on your market. For example, we recently checked real time search for “Italian real estate” and found little conversation about it. This points to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, FriendFeed and Twitter aren’t the best places to target for this particular market.

Blogs, however, brought back a lot of information, as did Videos and Discussions. What does this tell us? The conversation isn’t happening for the Italian real estate market on Twitter. It’s happening in discussion forums, on blogs and through video presentations. We might include these areas in our next campaign for the client.

Videos don’t optimize like websites.

The meta description of a video doesn’t seem to matter in terms of ranking. This doesn’t mean you don’t fill it out – just don’t expect a huge spike in ranking because of it. However, testing has shown that the title and page title DO matter, and need to be as detailed as you can make it in a short amount of space.

You also have to decide whether you’re going to host the video on your server or post it on places like YouTube. On top of that, if you decide to host the video on your site, you’ll need to create a video site map and submit it to Google. Unlike regular content, Google won’t index the video unless you tell the search engine “video content here”.

Track and organize your content offerings.

If you have PDFs on your site, you need to have that written down somewhere. If you have an Excel sheet, that information needs to be wherever the info on the PDF is. The same can be said for eBooks, infographics and other images, videos, blogs, articles, whitepapers, product writeups, radio shows, pod casts, webinars – you get the picture.

Each one of these content offering types can be optimized – and should be. It may take a few extra minutes, but that little bit of time per piece can add up to big traffic if done right. Mark what the content is, where it went and how it was optimized. Don’t let a piece go out without this information.

Inventory your content and decide which type brings more back.

Some types of content creation can take an enormous amount of time (video production, for example). Before you jump on the bandwagon of this type of content or that, see what you have so far. Look at how well these things performed.

For that matter, look at the competition. What are they putting out? Can you compete, and would it be worth it if you tried? You don’t want to break your budget trying to hit all the search spaces your competitors are hitting, so discretionary spending is important.

Be meticulous.

This goes along with the “track and organize” bit. You don’t have to make sure you hit each search space once a week. However, you do have to make sure each time you hit a search space that you do so with completely optimized, user-friendly content. Before you send anything out, make sure all the t’s are crossed and I’s dotted. It might even be helpful to create a checklist to go down for each type of content.

Always have goals in mind.

You could pour content into the dark whole of the Internet and hope something floats to the top. You could, but there’s a better way. Set up goals for your content. What do you want it to do for your business, and how do you expect it to achieve those goals?

Create a content strategy, outlining what, where, when, why and how, along with a few choice benchmark metrics. “My site has [number] traffic. I want to double it within 6 months. I’m going to do this by 1…2…3…”

Anytime you have a chance to fill in a descriptive area, do so.

Did you know Excel allows you to add information in the Properties tab? So does Word, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe PDF, for that matter. Any time you create a new piece of content, look for a Properties option. If you find it, fill it out!

Save the file name with “descriptive” in mind. For instance, “10-content-development-steps.doc” is a lot more descriptive than “document1.doc”. When you upload your content, use the same information as you did inside the program, and be descriptive in the page title and URL, as well, if possible.

Conclusion

It’s funny. In 2006, people were talking about vertical search in terms of search engines separate from Google and Bing. In fact, marketers were warning that Google and Yahoo seemed to be ramping up for some seriously competitive vertical search spaces. Well, they were half-right. Because of all the changes over the past 5 years in search engines, SEO, marketing, social media and so on, it’s hard to remember this is still a young industry. If you count ARPAnet (1969), it’ll be 42 this year. If you wait until ARPAnet changed to TCP/IP, it’s not even 30.

With the growth in the past 25+ years, does it make you wonder what’s coming up? For that matter, what have you done to keep up with the constant changes? How has your site changed with the Internet? Share your stories with our readers!