It wasn’t that long ago that the concept of searching the web gave a visualization of finding the desired information in a like-minded format with our ‘search term’ at the top of the page and results listed out in a pretty basic format. Every business wants the sacred ‘1st page result’ on search engines (hopefully earning the fabled revenue that comes with it.)
The search engine struggle also became like a big game of poker: some businesses risked everything on the wrong hand only to have search giants such as Google ‘change the game’ on them. This made progress and expertise in winning the game a difficult proposition (when the house knows the players are winning, it wants to change the rules…)
As search engines like Google began indexing more and more information, the format and availability of non-text information became available. The influx of different types of information give search engines a continual excuse to change the game. It leads to a constant shift of how page one results appear; having visual elements inserted into the mix, along with information that was ‘related’ to the search.
Understanding the game
If we take this basic concept and then visualize the fact that people are simply creating millions of pieces of data every single day, search engines have an infinite playground to test different formats and functionality.
The shift of different formats affects the functionality that businesses rely on for promotional and brand exposure. Every shift creates a gap in learning and opportunity. Depending on the nature of your service and profession, how search engines present your information alongside of competitors and related businesses can drastically alter the way you need to coordinate your online presence.
To take advantage of how search engines present your information and to achieve page one results, we need to think about some of the core content blocks they utilize:
- TEXT – typically found on websites and digital brochues
- VIDEO- pulled from Youtube, Viddler, Metacafe, etc.
- IMAGES- pulled from site pages, Flickr, Picasa, etc.
- DOCUMENTS – pulled from PowerPoint, Slideshare, PDFs, Whitepapers
- NEWS- pulled from time stamped portals such as newspaper sites and blogs
- PRESS RELEASES- indexed from wire sources and bulletin syndicators
- REAL TIME- pulled from microblogs and commentary (Twitter , etc)
- SOCIAL DATA- related to the user, pulled from social networks (Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Linkedin, Etc)
Markets and Keywords
What type of people search for your product?
How do people search for your type of business?
The answers to these two questions can radically affect how Google presents data to the end user. If Google thinks you information is related to a local process, it presents segments of data about the local market it wouldn’t present on other types of searches.
To help show this in action I pulled screen shots to show Google’s page one results on these search terms:
- Seattle Restaurant
- Seattle Camera Store
- Seattle Hotel
- Seattle Space Needle
- Seattle Local News
The image below (click for full size) details some pretty remarkable differences:
- Seattle- includes basic map inclusion, news, and images content. All types of info are proportionality displayed.
- Seattle Restaurant- local maps dominate 60% or more of the page, including segments for individual map photos and user reviews.
- Seattle Camera Store- local maps gain top position with reduced visual coverage, includes user reviews.
- Seattle Hotel- local maps dominate 60% or more of the page, including segments for individual map photos, user reviews, booking advertisers.
- Seattle Space Needle- includes singular ‘local hyper media’ map, specific listing info, photo images, video clips, and similar page recommnedations.
- Seattle Local News- includes unique “sub search box” for 1st position, local news content, no maps.
What Does This Mean to You?
The reality of page one results:
In addition to thinking about how you drive traffic to your business, you have to put your thinking cap on and examine the words and audiences that drive your exposure.
As Google (Bing, Yahoo, etc) identify that a niche is large enough to customize information for that audience, the resulting information they are trying to display changes. If you can present the best and most relevant information for your niche and for each type of content, the potential gain to be earned is enormous.
How to Maximize Your Presence
Take a look at the top ten to twenty keywords that drive your business.
- Take a screenshot of each search result page and paste them into a single document.
- Look for content that duplicate across multiple keywords that are important to you.
Creating content for these categories will allow you to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and maximize your efforts.
- Look at your overall brand and company presence on other sites.
You should think about top sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, and Linkedin.
- Consider how you release ‘time sensitive’ information.
Look at your company newsroom, executive blog, news wire, and press releases.
- Think about your real-time interaction (Twitter, Facebook, Commentary)
Some search results are looking for conversations happening in the past few hours. If you aren’t in the conversation or working with someone to represent your side of the conversation- there isn’t any way people will find you.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Understanding how all of these things link together to form a singular presence is very important. If you haven’t read it yet, check out my previous article on SEO Site Structure and HUB methodology.
What are your best tips for a winning game on page one?