A SiteProNews article highlights five ways to rank in Google’s Universal Search. It’s an alright article, but I have a few things to say.
I found this paragraph tucked into the middle of the article:
If your site isn’t already properly optimized for organic rankings, that would be the place to start. You want to make sure you have clean, search engine friendly code and a solid foundation, as well as on-page Search Engine Optimization. This would be the starting point, without this in place you have no hope of competing in the engines – with or without Universal Search.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer really, but if you do your job as webmaster correctly then you should rank well for your keywords. Keep in mind that ranking well could take some time depending on your niche. If you are in a highly competitive industry then you’ll have to keep plugging away with content until you hit a respectable ranking – then you want to keep going. Website optimization is an ongoing process. It starts with great content but doesn’t end there.
Imagine someone does a search for what you have to offer, and in the Universal Search results your webpage comes up. In the same search your competitor’s site comes up PLUS your competitor has video, images and Blog posts as well. A searcher is more likely to click on your competitor’s site since more of the total number of results that come up will belong to your competitor.
That’s not necessarily true. It doesn’t really matter how many times a web page appears in the SERPs. What matter are the elements on the SERP page and how they are written. Just being optimized doesn’t guarantee that someone will click on your listing. The most important elements for any web page appearing on a SERP are the title tag and the description tag. You’ll want to ensure that every page you write has a title tag and a description tag that includes a call to action – the action is to click. Make them salivate and they will want your content.
The other factor is the layout of the results page. We don’t know yet how it will play out. If Google mixes all the results together (ex: videos, web pages, Blog posts, images, etc all come up intermingled) that creates one scenario. It means you aren’t competing apples to apples for the top spot. It could be video in the 1st position and you are hoping to get your web pages ranked in the 1st position.
True and very insightful. It’s still up in the air as to how Google’s Universal Search will appear on the page. It seems that every time a search is made (right now) the elements are different. Google could continue that or settle on a specific format at some time in the future. The SERP page layout could very well determine how important each vertical is.
Another way of delivering the results would be to group them by category. They could list all the Blog results, then all the video results under that, and then all the image results under that, etc.
If that is the case, you want to have something listed in each category section because if you happen to have a ranking in the last category section but nothing higher on the page, you are not likely to get a click.
The point here is that the more ways you rank and the more ways you give Google the rank you, the more likely you are to appear in the SERPs for your important keywords and the more likely searchers looking for your kind of information will find you. Make it easy for them by giving Google a lot of great content in each content category to crawl and index. How the layout of Universal Search is now or will be in the future doesn’t really matter if you are doing this.
Top 5 Ways To Participate in Universal Search
1. Google Image Search: It has always been a good idea to use images on your site for illustrating your products and services. Now customers can find your site via Google Image Search. Optimize your images with descriptive, keyword-rich file names and ALT tags. Use accurate descriptions of your image files for the benefit of those who might need to view the site in text only format.
2. Google Video (beta): Use descriptive, keyword-rich file names for your video files. Also create a keyword-rich title tag, description tag, and video site map.
3. Google News: Submit your press releases for display as news, and also as a new content page on your site.
4. Google Maps: AKA Google Local – this has been included in Google search results for a while. Give your site a local presence through the Google Maps Local Business Center where local businesses can get a free basic listing to extend their reach in the SERPs.
5. Google Blog Search (beta): Use social media and Blog engines to drive traffic to the site. Submit to the Google Blog search and have your Blog help boost you in the new world of Universal Search.
This is a good list, but there is one vertical left out. Google also has a Shopping vertical. It may not be included in Universal Search at this time, but I’d expect it to be in the future. People are, more and more, beginning their shopping for anything and everything online. By listing your products in Google Shopping, you are giving searchers one more way to find you. Whatever your product, you would not be hurt to be listed in Google Shopping and it could help with your overall Search Engine Optimization efforts.