One of the most powerful ways to boost your organic search campaigns is with the “new publishing”—blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, and other new forms of Web content. Today, I explained the basics of search marketing to attendees the Syndicate Conference in San Francisco.
Most of what you need to know about search marketing for the “new publishing” is not so new. You need to identify your marketing goals (branding, eyeballs, or conversions) and you need to calculate your opportunity before you know how much to invest. And you need to follow the same steps as with a typical Web site, but you can add a few tweaks for the new stuff:
- Step 1: Get your site indexed. All the usual advice applies, but you can also take advantage of RSS to aid your indexing. Use Ping-O-Matic to alert the search engines whenever your blog is updated and it can be indexed as quickly as the next day.
- Step 2: Target Your Keywords. In addition to what you’d do for any Web site, don’t forget to add words on your site such as “blog” or “podcast” so that searchers looking for that form of content will find yours.
- Step 3: Optimize Your Content. Just as with a regular Web page, it is important to sprinkle your keywords into your title tags and other emphasized text, but you should take care to do the same with the titles (including channel and item titles) of your RSS feeds. And don’t forget to make your channel and item titles heading tags in your feed template so that they stand out to the search engine.
- Step 4: Attract Links to Your Site. Blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, and other fresh content are natural link magnets. In addition, you can use trackbacks to other blogs to give yourself links.
Search engines love blogs and other fresh content, which is good, but spammers are noticing too, which is bad. Spammers are placing fake trackbacks and comments on legitimate sites just to give them links back to their own sites to boost their search rankings. But maybe the worst development is spam blogs, called splogs, in which spammers siphon content from legitimate blogs to create completely fake blogs chock full of links back the sites they want to boost.
Search marketers can’t do anything about these spam activities, but the search engines will. And as with all anti-spam measures, some legitimate sites will be hurt when the backlash begins—it’s unavoidable. For now, legitimate sites should continue to publish their content as usual, but should expect that search engines will change their treatment of blogs to reduce their importance at some point in the future. When spammers target you, you’ve arrived. So, congratulations, bloggers.
Not all the trends are bad, however. Podcasts and video formats are taking off and search engines are noticing. Search engines have some work to do before they handle audio as well as they handle text. Today, audio is not often handled much better than images, where the names of files and the text surrounding the files is the best way to find them with a search query. Audio has the potential to use speech recognition to index all of the words, but search engines will have to figure out how to find the most important words—there aren’t any podcast headings and bold text to clue you in. Some research shows that intonation can help identify important words in running speech, but it will probably take a while before this is a reality. Expect that speech recognition will make audio full-text searchable by the major search engines in 2006, but without the same ability to discern the most important words they way they can in text.
Podcasts, RSS feeds, blogs and other new forms, such as video and vlogs (video blogs) are on their way to becoming full-fledged members of search marketing content types. Download the full set of charts on search marketing and blogs from my speech today.