Blending a competitive advantage
The advent of blended search by the major engines this past year changed the search landscape. The integration of other forms of digital content, such as images, video and news within the general search results, is now the norm.
But the change was far from arbitrary. Blended search is actually a user behavior experiment. It seeks to improve the relevance of the search results provided to users who launch queries with unclear intent. By mixing and matching various digital assets, and varying the position of each within the search results page, engines see how users respond to different content.
Naturally, the engines have been amassing and analyzing this data, and use it to refine their algorithms.
But change also holds important implications for marketers. Blended search essentially increases their inventory and chances of showing up in the search results.
But, that's not the only thing it increases. Blended search also increases competition. Now, it's not just your Web pages and those of your competitors showing up in the search results. Images, videos, news, local business and product reviews have joined the fray.
The iProspect Blended Search Results Study, conducted by JupiterResearch, reveals that users click on other content types within the general search results nearly twice as much as they do in vertical search results.
Given that, marketers should optimize each digital asset they have, so that it is search engine-friendly — with keywords associated with it that apply to the various content.
Identify external sources for posting those assets — videos on YouTube, images on Flickr — so individuals who never visit your Web site can still find your brand messaging.
Seek out digital assets that exist elsewhere within your organization that are not being used on your Web site — images from print ads or e-mail campaigns, videos from TV spots, radio and audio — and use them for your Web site where appropriate.
As the engines continue to use blended search to improve relevance, and searchers continue to click on a greater variety of digital assets, the competitive advantage will go to marketers with robust portfolios of well optimized digital assets.