One of the few things to be counted on in search marketing is that there will be change. That change comes in many forms including search engine algorithms (albeit more gradual than large, singular events) and consumer search behavior, as well as the introduction of evolving search channels such as social search and the semantic Web.
Universal (or blended) search, which is the practice of querying distinct databases such as image, video, blog, news and products and then incorporating them into standard search results, presents the most significant change in search engine results page user interface in at least five years. For marketers, the challenge is that the same rules for Web page search engine optimization (SEO) do not apply when optimizing video, images, news or blog posts to show up in universal search results.
With universal search results, it’s no longer enough to retain a competitive advantage through a singular focus on Web page optimization. Consumer search and information consumption trends towards video, interactive and content sharing present a different set of expectations within the search experience. Content creators and marketers must meet those demands through more robust asset optimization efforts like digital asset optimization (DAO), which refers to the practice of taking inventory of a company’s marketable, digital assets and implementing a process for keyword optimization and promotion to relevant channels.
DAO also has distinctive traffic building opportunities with each type of media that is optimized. For example, video, image, podcast, new release, blog and RSS feed optimization can facilitate visibility on dedicated search channels, within social communities, through syndication and republishing.
So how is DAO different than SEO? SEO typically focuses on improving the discovery and indexing of a company Web site by search engine spiders as well as organizing content, keyword placement and links. The overall goal is to give standard engines the signals they need to rank relevant pages in favor of the company.
In contrast, a DAO strategy is holistic and identifies content in all its forms, formats and intentions and applies filters to qualify what is most promotable. Keyword mapping to each promotable asset (both on and offsite) along with a content promotion plan helps organize and keep accountable the digital asset optimization effort.
Web sites with substantial varieties and quantities of content types gain great advantage by leveraging digital assets. The challenge is organizing a complex process that extends far beyond optimizing Web pages to content produced in various areas of an organization. For example, when implementing a DAO strategy, it is important to coordinate SEO and asset optimization between the Web content team, brand managers, PR, legal, marketing and even different business units/departments.
It can be argued that the notion of optimizing digital assets is simply an extension of search engine optimization in the same way optimizing social media has evolved. There’s no doubt that SEO is constantly changing. Paying attention to new search channels, consumer demand for rich media and the need for content types against which to advertise, is a real opportunity for those marketers ready to take fundamental SEO to the next level.