Tuesday, 16 December 2008

What content types can Google search?

SEO is so much more than trying to get pages or text to rank highly in search engines. With the large variety of content that can now be searched with 'Universal Search' (Google's term for providing something more than just text results) it's worthwhile making sure all the other types of content you publish are correctly optimised.

Top of a Google search results page
Text page in Google search resultsText
OK, the basic thing that all search engines cover. If you have text on your site, a search engine spider will read it and often index you. Text pages are returned in search results if the search keywords match their content and ranked according to the usual SEO factors including linking, keyword density, commitment etc.

Images in Google search resultsImages
Google Image Search "analyzes the text on the page adjacent to the image, the image caption and dozens of other factors to determine the image content." (image search FAQs). Some of these other factors may well include alt tags. So ensure your adjacent text, image caption and alt tag are all keyword relevant and targeted to the keywords you wish to rank for. If you are a news site and want your image to appear in Google News, ensure it is inline.
Video in Google search resultsVideo
There are a number of things you can do to optimise videos. Especially important now video results are being returned in the standard Google search.
Flash page in Google search resultsFlash
It was announced back in July that Google will index flash (SWF files). The original Google blog post has some more information on exactly how it works.
PDF in Google search resultsNormal 'text and images' PDFs
Google will search and index PDFs much as it does HTML. There's lots you can do to optimise your PDFs for search engines.
Scanned PDF in Google search resultsPDFs of scanned docs
Google have started indexing PDFs of scanned docs by using text recognition software (OCR) to 'read' the text. Announced at the end of October it's definitely worthwhile getting any PDFs of scanned docs online if you haven't already. Forgetting Google they may well be good content for your users anyway that will encourage linking.

News page in Google search results
Products in Google search results
The previous 6 results summarize the main content types available online that can be indexed however also included in 'Universal Search' are a number of other types of content such as Google News and Google Product Search (formerly Froogle) that I haven't mentioned above as the on page optimisation remains the same - the results themselves are text - however it's essential you go through the necessary submission processes to get on these 'vertical search' engines (search engines providing something specific - the opposite of universal search really).

To list some vertical search engines:
  • News aggregators - Google News has submission guidelines. Also make sure images are inline as mentioned earlier. Don't forget other news aggregators such as NewsNow.
  • Product search - Google Product Search as mentioned above, there are also many other search engines and sites that will list products.
  • Business searches - Google Maps: Local businesses can add their details so they come up in searches. Yell.com: One of many traditional online business directories
  • Blog searches - Get a blog and appear on a whole of host of search engines including Technorati and Google Blog search. This will also tap into the world of social bookmarking - which any page can do but blogging started it.
  • Google has loads more including Google Book Search. Plus even more really specific searches but I think they are mostly done via various partners so you probably can't get on these.
  • Mobile - And then last but not least it's worth considering search optimisation for mobile. With increased mobile internet usage search engines are going to have to start providing mobile friendly results.
  • and many more...
Related posts
Is structured data the future of search? (Mar 2010)

Monday, 15 December 2008

4 basic video SEO tips

Since before YouTube launched in 2005 video has slowly become a bigger and bigger part of the internet. Video specific search engines have cropped up including Blinkx and Google Video, the latter feeding its results into the main Google search listings.

Video is another way to reach your users so the search optimisation of online video is nearly as important as the SEO of text.

Metacafe and YouTube1. Exposure - Put your videos on video sharing websites such as YouTube and Metacafe. You can of course put videos on your own site either via flash player or YouTube embed code but the advantage of video sharing websites are their large amount of video hungry users.
Google Video and BlinkxVideo search - You'll appear in video search websites such as Blinx and Google video if your videos are on YouTube or Metacafe but you can add your own Media RSS feed of your videos to these sites too.
(Clearly rainbow coloured logos are a prerequisite of having a video search site).

Useful link - Here is a list of video sharing and video search websites plus the relevant links to their submission pages.

2. Keyword optimisation
Screenshot of YouTube video titleOptimise video much like you would images.
  • Include keyword rich and relevant titles and descriptions - in the case of video sharing sites this is what appears as the page title and description in search listings.
  • Adjacent text is also likely to affect the video SEO. Google explicitly states for images that they analyze "the text on the page adjacent to the image, the image caption and dozens of other factors to determine the image content." I don't think it's presumptuous to assume this may also be a factor in video SEO.
Closed Captions Logo3. Closed captions and transcripts
When included in the video closed captions are an option that can be turned on by the user. This includes things such as subtitles but also environmental sounds, musical score, different languages etc.

These are of great benefit to users and vital for accessibility. Closed captioning allows your video to reach a far greater audience. YouTube explains how to add closed captions.

Their benefit to SEO is not obvious outside of the fact that the most usable and accessible sites tend to invite the most links.

However separately available video / audio transcripts CAN be particularly good for SEO, in addition to the embedded closed captions. If you have the transcripts then include these for download (as PDF) or even on a separate web page. This provides text that can be indexed not only extending the reach of the video but producing good content. More on this here.

4. Alternative HTML content - with the recent addition of flash indexation by Google you can use the SWFObject code to put alternative text behind the video for SEO.

Google Audio Indexing (GAUDI)We may at the moment just be stuck with the above optimisation methods but it's possible Google may start reading your video's audio tracks in the near future. Google have started beta testing GAUDI (Google Audio Search) on their YouTube political channels. It’s an audio search of YouTube videos. They take the audio tracks from videos using speech recognition technology and automatically convert them to text.

Useful links: ReelSEO - Fantastic video SEO site that I’ve just discovered.

Related posts
How to optimise your PDFs for SEO

Friday, 12 December 2008

Why do companies use illegal advertising?

Just discovered my uni dissertation looking at why companies use illegal advertising and thought it worth putting online.

Please reference me if you need to use any of it; however it has references throughout so you can probably just go back to the source material. It's also written in 2003 so horribly out of date.
 Executive summary
“Last year, the Advertising Standards Authority dealt with complaints about a record number of advertisements. Over 13,000 people wrote to the Authority about advertisements.”
(Source: "Legal, decent, honest and truthful" an introduction on a booking form for a CIM lecture on 8th May 2002. Chartered Institute of Marketing Scotland.)
This project asked the question why is it necessary for companies to act in such a way when the very people they are trying to reach are the people who are complaining about what they are doing?

Some of the most memorable adverts of recent years include an Opium poster campaign that was banned for being offensive and degrading to women.

Opium perfume advert with a naked Sophie Dahl
(Image source - BRIERLEY, S. (2002) The Advertising Handbook, 2nd.ed. London: Routledge. p.221 figure 14.3 © Yves Saint Laurent: Steve Miese)

Despite being banned, the advert created “an enormous amount of extra publicity for the Opium brand.” This project discovered whether illegal advertising such as the Opium advert is necessary to both the public and the advertising industry. Within this was considered the role of the self-regulatory authorities and how their roles and the powers available to them need to change.

Ethics was closely considered within advertising campaigns and the extent to which ethics must figure in every company’s communications.

The specific example of the tobacco industry was also considered who are no longer able to advertise and solutions to this problem and the validity of this restriction discovered.

Related posts
Globalisation within construction - CIM PGDip Emerging Themes Assignement (Aug 2011)