You might have noticed that search results have evolved. Between Google (and Bing and the other guys) now feature a variety of results, such as news, tweets, images, and video all in the same results. These are known “blended” or “universal” search results. But did you know that you can leverage these search results to help manage your online reputation? Just think about it:
- more than 60% of users click within the first page of search results
- and about 70% of those don't got past the first 5 search results
So by optimizing your brand for all these different kinds of media, you can (1) capture more real-estate on the first page of search results, and (2) make your own results more appealing than those of your competitors.
Blended search results 101
So how exactly does blended search work? Well, when you conduct a search, Google takes your search query, runs it through its other search verticals (news, images, video, etc.), and if it finds anything that seems relevant, it displays those other results amongst the regular web results. So the first step in optimizing your brand for blended search is developing a content strategy. Specifically, it's about looking at the kind of media that ranks frequently on a blended search in your industry, and putting and devising a process to produce such content on consistent basis.
There is a variety of content that can appear in a blended search, but different kind of content ranks for different reasons. It's important, then, that when you decide to invest in producing a certain kind of content, you're produce in a way that's going to help you rank.
The first thing you shoud know about results before investing too much in them is that they are ephemeral. That is, they'll often only last about 48 hours. They are, after all, "news" results.
That being said, the best way to rank in the news search engine results pages (SERPs) is by being covered by the mainstream news media. Failing that, the alternative is to distribute press releases across major online newswires. While you should avoid the free newswires, there are several paid ones that have reasonable rates and rank well with Google News.
First, there is PR Newswire, which also has UK and Canadian portals to help you geo-target your news results. This newswire also specializes in targeting journalist where they work, which puts them on the pricier end of the extreme, but means you might end up getting that mainstream media coverage after all.
Secondly, there is PR Web, which offers a range of affordable distribution packages to fit your budget. If ranking a news listing is your main goal, however, you'll probably want to consider either their SEO or Social Media visibility package.
Finally, you might want to consider TransWorldNews. This one lies on the most affordable end of the scale, and while your releases might not end up in a newsroom, this newswire is very efficient at getting content into Google News.
And when it comes to optimizing your press releases for Google News, there are a few things you should do. First, avoid bullet lists because Google will see them as “fragmented content.” Second, include images and video in your release, because (1) it’s more content for Google to index, and (2) Google seems to prefer such multi-media content.
Part II to follow