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September 4, 2007

5 Ways to Prepare Your Website for Universal Search

The way Google handles search is changing. You may not have heard of universal search yet, but it is going to affect the way your website and your company show up in search engine results, at least for Google. You may have noticed that pictures, videos and even press releases are showing up alongside websites in regular search engine results.

You need to develop a strategy to meet these changing search conditions, and that means optimizing more than just your website landing page. Images, videos and articles are all parts of your site that could be working harder for your company. Here are five tips to help universal search work for you.

Stop the presses

Make sure your press releases and company news are getting into Google News and Yahoo News. If you’re not doing press releases, you should seriously consider it. Press releases will give you one more chance of showing up in the search engine results beyond your web page. Press releases also give people looking for information about your company the chance to see you in the best light. If you play your cards right, you might get some publicity out of the deal as well.

This is the perfect chance to one-up the competition and highlight your company as an industry leader. Even if you think you have no news, you can comment on industry trends or recent studies relating to your business. The more you get your name out there, the more results you will ultimately see.

Don’t overlook images

Images are already starting to show up in search results based on text around them and the description text in the HTML image tags. It’s not difficult to get images onto your site. You can include pictures of past projects, process illustrations, graphs and charts related to your business or industry. A little creativity in this aspect of your website can pay off with your images showing up in Google search results.

Once you have the images in place on your website, make sure the search engines can find them. Pay attention to your image ALT tags, captions and surrounding text so your images show up. Always be sure to have keyword-rich descriptions with your images and use descriptive names for your files as well.

Capitalize on video content

Presentations, training videos, interviews and commercials could all be working harder for your company. Don’t let these just sit on the server when they could be showing up in search engine results and providing even more results for your site.

Consider creating a multimedia page where customers can view these and where search engine spiders can locate them. Again, be sure to have keyword-rich titles and descriptions so search engine spiders will know what they are seeing. You might also consider distributing your videos to YouTube for extra exposure and another chance to show up in the search engine results.

Make sure search engines can get to your content

Do you know if your site is easily accessible by search engine spiders? Flash-heavy sites, improper redirects and broken links can thwart your best SEO efforts. Remember, search engine spiders see your website differently than a normal user. They are looking for content and links, and it is in your best interest to be sure they can navigate your site with ease.

Above all, spiders need clear text links. Uploading a new page to your web server, while personally gratifying, may as well be invisible if you do not provide links from your main site. If you don’t lay down a clear link path throughout your site, search engines may never find your content. Site maps are an essential tool for making your content search-engine friendly. Make sure yours is updated regularly and submitted to Google with the proper formatting.

Don’t ruin your hard work

While it’s important to prepare for the future, don’t overlook the basics. Keyword-rich text and title still matter for your web pages. Quality links to your site are still essential SEO components. Just because you’ve discovered new Internet toys doesn’t mean that you should turn away from the tried-and-true methods. Use both for maximum results.

By taking the time to ensure every aspect of your website is ready for universal search, you maximize your chances of getting your name in front of potential clients and customers. Follow these tips and jump to the front of the search engine multimedia race.

Author:  President and founder of Xeal Inc., Tony D. Baker is Oklahoma’s leading Internet marketing expert with over 10 years of Internet marketing experience. You can catch Tony on the Xeal Radio Show on Sunday nights on 1170 KFAQ Tulsa or visit to sign up for a free website analysis on Xeal’s Weekly Webinar.