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Universal Search and How Rich Media Content Increases SERP Visibility

Nov 12, 2019   |   SEO
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With the introduction of Google’s “Universal Search” back in May of 2007, brands have long become accustomed to the importance of optimizing a variety of different types of content to help them appear for different types of searches.

Milestone Research tracks all search appearance rich results and reports findings periodically to the community.

Since Universal Search was introduced, Google has displayed a mix of results including websites, video, local, images, news, Quick Answers, and People Also Ask results, depending upon the perceived intent of the query.

The appearance of the SERP or search engine results in page changes depending upon the query

Google pays close attention to a user’s perceived ‘user intent,’ meaning what they want to do with the results. For example, some users might seek a video that will show them quickly how to do a specific task. Others might want recipe sites, shopping options, or Quick Answers.

Therefore, as brands create content, they want to consider the likely intent of their customers and the types of content they will likely want to see as well. Researching to learn what customers desire in terms of videos, Quick Answers, local results, images, and textual content when they search for a particular type of query can help ensure that hotels and other brands create the correctly-targeted content. 

To do this, make the search personally. Look at the type of results that appear at the top of the search engine to better understand how Google categorizes this type of query. Look at how the different types of content are prioritized and use that information to help you better optimize your pages according to likely user intent. This increases the chances of the content being featured highly on the SERP.

Using your sitemaps properly

Since 2007, Google has offered a Google Sitemap Generator tool. Now, via Google Webmaster tools, you can create a separate video sitemap file complete with title and description tags allowing yet another way for web crawlers to index your page.

This helps in optimizing (dominating) search engine results effectively by adding video search, blogs, news releases into your marketing mix. From a hotelier’s point of view, it is important to look at your marketing mix as a combination of all the media above – websites, online search engine optimized video, images, blogs, and press releases

As you generate your sitemaps, make sure that you properly account for the different types of unique content on your site. For example, you can create a video-specific sitemap within the larger sitemap. This makes it easier for Google to ‘see’ and understand that there is a video on the page and the value it offers users. 

What does this mean? More Traffic! With the pressure for webmasters to adapt to new ways of getting top rankings for their relevant search terms and keywords, Google SiteMaps lends a helping hand. “By submitting this video-specific Sitemap in addition to your standard Sitemap, you can specify all the video files on your site, along with relevant metadata,” said the Webmaster Central blog.

Incorporate schema as well

In addition to building a thorough sitemap that helps Google understand all the content on your page, you also want to make sure you make your content relevant with the schema. This extra data helps to guide the search engine through the content on the page so that it can properly identify the content you have created. It can also help you highlight important information, such as the start time for events or job listings. 

With schema, your page will help the search engine properly categorize the information, which then increases your opportunities to get the content displayed for the appropriate searches on the Universal Search page.

Google continues to look for ways to deliver customizable search experiences for each of their users. They strive to understand the intent behind particular queries so that they can return results that not only prioritize answering the question the user has, but also returning the type of content that the user will likely view as the most helpful. 

Google’s display of a variety of different types of content on the SERP, depending upon how the search engine perceives the intent of the query, means that brands have an incredible opportunity to build their brand and seize this real estate. Learn more about the intent of your customers and create content that aligns with their needs– both in type and substance.

Learn more about content marketing as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy.

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