As traditional search engines branch out to include images and other media in their regular results, as competition broadens among those engines, and as new ranking and classification schemes join the web (think folksonomies – if you don’t know the term, Google it!), focusing on keyword-rich text won’t be enough. It’s time to get topical.
Cautionary note from Ian: This article rambles a bit. Bear with me…
Content is still king on the Internet. And for now, ‘content’ means ‘text content’. Text-based content enables search, insofar as most search engines can only index and rank text-based pages. It allows folks using assistive devices, such as screen readers, to access your information. And, let’s face it, most of us are on sites to read stuff – you don’t come to conversationmarketing.com for the pretty pictures, right?
But Google has added images to some of their regular search results, now, which effectively shoves all other results down the page. Like it or not, this reduces the effect of a high text-based rank.
And social linking tools such as Technorati.com, 43things.com and del.icio.us all create new ways to sort, classify and create memes.
That means that Bragging Modestly gets a lot more complex. After all, your Internet marketing strategy will now have to include ways to game yourself to the top in multiple venues, with multiple media. Or will it?
Text search, image search, social linking and a sundry other forms of internet ranking or classification all focus on one thing: Topics.
The most successful Internet marketing strategies focus on gaining control over turf: Search engine turf (so people find you in the course of normal searching), paid advertising turf (so people find you when browsing relevant content), and idea turf (so people ultimately identify you with a subject). That turf is defined by the topics to which you speak.
You can assert control over a topic by:
Creating good content in all media: Text, images, video, audio and who-knows-what-else.
Properly structuring and tagging that media through appropriate use of HTML structural elements such as H1, H2, and the like, and through effective meta and attribute tagging, such as the DESCRIPTION meta tag, or the ALT tag for images.
Designing an effective architecture for that content, through smart linking within your site or sites, and through links from other relevant sites.
And, finally, insuring usability and standards compliance, so that people and computers alike can find you and benefit from your message.
These rules don’t change, even if access methods do. Keep that in mind, and you’ll do fine whether people find you using browsers, cell phones or those nifty talking computers in Star Trek.