Optimizing Your Site for Google Universal Search

Last week we discussed the complete package that represents GUS, or Google's Universal Search. Today we will now discuss the optimization of key components that any business can use to further their search engine promotion.Please note that this post will discuss the common traits that all businesses will need to use. Special or niche products like Google's Book Search for example will not apply to most businesses, and has therefore been left out of this discussion. For help with marketing your site and business through these other mediums, please contact us today.

What products can all businesses use for more coverage in Google Universal Search? The three that come to mind would certainly be Google Base, Google Images and Google Local.

Google Base Optimization
Google Base is a tool that allows site owners to conveniently list their inventory on Google. Google then uses that inventory and tries to match it up to appropriate search results for a given user.

By default, Google requests the following information on a per product, or per service item: brand, condition, description, expiration date, id, image link, link, price, product type, and the most important — the title of the item.

For the sake of example, let's say that your business sold and serviced jewelry. While you could list an engagement ring as a “1 carat platinum ring” — you won't get much exposure. You must force yourself then to use the title and the description fields in Google Base to become very descriptive.

Try labeling that same ring as “1 Carat (ct.) Princess Cut Diamond on Platinum Engagement Ring Band”.

Seem overboard? Think again! You have suddenly opened up the door for a number of highly searched for terms like… “engagement rings”, “princess cut diamond rings”, “1 ct. diamonds”, etc.

Throughout your use of Google Base though, be sure that you reference the best pages on your own site. Remember that a user will search someplace through Google and be left off on your site when they're finished. While you may be tempted to put them through to a shopping cart page that instantly adds that item to their cart — it really cannot be advised. Users coming into your site from Google Base will need to be comforted by the fact that they have left a large company in Google. Be sure then to market your pages to be as thorough and as descriptive as possible without distracting from the product at hand.

Finally, be sure to check your web analytics to see how people who buy originally arrive at your site. You will find that many people will search by specific criteria, such as color, material or style. Google Base Optimization is a continuing effort where you will need solid tools in place to get the best results from. Once things are covered though, it is well worth it!

Google Images Optimization
Images from Google Images is now being shown in the normal search results. Here are a few step to insure images from your website optimized:

• use alt tags
• keywords in the title attribute
• text around the image should be related to the keyword
• keywords in the file name
• don't include images into external css or javascript files

Do not stuff too many keywords onto your images, use the appropriate keyword for each picture, and use different variations of it in the alt tag, in the title attribute, and in the file name.

Remember not to go overboard with optimizing your images, abusing it will just make it that much harder for everyone in the future to optimie.

Google Local (and Google Maps!)
If there is one area where Google's Universal Search will excel, it is in delivering local results to users that make perfect sense. Looking for an opportunity to dominate 1/3rd of the screen on Google Search Results? Google Local is the way to go. Any search that involves a unique city name, zip code or regional information is enough for Google to try its best.

The service is still so new though, that businesses that pioneer the submission process in their own region stand to be given large amounts of traffic as this service matures.

Thankfully, the “optimization” of Google Local is simple. Log in, submit your business, and keep feeding them information. Be sure to include anything and everything you can on your business. Google is all about pushing Google Local results out to users — so the more you add in, the better.

Remember too that once verified your listing can be changed again and again. Just log in, choose to edit your business, and you're done!

On a site or page level, be sure to include your businesses address, phone numbers, and active contact information. Many of our clients have also begun using a direct link to Google Maps for linking to driving directions, and that has really helped to catapult their Google Local listings. Give it a try or call us for more complete service packages!

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