Blended Search: Implications for B2B Search Marketing

I recently got back from SMX West in Silicon Valley, one of the premier events in search marketing. While there I attended many great sessions and also spoke as part of the session on B2B search marketing. Also speaking were Ben Hanna, Vice President of Marketing for the B2B search engine, Business.com, and Patricia Hursh, president of SmartSearch Marketing.

Many of the sessions on the first day focused on the implications of blended search on search marketers. Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal has a good wrap-up of the first session re blended search content at SMX West. Blended search (also called “Universal Search” by Google) refers to the practice of web search results including other types of search results, such as local, blogs, news, video, images, etc. We’re already beginning to see this in Google search results. The search engine Ask has multiple types of results on the search results page, but these results are clearly segmented into their respective sections on the page. On Google, however, you can see more images, news, video, local and the like actually embedded within the typical web search results.

No longer will the top ten Google search results always be ten links to the typical web page. If Google deems a video to be of strong importance and relevance to your search term, you may find a link to that video showing up as perhaps the third search result when doing a web search.

This represents both increased marketing competition and opportunity for B2B companies. Nothing really changes for PPC, or paid search. However, blended search results have significant implications for organic search. On the one hand, often there may not be 10 organic search results for web pages. It may no longer be good enough to be in the top 10 web search results. You may have to be in the top 8 to get on the first page, because you may also be competing with news items or video.

On the other hand, this creates opportunity for smart B2B search marketers. If you’re having trouble getting high rankings in Google for web search results, you may have far less competition creating highly relevant and authoritative content via video, images, or news that could get embedded in the top search results for your keywords.

This isn’t to say that just creating a B2B video geared to a specific keyword will get you a top result in web search. If only marketing were that simple. Google’s goal is to deliver relevant and authoritative content for a given search term. Therefore, the content needs to be good, and it will help if other respected, authoritative sites link to that content. Finally, you’re also going to need to optimize this alternate content properly. For instance, unless you encode and optimize a video asset for search, Google won’t be able to tell exactly what that content is.

Search engine optimization continues to evolve. It’s on to a Search 3.0 world. And there’s plenty of opportunity in that world for B2B marketers.

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