Question: We're hearing a lot of buzz about new search opportunities to connect with customers via blogs, videos and images. How do we take advantage of these?
Answer: Before you push ahead with initiatives within any of these channels, be sure you have taken care of the fundamentals of SEO (linking, metadata, keyword-rich content, etc.) and have explored pay-per-click advertising. Once you have mastered these avenues, then it's time to explore additional opportunities.
As you begin, your first step should be to consider your audience. Do they actively participate in blogs? Do you frequently use videos and images in marketing your products or services to them? Answering these questions will help you understand the potential return for your efforts.
Next, define your goals. All too often, marketers express a desire to explore these new avenues but haven't taken the time to think about the outcome. Be careful not to get caught up in being ahead of the curve if you cannot determine how it will help your business.
Finally, think about your organization. How does your legal team feel about your company participating in blogs? Is senior management comfortable with the organization opening a dialogue with customers that might have negative comments? Don't move forward unless you are comfortable that your company can handle these new challenges.
As far as tactics go, most of the benefits you will gain by optimizing videos and images can be recognized by placing keywords in the file name and within the properties. Providing transcripts of videos is also a good idea. Regarding blogs, you can create your own, participate in others' or do both. If you do post on other blogs, make sure your posts are beneficial and not just shameless promotions of your business loaded with links to your site. Your own blog can be a good idea, but make sure to keep it fresh and allow for audience participation.
My last piece of advice is to pick one area to test and do it well, rather than trying too many new things at once and being mediocre at all of them. Overall, set realistic goals, put effective measurement in place, set a time frame and get going.
Brian Kaminski is managing director of the San Francisco office of iProspect (www.iprospect.com), a search engine marketing provider.