Okay, Google isn’t falling, but it is changing…again. In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), hysteria seems to be setting in. However, Google is always changing and trying to improve search results. Recently, there was the increased personalization and Google Plus integration (Search Plus Your World) and last week two news stories hit the headlines. One was Matt Cutts’ presentation at SXSW in which he mentioned impending penalties for “over-optimization” being rolled out in the next few weeks. The other was a story in the Wall Street Journal about how Google would be going through a major change as it incorporated more “semantic” search and direct answers into results. What does all this mean for screen media and its online presence? How can film, television and online video properties like web series weather and even take advantage of these changes? Should you panic?
Why all the Fuss?
Search is a big deal. Despite the amazing growth of social networks, a recent PEW study showed search engine use is increasing and continues to be one of the most popular activities online. Google and Bing are constantly evolving to meet this appetite. Personalized, social, and semantic search signals are already incorporated into the major engine algorithms but their use and application is growing. Personalized search means the engines take into account information about an individual (location, time of day, search and click history, etc) to provide each person with answers (and ads, of course) that will mean the most to them. In social search this gets taken up a significant notch when information from an individual’s social networks and their online communities is also factored in. Semantic search involves an understanding about language beyond just the words typed into an engine. It tries to grasp the wider, more intuitive context and meaning so when someone types in “jaguar,” for instance, the algorithm will know whether that person is looking for information on the jungle cat or the car.
All of these elements inform the ultimate goal of a search engine like Google – to give searchers exactly what they are looking for in the first few results instead of having to dig through many pages and different combinations of terms. The same PEW report shows that many people find these ideas creepy and view them as invasions of personal privacy, but searchers are actually more satisfied than ever with the results they are seeing. Google and Bing will continue to change and evolve to remain relevant in the world of content and information discovery. Does this mean your digital marketing tactics have to change and evolve too?
What Do I Need to Do?
It may not seem fair that search is so important and the “rules” change all the time. But the reality is that these rules are being set up to return the best content and search results. The trick is to not panic and be reactive like Chicken Little. In the world of online video content, whether for a film, television show, web series or transmedia project, Internet search is still a highly underused digital marketing tactic. Here are 5 ways you can deal with these ongoing changes in your search marketing strategy:
1. Have a Plan
The best way to avoid panicking is to have a plan. While you should be flexible it is important to have a roadmap to guide you, especially through times of change.
2. Stick to the Basics
Best practices for search engine optimization (SEO) will take you far even as the engines evolve. While I have discussed these in various places in my blog, take a look at my recent post on SEO Resolutions for 2012 to get an idea of what these include.
3. Be Authentic
I am a BIG believer in authenticity leading to long term success. Any digital marketing strategy you undertake for your project must be authentic to your story and your audience. Authentic SEO is one way to honour this and will provide you a strong foundation for all your other promotional efforts.
4. Trust Your Content
You’ve created great content. Your story matters, moves and entertains. If this is true about your screen media project then you are well ahead of many others out there. Trust and support it in the way you promote and optimize it for the web, in video, text and images and don’t try any quick and questionable marketing tactics that could undermine it.
5. Learn Your Language Ecosystem
Personalized, social and semantic search means your audience may not have to be as precise in the language they use to find your project. But the engines continue to look to the wider context, perhaps more than ever before. While it may not be all about precise keyword research in the future, the words you use to describe and talk about your project will create a language ecosystem throughout the web that will provide that context. Having a plan for and consistency throughout this ecosystem will only become more important for discoverability over time rather than less.
What Do You Think?
Maybe you were not even aware of the buzz around changes at Google. But if you were and were wondering how this was going to affect your search and digital marketing strategy, hopefully this post has put some of your fears to rest. The true impact of these changes will not be apparent for a while anyway, but I’d love to hear from you about your film, TV or web series project and how you are leveraging search. Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
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