The search engines are hungry for vertical search content. The representation of content types beyond the traditional webpage in the SERPs seems to grow on a daily basis. In many cases it is actually easier to rank for a vertical channel like video for a given keyphrase than it is to rank a traditional webpage for the same keyphrase. Are you still trying to compete in the SERPs with traditional webpages alone? Have you given other mediums the attention they deserve?
I came across this handy Google page of 36 tools for submitting different content types. I merged a few and eliminated others to come up with a list of 21 interesting content types for your consideration. Take a look and try to think outside the box. Hopefully by the end of this read you’ll have a hit list of a few new channels to explore.
1. Webmaster Tools (link)
In Google’s Words: “Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. To get started, simply add and verify your site and you’ll start to see information right away.”
My Take: If you aren’t already registered with Google Webmaster Tools get on over there and get it done. Use it to do things like diagnose crawling issues, upload sitemaps, and obtain another perspective of linking metrics.
2. Gadgets (link)
In Google’s Words: “Building a gadget that people will want to see everyday requires thoughtful planning. Our 3-step process – Create, Promote, and Track & Optimize – will guide you through all the steps needed to make your gadget a success.”
My Take: What we’re talking about here are gadgets for iGoogle homepages. Promotion of a gadget is up to you. If done right your fans will install your gadget and you could get some nice direct referral traffic out of the deal.
3. RSS & FeedBurner (link)
In Google’s Words: “If you have a website, blog, audio/video content, or even photos, you can offer a feed of your content as an option. If you are using a popular blogging platform or publishing tool like TypePad, WordPress, or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically… FeedBurner’s services allow publishers who already have a feed to improve their understanding of and relationship with their audience. Once you have a working feed, run it through FeedBurner and realize a whole new set of benefits.”
My Take: If you take a look up at the top right hand corner of this webpage you can see that SEOmoz has 90K+ FeedBurner subscribers.
4. Blog Search (link)
In Google’s Words: “The Google Blog Search Pinging Service is a way to inform Google Blog Search of weblog updates. These updates are then published and shared with other search engines to allow them to discover the changes to your weblogs. In addition, Google Blog Search will add submitted weblogs to the list of blogs it needs to crawl and index.”
My Take: If you aren’t on one of the major blogging platforms this is probably worth a look.
5. Subscribed Links (link)
In Google’s Words: “Subscribed Links let you create custom search results that users can add to their Google search pages. You can display links to your services for your customers, provide news and status information updated in near-real-time, answer questions, calculate useful quantities, and more.”
My Take: Hmm. This one looks like it has died a slow death. In order to make it work, you’d have to create something interesting and useful, inspire ‘subscriptions’ and hope that your users browse the web while logged in once and a while. I wasn’t able to find a quality implementation example worth sharing here and it seems that most of the original adopters have abandoned their submissions and allowed them to break including Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Roundtable.
6. Google Places (link)
In Google’s Words: “97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business – a free local platform from Google. Help your business stand out. Add photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you. Highlight special promotions, post live updates, and respond to reviews from your Places for business account.”
My Take: If you have one or more brick and mortar locations, you really need to get on this… yesterday. If you haven’t actively added you own listing, Google may have done so on your behalf – and incorrectly! The example below seems to display the home addresses of dentists in the 33556 zip code. If I were a dentist I sure wouldn’t want crisis dental issues showing up on my doorstep in the middle of the night. How about you?
Really though, Google Places is an extremely important marketing channel for brick and mortars. Don’t even finish this article. Head on over to Google Places and get started right now.
7. Rich Snippets for Local Search (link)
In Google’s Words: “Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.”
My Take: Basically, Google wants to take your content and republish it on their pages. You’ll want to decide where you stand on this issue before jumping on this bandwagon.
8. Base Map Partner Program (link)
In Google’s Words: “We recognize that in order to provide our users with the best, most up-to-date map possible, we must partner with the most comprehensive and authoritative data sources. If your organization has authoritative vector data that would substantially improve the base map in Google Maps and Google Earth, we would like to hear from you.”
My Take: Does Google have your cities critical infrastructure like hospitals misrepresented? This is how you’d go about getting this type of thing fixed up.
9. Imagery Partner Program (link)
In Google’s Words: “Does your organization have higher resolution or more current aerial imagery than we currently offer on Google Earth? Would you like citizens of your jurisdiction to benefit from your imagery when navigating on Google Maps or their mobile phone? Do you have historical imagery to share?”
“Through our Imagery Partner Program, you can make your imagery useful to residents of your community, professionals in the private sector and local governments.”
My Take: No sense reinventing the wheel right? If you recently painted a giant logo on the roof of your office building, perhaps you can lobby to have local resources redo areal imagery and submit the updates to Google. Just kidding! Kinda…
10. Transit Partner Program (link)
In Google’s Words: “Currently over 500 cities world wide make their information available in Google Maps. If you provide a transportation service that is open to the public, and operates with fixed schedules and routes, we welcome your participation.”
My Take: If you are in command of this kind of data, you’re looking at a no-brainer here.
11. Street View (link)
In Google’s Words: “If you manage a unique property, such as a park, pedestrian mall, or university campus, you can request for the Street View team to visit your location. With the Street View Partner Program, we can visit your property and collect imagery using a car, trike, or even snowmobile. Once the images are added to Street View, people all over the world will be able to explore your property virtually.”
My Take: If you can convince the Google Street View team to visit your location, which is going to be the difficult part, I can’t see why you wouldn’t go for it!
12. SketchUp (link), 3D Warehouse (link) & Cities in 3D (link)
In Google’s Words: “With Google’s Cities in 3D Program, your local government, community group, or educational institution can share this 3D data with the public by adding a model of your city or community to Google Earth.”
My Take: Looking to promote your city or physical landmarks? Learn how some are using this (paid) tool to build and then showcase their landmarks and cities with 3D models shared with Google Earth.
13. KML (link) & KML Gallery (link)
In Google’s Words: “KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser, such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. You can create KML files to pinpoint locations, add image overlays, and expose rich data in new ways.”
My Take: You know how all us Search Marketers keep talking about how you should publish quality and link-worthy content? Check out what geodesicdev.com has done with KML and Google Earth. If only they had a Search Marketer supporting the effort.
14. YouTube (link)
In Google’s Words: “YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”
My Take: YouTube can be an excellent marketing avenue if you have the right kind of content. There are also some nice links to be had if you’re able to secure yourself a YouTube Channel. You can apply for one here.
15. Video Search (link)
In Google’s Words: “Are you a content publisher? Video Sitemaps are the best way to tell Google about your online videos so that they can be included in search results.”
My Take: Take this bull by the horns. It is often easier to rank in the search results with a video than it is to rank with a traditional webpage. You have a Flip, right? See what you can whip up. You might be the next weblebrity! Be sure to submit a video sitemap, host or at least embed your videos on your own site, and see what you can do about transcribing the content to provide more contextual relevance.
Oh, and try to avoid risking your life.
16. News (link)
In Google’s Words: “If you’d like your news site or blog to be included in Google News, please send us the URL and we’ll be happy to review it. Please note, however, that we can’t guarantee we’ll be able to include your site in Google News.”
“Hey, I know you!”
My Take: Once you get passed the approval barrier for inclusion in Google News, be sure that you’re submitting a sitemap in the correct format for news. News sitemaps will help you bypass some bizarro nuances with this vertical, as outlined in the third paragraph here.
17. News Archive Search (link)
In Google’s Words: “News archive search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. Users can search for events, people or ideas and see how they have been described over time. In addition to searching for the most relevant articles for their query, users can also see a historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically generated timeline.”
“If you’re a content provider with historical content that would be a good fit in News archive search, we’d be interested to hear about it. We’re looking for all the world’s primary sources, and the older, the better.”
My Take: With all this focus on the fresh web and what is happening this instant, lets not loose sight of historical value. If you are a primary source of some dusty old content… goodie!
18. Book Search Partner Program (link) & Magazines (link)
In Google’s Words: “You’d sell a lot more books if a lot more people knew about them. We can help make that happen.”
My Take: First, you’ll need to have qualifying content. Next, you’ll need to decide what side of the fence you’re on with this one.
19. Scholar (link)
In Google’s Words: “Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.”
My Take: If I was scholarly, I’d totally been up in there.
20. Panoramio (link)
In Google’s Words: Google really doesn’t say much about Panoramio but I will.
My Take: In the example above each of the images displayed in the SERPs for a location name are pulled from Panoramio. Commercial buildings, such as one owned by Cola-Cola are included. Consider photographing your physical buildings and optimizing the tags in Panoramio with location names. I’d love to see what the smart readers of this blog can make happen. Go, go, go! 😀
21. Google Product Search – Base (link) & Product Reviews (link)
In Google’s Words: “Google Product Search helps shoppers find and buy products across the web. As a seller, you can submit your products to Google Product Search, allowing shoppers to quickly and easily find your site.”
My Take: If you sell products and aren’t already optimizing a feed into Google Product Search, hop on over. Make sure that you are on-top of evolving requirements and that your data is continually. Also, see about rolling in Product Reviews powered by BazaarVoice or PowerReviews.
Are you still with me? That was a long one. I know. I hope it was worth your time and that you have a couple new channels to explore!