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November 27, 2007

It’s the Holiday; Where Are the Images? The Video?

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Yesterday was the god awful Cyber Monday. The day when customers’ inboxes were filled with messages from their favorite retailers demanding that they stop working and spend the day shopping. Right now! Quick; you want to take advantage of lame offers like free shipping and 20 percent savings, right? Yawn.

I don’t know how you felt, but I found the whole thing a little bit disappointing. It was a nice illusion the businesses offered. They made it look as though they were Web savvy and interested in reaching customers the way customers like to be targeted. But in the end it fell flat. I was especially disappointed in the smaller mom and pops. They were virtually nowhere to be found yesterday.

Having once worked for a company whose ability to stay alive heavily relied on what it pulled in during the holidays, I know how important it is for small businesses to convert during this time of year. It can make or break you, and the competition is fierce. How is Joe’s House of Electronics ever going to compete with the likes of Best Buy or Frys? How are they going to steal eyeballs? Well, you have to get in your customers’ faces and fill in all the holes being created by the big guys. You have to take advantage of blended search.

But the idea of blended search or image optimization doesn’t seem to have penetrated the minds of business owners yet.

It’s the holidays, people. The time of year when people allow themselves to get caught up in the moment and spend more in a few weeks then they will all year. Why the hell are you not pulling out all the stops? Why are you not taking advantage of blended search? Why are you not helping users buy your products?

Knowing that the search engines are taking increased steps to index video and images, I’m still shocked by all the sites out there not offering large, delicious images and short, informational videos about their products. How hard would it be for Joe’s House of Electronics to create a video demo’ing the latest stereo system or HDTV system they have, optimize it, and then feed it to Google or Ask in hopes that it will appear in the blended search results? That’s how you’re going to attract users onto your site. By taking the time to provide the information that most of the big dogs just don’t care about. You have to make yourself more relevant, more exciting, and better than your competition.

Amazon has been doing a good job using video to excite and engage users. I’ve actually been doing a lot more of my holiday searching on that site this year. It’s not because I have any type of affinity for Amazon (I don’t), but they’re integrating video in a way that’s smart and helps users understand what they’re looking at. Check out their listings for Super Mario Galaxy, the Air Hogs Helicopter or The Nerf N-Strike Disk Shot. They’re great.

How does a blended search-savvy Internet marketer beat Amazon? They create a video showing off the cool graphics and features of Super Mario Galaxy and then they upload it on YouTube and include a link back to the product page. Chances are, thanks to YouTube’s high PageRank and Google affiliation, you’ll get your video ranking above Amazon’s listing for the product, entice users to click through, and maybe even get the conversion when they use the product description link you’ve provided for them. They never even had to look at that little Amazon listing sitting at the bottom of the SERP.

And what about image optimization?

When I see small business not optimizing their images for blended search it really makes me want to throw Susan through a window. It’s no secret that users like to get a visual feel for the product they’re interested in buying. They want to see it, to use the 360 degree view to spin it around, and check out all the nooks and crannies. Sometimes the image is what helps them figure out what the heck it is and whether or not they can live without it.

I’ll give you an example. My little brother wants an iPod Touch for Christmas. He spent a few hours with Tamar and now he’s convinced that he needs both an iPod and a Wii to survive. He mentioned it to my mother and she quickly summoned me to the computer while I was back East last week and made me explain to her what this "touch pod" thing was. I did a quick image search for the product, showed her what it looked liked, explained the purpose, and gave her all the info she needed But take a look at the Image results when you query [ipod touch]. They’re all blog entries or manufacturer sites. There’s not one retailer in the bunch. That means, in order for my non-computer-savvy mother to buy one, she’d have to go back and conduct another search. Guess what? My mother can’t do that. She’ll get lost and so will your $300. Sorry.

It’s time for small business to get smart about blended search. If you’re selling a product, make sure you’re optimizing your images so that they come up in the search verticals. This idea was important last year but it’s even more important this year now that blended results are popping up everywhere. Including images and video for you products increases the informational aspect of your Web site and the chance that you’ll show up on the first page of the SERPs.

If you need some tips for optimizing your video and images for the blended search, check out our session recaps for Merging Video and Search Engine Optimization and Images and the Search Engines.

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One response to “It’s the Holiday; Where Are the Images? The Video?”

  1. Shama Hyder writes:

    I am truly amazed at how many people don’t optimize their pictures-especially businesses! And sadly Lisa-no one offered me any coupons or free shipping for Cyber Monday. At least, I wrote a free marketing report for my clients. = )



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