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May 17, 2010

Universal Search – Digital Asset Optimisation

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One of the highlights on most Sydney SEO’s and SEM’s calendars is SMX (that, and SEOToolset Training delivered by Bruce Clay). It’s a chance to meet other people in the business, bounce around ideas and theories, and gain some nice insights into areas of search engine optimisation and marketing that are often ignored or postponed for investigation on a slow day at work–of which there are very few.

This year’s SMX featured many good speakers, including none other than Bruce Clay Australia director, Des Odell. As it happens, Des spoke on one of those topics that so often falls by the wayside–Universal search. In 2007, search results featuring elements of Universal search comprised about 4% of all queries, in 2009 that jumped to 25%. Now, mid 2010, estimates put that number as high as 86% of all searches with some form of Universal.


Universal Search

Photo by Boltron via Creative Commons

Any SEO worth his/her salt will make sure web pages and images are well optimised, but few take on an all-encompassing Universal strategy. With such a high percentage of searches now containing Universal, SEOs can ill afford postpone developing strategies to take advantage the opportunities offered by these search enhancements.

Des’s first tip was to optimise all digital assets–a task, on many websites, is nothing short of monumental. With that sentiment in mind, I’ll break that task down in to smaller, easier to digest parts and deliver them in instalments. These tips are a mixture of important SEO factors and optional extras. Doing each and every item on the list might not be feasible or even advisable for your website–on that matter, you’ll have to use your best judgement. After all, if you’re already on a good system, you don’t want to jeopardise existing rankings. With that said, here are some things you may wish to investigate:

Images

Important SEO factor

  • Include relevant keywords in your image’s alt attribute
  • Surround images with relevant, keyword rich text
  • Optimise images for faster loading times
  • If your site is image rich, create an image XML Sitemap
  • Place images on pages with high PageRank
  • Optional Extras

  • Include image dimensions in source code
  • Name images accordingly (“car washing services.jpg” is better than “logo.jpg” or “19543.jpg”)
  • Create links on your site pointing to the image with relevant keywords as anchor text
  • Position images above the browser fold (within the first 850 pixels of the page height*)
  • Use high quality, relevant images
  • Create external links directly to the image, not the page
  • Include keywords in captions if that facility is available
  • Place images in subdirectories with keywords (/cars/holden/kingswood/kingswood_hz.jpg)
  • *Notes on screen resolution and pixel count
    The most common screen resolution in 2008 was 1024×768, then higher again in 2009. With a screen resolution of 1024×768 approximately 876 pixels are visible on the vertical axis in an Internet Explorer browser (with no toolbars installed).

    So, there are some points to consider as part of your digital asset optimisation strategy. Next time I’ll delve into video optimisation, but until then, Marc Elison live blogged Des’s SMX presentation which touched upon how to get videos to rank.

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