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August 27, 2009

Engagement Objects: More than Just Cool to Look At

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SEOs talk a lot about the link economy these days. Web-based businesses should pay attention to links in order to rank.

Then again, we hear a lot about community building, too. Social media is a necessary element of customer engagement.

So which is it?

Alright, you got me. It was a trick question.

There’s no single silver bullet to online marketing success. Links and social media are both critical ingredients of a well-rounded Digital marketing strategy. But if you’re hungry for rankings and community, you’ll find common ground in engagement objects.

Engagement objects include the whole family of Web applications and rich media options that cause a visitor to become actively involved with your site. Text content makes up the vast majority of the Web, but engagement objects make up the other piece of the pie — the enhanced features that draw in users looking for more than just reading material.

Now that you’re acquainted with the terminology, let’s hear what Bruce has to say on the importance of engagement objects.

The interview took place at this month’s Search Engine Strategies San Jose. Bruce talked to ReelSEO, an online video marketing guide, about his predictions for the coming age of blended search, and he makes the bold claim that by this time next year, video will be a must on your Web site.

Blended search, otherwise known as Universal Search, has been around a while, but it’s not always present in our day-to-day searches. This is mostly because blended search results aren’t always relevant or available for some queries.

When blended results are returned in SERPs, they pose an additional opportunity to attain top rankings because they are served in addition to the traditional 10 blue links. Many Web sites don’t utilize video, podcasts, maps, etc., to enrich interactivity. Little competition of engagement objects means an open opportunity for forward-thinking SEOs.

But as more and more site owners realize the power of engaging visitors with interesting and interactive content — fun, entertaining, educational or otherwise — the more blended results we’ll see. If you believe Bruce (and I would!), competition to get ranked in those blended results will be heating up fast over the next year.

The SEO ranking benefit that Bruce speaks of in the video isn’t all that engagement objects are good for. A platform for interaction also gives your customers or visitors an exciting hub to gather around, share with friends and identify with.

They offer one of the greatest opportunities for visitors to understand the face behind the name and the spirit behind your organization. They entertain, illuminate, and sometimes even provide the common ground needed for community building.

So with the future of Web search and social communities at the top of mind, think about incorporating engagement objects on your site. It sometimes takes a pioneering mind to think outside the confines of text on a page and to develop an engagement object that will attract interest among your audience. But it’s definitely worth the challenge — for both ranking benefits and community building.

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