Step away from your site, I dare you

Not too long ago Search Engine Optimization was all about optimizing your site. Getting the right title tags, writing the right content and using the right techniques. The only thing you were doing outside of your own site was trying to get links to your site.

Things have changed. Of course optimizing your pages is still important, important to get your own site ranking. But what about those nine other results on the first page of the SERP? They are interesting too. And theoretically they can all be yours. And for that you have to step away from your site.

Anyone who has been paying attention at SES Amsterdam and SES New York knows what I’m talking about. Stepping away from your site can mean dominance of the SERPS. Using social media together with clever usage of news-sites is the key to the success. And no, I’m not just talking about Twitter.

With the changing way the search engines are looking at how they want to serve the searchers the website owners have to change with them. Universal or Blended Search, together with social media, has changed the game.

Blended Search means that now in SERPS we can see images, local results, videos, realtime, results, newsresults, social results and much more. All these results are opportunities to get a position in the SERPS. There are three different ways in which you can dominate the search results: optimizing your content, use social media and use other sites and sources.

Optimizing the content

Optimize your YouTube videos and become one (or more) of the videos in the results, optimize your Flickr images or the images on your site and your images will show up. Take a good look at the SERPS and see all the opportunities arise. Optimize the different items well and you are on your way. Its not just about text anymore. Be sure to also look at the local options. “Getting on the map” is easy and why not do it if so many local results are returned?

Using social media

Social media is an excellent way of getting in contact with your (potential) target audience. But did you know social media can also be used to get found in the search results? Real time search seems the best example. Though only very shortly real time search is an opportunity to get into the top ten results. But there is more. Sites like Twitter, Wikipedia and Linkedin (profiles) are indexed by the search engines and rank well. Spread the right word (do keywordresearch first!) and there is another opportunity to rank.

Using other sites and sources

Think about this: your site ranks number four. Above you are one newssite and two blogs outranking you. But guess what. They are talking about you! Does that make your ranking better? Well in a way it does. Even though its not a direct hit you do get mentioned, which is a huge branding opportunity. And one way or another they will find your site. Its therefore important to spread your word the right way. That could be with press releases, but mainly you should find the niche bloggers in your industry and get them to talk about you. Be innovative, be newsworthy and those other results will come.

Off course, getting all the ten results in the SERPS is a pure theoretical possibility. The chances you will succeed in dominating all ten positions are not that big, but what I’m trying to say is you should look at the opportunities and use them. Look outside of the paved roads and look away from your site. The opportunities are there, use them. I dare you.

I am speaking on this topic this Wednesday at the B2B Marketing forum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The presentation will be published afterwards.

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

18 thoughts on “Step away from your site, I dare you

  1. Great article Bas! This was one of the eye openers for me on SES Amsterdam. Especially the idea that you can dominate the SERPs without optimizing your own website. Just by making sure the news sites and blogs that rank well publish what you want, you can dominate the SERPs for a while. Even it doesn’t get you the direct traffic the branding opportunity, as you say, could be huge. That’s also the danger on the other side. When they don’t say what you want the branding devaluation could be huge as well.

  2. ‘Off course’ – is this a small typo or do you mean ‘off course’ as in ‘not on course’?

    External links can make all the difference. I’ve seen dreaful websites rank above well-built, optimised websites because of the quality of links (and other elements). Can anyone share an example of a website which has captured all ten spots on the first page?

  3. Hi Dan, you’re missing my point I think. What I’m trying to say is that the results can be yours without them being to your sites. A (positive) article from Searchenginewatch or Searchengineland above mine talking about me can be regarded as one of my results also, even though its not my site. It doesn’t generate immediate traffic to my site, but it does mean traffic coming trough these other sites and its good for branding.

    I’m not saying links are not important, they are, especcially when it comes to optimizing your site, but thats just one of the ten results.

  4. Great Article, as always! ‘Rule the SERPs’ is one thing I keep telling audiences for quite a while. While attending SMX Munich last week most people where still surprised by hearing Marcus Tandler & co. talking about how to own the first page.

    Even though it’s cool to optimize in all different areas, I think it’s almost impossible to own all spots on the first page. At least as long as you’re searching for a ‘normal’ search term which causes blended search results as well. Being shown within the news section for example won’t be that easy, I guess 😉

  5. No worries Bas – I do get your point. Thanks for the great post. I’m sure lots of folk will find it very useful. This approach is also useful as a reputation management strategy, where you pretty mich force the less complimentary results off the page by bringing in new ones. But of course, it’s expensive – you’ve effectively got to optimise 10 websites / pages. A challenge but exciting stuff.

  6. Nice post indeed. Video and images definately are the most obvious oppurtunities to get more eyeballs in the serps, though they might not get rankings on every keyword you would wish. Also, for images I don’t really see those getting commercially interesting visitors to a site (although this might depend on the type of business you’re in). I must agree with Jeroen that for the other sources I would primarily use them for benefits of backlinks, not for them ranking independently. However, when dominating a search through other sources (that you do not own) you might be able to stimulate brand awareness and thereby increase search volume on your brand (which seems to affect ranking as well).

  7. Nice job Bas. I never thought about this before and it makes perfect sense.

    I’ve come across countless SEO “experts” that talk about tricks and tips, but all they do is rehash the same bullshit that we learned 10 years ago. Then of course they get 25 comments saying how brilliant they are and how world hunger is saved by obvious SEO. Of course I’m exaggerating but you understand what I mean. 🙂

  8. Thanks Brant, thats probably one of the best comments I’ve ever had. I really believe in this and this is exactly the type of content we want to publish here, so glad you like it!

  9. It’s not completely impossible to dominate multiple spots on the first page. Social networking sites can help achieve this imho.

  10. [Its not just about text anymore]

    Actually, it’s still all about Text. 🙂

    You wouldn’t stand a chance ranking for a specific keyword in the SERPs, If the keyword wasn’t in the image ALT-Text/Title, or youtube Title/Description.

    You do make good points! I see so many sites that have ranked #1-3 for a long time, yet the guy on page #2 of the SERPs is getting the image ranking on page #1, because he knows the value of a good ALT-Text keyword.

  11. Text in the alt attribute is very important to include a few words of descriptive text. This helps crawlers recognize the “main topic/keyword”

    [You wouldn’t stand a chance ranking for a specific keyword in the SERPs, If the keyword wasn’t in the image ALT-Text/Title, or youtube Title/Description]

    I have seen sites with no alt text at all and still rank very high. This is only to add a description to your image thus no problem at all to rank on the first page if not applied.

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