When flying into battle it is vital to have the smallest radar signature possible in order to avoid being blown out of the sky by air-to-ground missiles or by enemy aircraft. The pilot’s life depends on it not to mention the a multimillion dollar piece of equipment. Most people are familiar with the F-111 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit and the technology that allows those aircraft to have a radar signature of pigeon or smaller. A radar signature, for those who don’t know, is the visual representation of the radar waves returned to a receiver after being bounced off an object or even a cloud if it is dense enough. If you have watched weather reports on television that show radar of approaching bad weather then you have seen a radar signature. It is how much “visibility” an aircraft has to the radar technician.
When it comes to visibility for your website however, you want the largest signature possible. The radar in this metaphor is the search engine. [For simplicity I'll only refer to Google but keep in mind that different strategies and techniques are required for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. It is worth noting too that Google slipped in market share last month while Bing increased share and even Yahoo had better performance than analysts expected.] There are a variety of actions and requirements you need to take in order to have the largest “cross-section” exposed to Google. It is easy to focus on those actions that are obvious and/or directly connected to your business. And rightly so, that will produce highly qualified traffic and, hopefully, the largest amount of conversions. Broadly named it is what is known in SEO as short-tail keywords. The keywords users input to search engines to find the results they want. What is more obtuse are the long-tail keyword searches and the actions needed to gain exposure in order to extend market share beyond your competitive set and open up completely new markets for you. Let me give you an example.
The Long and Short of It
You operate a hotel. Your product is rooms. You sell room nights. You are located in Main City. You want every person who Googles “hotel in Main City” to find your listing and click on your link. You also want your hotel’s link to show up on Google’s first page for all variations of “hotel in Main City” such as “hotel near Main City,” “hotel in downtown Main City”, “hotel near airport in Main City,” and even account for misspellings (although Google is now accounting for that with “suggested spelling”) like “hotel in Mian City.” Those type of searches and the results are known as short-tail; meaning immediately relevant to your hotel.
Long-tail, on the other hand, might be searches for other businesses, hospitals, or universities located in Main City. You must incorporate these terms into your SEO program in order to capture that business. Now someone who searches for “General Hospital in Main City” may not be interested in a hotel but then again, they may be. These type of searches are not immediately relevant and may not produce a big increase in traffic to your site but the exposure you get and the chance that you are capturing business that you may not have otherwise gotten makes it important to your search marketing program. If you were to draw a bell curve and extend the down portion further out along the “y” axis, then that is where you have the Long-tail customers.
But There Are Others
Long and short-tail search marketing has been a best practice for quite a while now. By marketing to both you are assured of capturing most of the relevant business in your market. The problem is, your competition is doing the same thing (and often by the same company.) To extend your reach and consequently your market share you need to open up new markets. The folks at Google has long known that there are immense amounts of data that is unreachable to them. That data is not posted on websites for Google to spider with its automated programs called spiders. To imagine how much data is on the “hidden web” take all of the existing websites and multiply it by a power of 100 and you might be close. By accessing the “hidden web” Google can now make inferences based on search inputs. It allows Google to connect point A to point Q to point Y to produce search results that are more rich and accurate than is currently available. It is what is termed Semantics or the Semantic Web and it is based on RDFa programming. Without going into technical details, RDFa allows servers to “talk” with servers. A form of Artificial Intelligence if you will. The search engines learn about data and then make intelligent recommendations all because of the common language known as RDFa. To best understand this you can say that the information contained in computers and databases are all in different languages. It is impossible for the search engines to know all of these different languages. RDFa was created as a universal translator much like Captain Kirk (showing my age here) had on Star Trek which allowed him to communicate with life forms from other planets. Bringing this back to your radar signature, RDFa programming on your website allows Google to include you in its translator and connect you to seemingly disparate data. Let us return to our earlier example.
A person Googles “small cities and urban redevelopment.” It turns out that your hotel is in a database about redevelopment because the property used to be an apartment building which was abandoned when the downtown area of Main City, a small town, declined when a mall opened in the suburbs. Google can now connect your hotel to that database and your site appears near the top of that search result. The researcher clicks on your link to get a view of your hotel’s architecture. The researcher is intrigued because a result was about his favorite architect who orignally designed the building. He books a reservation so he can visit and study the building and interview Main City’s redevelopment department.
Next I’ll tell you how the Department of Defense is now mandating the use of RDFa and how you too can incorporate it into your SEO program. Another excellent blog post on this topic can be found at http://ow.ly/6D7bz
Contact me about implementing RDFa into your search marketing program which will have immediate impact on your SERPs firstname.lastname@example.org