How do the search engines determine what Web site should carry greater credibility in presenting search results?
Dating back to the "dark ages" of the Web, increased back-link counts (hotlinks on other Web sites linking to your site) have been instrumental in helping Web sites climb in search engine placement, also known as search engine optimization (SEO), explains Michael Schwartz, founder of WebWire.
"Just getting links to your Web site doesn't do the trick any more," he notes. "You now have to get links onto highly trafficked or high-ranking Web sites."
Schwartz also notes that "back-link count is still a fact of life concerning online publicity and SEO, so carefully evaluate the quality of the Web site that might carry your link." He also encourages proactively engaging quality online services to disseminate your news or press releases on and over the Internet. In addition, remember to include your link.
This emerging PR effort now adds another layer of value to the old PR stalwart, the press release, especially releases targeted directly to Internet readers. "It's not just the well-written words that carry the message," Schwartz adds. "Now it's also an electronic Internet connection within the release that tells the search engines that the content is of merit."
Why should a company start a video blog?
If you want to manage brand reputation, change behavior among publics, and reach marketing and sales goals, a video communications strategy with a feedback mechanism (a video blog) for internal and external communications is a necessity, says Doug Simon, president of DS Simon Productions.
"The conversation is currently going on without you," he notes. "By not participating, someone else is writing the rules and managing it, often to your detriment. Increasingly, one-way communication is seen as inauthentic and a major reason institutional trust is declining."
Thanks to the blogosphere, staffers are now a key constituency for external communications. "Video blogging on your intranet increases engagement with 'right-sized' program content and a participatory process improves morale, contributes good ideas, and spots problems," Simon states. By including video in your blog, audience connection is deeper.
A fear exists that video blogging will quickly spiral out of control, "however," adds Simon, "the reality is that if proper expertise is brought to bear, it is a controlled digital communication system that is necessary to build your brand."
How will Google's new Universal Search model affect those doing business online?
According to Lisa Wehr, CEO of integrated online marketing company Oneupweb, it will have a major impact on businesses and how they're seen online. "It's a whole new world out there," she explains. "A single Universal Search result may include images, videos, blogs, maps, and news stories."
Businesses should begin incorporating these elements into their Web sites to stay well positioned on Google, adds Wehr. Universal Search elements launched in May are already having an impact on search results. "Some sites are seeing their positions fluctuate daily as news stories and blogs relating to certain keywords become virally popular," she notes.
Marketers need to be proactive and vigilant. Wehr suggests adding content to Web sites such as podcasts, company blogs, and sending regular, well-optimized press releases. "Look for viral opportunities, including news, images, and videos that will create discussion on blogs and social sites," she says.
Send your questions to: email@example.com. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.