Retailers & Blended / Universal Search

By Li Evans

This past week I presented at SMX West in Santa Clara, California on the Retail and Blended Search panel. It was quite interesting to be on a panel that also included representatives from both MSN and Yahoo Shopping divisions. There was a lot of information given, from making sure your images had feeds to looking beyond feeds for promotion of online retail products.

As we progress further and further with technology and the availability of broad band to shoppers, searchers are looking for more than just a blue link on a search results. Searchers are becoming more savvy as technology progresses, and as more and more options are being provided to them, they actually WANT more than just a blue link. So where does that leave the retailers on the web who have invested so much in feeds?

Retailers need to start thinking outside of the box, because if they merely rely on a feed to get the traffic to your page, eventually as the search results become more engaging. Retailers who just rely on the feed links will loose out on all those people clicking on video links, picture links, social media profiles, and reviews. So what’s a retailer to do?


  • Make sure your products have images.
  • Make your put captions underneath image.
  • Make sure your images folder is accessible to the search engines.
  • Name your images properly.
  • Make sure your images are of good quality.

Google actually shows different images in blended search than it does in regular image search. The thing to remember with images is that shoppers are very visual and if you have the opportunity to take advantage of image search why not put your best foot forward?


Here’s a perfect opportunity to engage consumers via a social media medium. It’s visual, its interesting and it engages a customer into finding out more information. Utilize a few of the social video sites, by uploading some short videos of product demonstrations, humor takes, or even “how to” videos. If you make them fun and interesting, there’s even a chance for them to become viral and while not directly on your site, if the description is optimized with a link to your site or the page the product is on, this can be another traffic driver, beyond the search engine.

Rating & Reviews:
If you can start reviews of your products on your site, this could be a powerful resource to help raise the quality of the page. Amazon uses this very wisely and to their advantage. Rating & review sits such as Epinions and Yelp, also hold a lot of value and can help with with yet another way to “indirectly” hold another position in the results.

Social Media Profiles:
Having profiles on various – relevant – social media sites are another way to help bring awareness to your brand, as well as your products or services. People link to social media profiles, so just like with rating and review sites, it is possible to own another spot on the SERPs in an indirect manner. Make sure that your profile on all of the social media site you belong to is properly filled out with the right URL, emails, contact information, etc.

These are just a few ways retailers can broaden their reach, beyond the regular product feed. Starting to think beyond the feed and planning a full online marketing strategy will open a lot more opportunities for retailers in the new realm of blended / universal search.

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