My last post focused on how anyone can benefit from using press releases to boost SEO, but I purposely avoided mentioning multimedia and social media — until now. In recognition of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, I thought it would be fitting to explain how multimedia and social media can become the best supporting players in your SEO effort, within the context of a few of this year’s nominated films.
The main paragraphs in an article or release should contain all the standard content required to enable your primary message to climb Up the search engine results pages, such as headers, text and links. However, multimedia, such as images and video, are often regarded as Inglourious Basterds — unfairly so. Relevant multimedia can amplify your message for several reasons: use of images or video tends to engage the senses, multimedia can be embedded relatively easily in downstream websites, and visually, a picture speaks a thousand words and a video speaks volumes.
The first pieces of multimedia that started ranking in search engines alongside editorial content were photos and images. These days, images are seamlessly integrated in what’s referred to as “blended” or “universal” search engine results, which can generate significant traffic to web pages that embed those images. Optimizing images in web pages and news releases is straightforward. Take The Hurt Locker movie poster (shown below) as an example:
- Give your image a descriptive filename. Instead of naming the image “movieposter.jpg,” “the-hurt-locker-movie-poster.jpg” is much more descriptive. Try to keep the file name relatively short, but include as muc h descriptive text as possible and separate words with hyphens.
- Add an ALT tag to images on web pages and news releases. Alternative text (ALT tags) can be used to describe an image to search engines and visitors that disable images from loading. Visitors that are visually impaired often use screen readers that read ALT tags aloud. The ALT tag can appear more user-friendly with mixed capitalization and spaces, and along the same lines as the first tip above, an appropriate ALT tag is both simple and descriptive, like “The Hurt Locker movie poster.”
- Add a title tag to further explain an image to visitors, or to encourage click-throughs from an image onto a landing page. Title tags are useful because they show up in tool-tips when you hover over an image using your mouse. For example, the title tag “The Hurt Locker is available on Blu-ray and DVD March 22″ shows up when you hover over the movie poster in our example above. Title tags are great for adding additional information and for helping search engines determine extra keywords to consider when ranking images.
As is often the case, you may throw your hands Up in the Air trying to compete amongst millions of other web pages, but find that it’s much easier to dominate image results that sit alongside first page search results on hard-to-win keywords or phrases. The same is true for video (see the image below).
Video is an extremely special case because of the popularity of YouTube. Many people don’t realize this, but YouTube has recently become the second-largest search engine  behind Google, according to ClickZ. This has given rise to a duality in video search. Since engines also include videos in search engine results pages (SERPs), chances are quite good a video uploaded to YouTube will also show up in Google search results. In addition, extra SEO benefits come from the ability to add captions and links that take users back to your site and embed video across thousands of different websites.
Although the early components of social media have been around a while (such as blogs, forums and other user-generated content sites), widespread adoption and understanding have only recently become popular. As of December 2009, Google and Bing introduced real-time search  by indexing and ranking tweets on SERPs. This is, of course, yet another platform or medium that has been included in search results that enable companies to compete for tough-to-win keywords or phrases.
Aside from the obvious benefits social media affords by driving engagement, it also has significant benefits to SEO.
From a historical perspective, early adopters always tend to benefit from a boost in SEO as a result of new content creation and distribution technology. The good news is that it’s not too late to invest time in social media to generate results in SEO, especially as more and more people learn how to leverage social media  platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Paired with a long-term SEO strategy, multimedia and social media can do wonders for improving rankings for generic or long-tail keywords and phrases that are difficult to win by increasing exposure to your content and providing a wealth of back-links and syndication opportunities. If you haven’t tried embedding photos and video into your news releases , or are thinking about experimenting in social media, Marketwire has the tools and expertise to help you succeed.