In a previous column, I wrote about blogging setup and SEO tips for improved rankings and told you about ways to create a solid web presence. I've seen dramatic search engine lifts on blog sites just from regular postings. It's an important strategy to include in all online business today.

Not only can you improve your search engine rankings for keywords and phrases that your potential customers are searching for, but you also get your messages out and create a productive two-way dialogue. Add RSS syndication and an all-willing subscriber base to your blog, and you're building a valuable channel for permission-based marketing as well.

It still amazes me that as I write this, so many businesses I come across aren't aware of the power of universal search. Or that they don't know they can leverage images, news and maps to position their brand and identities using existing or newer search engine technologies.

These Web 2.0 "user controlled, user generated" content systems are being used by younger generations that find it easy to express themselves on sites like YouTube, Piczo, MySpace, Facebook, Blogger and many others. But big corporations, such as Microsoft, also are deeply in tune with the importance of these sites, as evidenced by Microsoft acquiring an equity position in Facebook.

The corporate world is slowly being gripped by this social web, and some corporations like Toyota and GM are pushing CEOs and top level VPs to communicate their thoughts via blog posts, podcasts and video. Furthermore, they understand that it's not about simply selling, but about educating, sharing and creating an independent voice that's less corporate and more consumer friendly.

Why Blog?
With estimates of the blogosphere reaching more than 50 million blogs as tracked by authority sites like Technorati.com, you're losing out if you're ignoring it. Marketing Daily research shows that 8 out of 10 Americans know about blogs, and about half visit them regularly. Businesses can tap into huge markets when creating and building blogs, and the more popular and useful they are, the more you'll keep interested candidates coming back for more. WordPress blogs, for example, are basically search engine friendly, but adding specialized plug-ins for SEO and supporting scripts can create a highly performing platform for users and search engines.

Why Video?
While a blog is a good place to start, another very smart choice for web exposure is video. The beverage company Zima, for example, took an inexpensive video camera and created this viral video, which has received more than 1 million views so far. In the video, they positioned their brand in only a few, strategic places--no sales pitch. And they chose to use humor rather than controversy, which also sells very well on the web. Data indicates that YouTube visitors watch more than 100 million videos per day on the site, with an average of 65,000 new videos uploaded daily. And 70 percent of the site's registered users are Americans.

How to Optimize
Since on-page (content) and off-page (links) factors are very important in SEO, how can you optimize videos and have spiders read the content when no text exists?

Most media sites read meta content, such as your name, categories and URL. However, some sites, such as EveryZing.com, search spoken words--known as "speech to text"--and allow for much better SEO techniques with the content available. They attempt to unlock the data and make it available to the search spiders.

If you want to learn more about optimizing various forms of media, read this Blinkx.com page.

When optimizing video, look at the following:

  • Meta data
  • Tags--similar to social bookmarking, but don't overdo it
  • Titles--use keyword research to find the best titles for users and search engines
  • Filenames/URLs--use keywords in categories, directories and filenames
  • Sitemaps--on your site
  • Media RSS

The Seth Godin Web 2.0 Traffic Watcher lists YouTube as the No. 1 Web 2.0 site in terms of traffic. So once you've established your content and marketing strategy, create a YouTube channel for your business.

Also check these providers for the latest in video media:

  • Brightcove.com
  • Google Video
  • MSN Video
  • PureVideo.com
  • Metacafe.com
  • AOL Video
  • Apple Live TV

While I'm focusing on blogs and videos in this column, don't forget about images and optimizing for sites like Flickr.com, which I will cover in a future column.

The information universe is vast, so it may be difficult to decide where to start. Begin with a blog and test the other mediums as you go, capturing traffic and user behavior through analytics packages like the free Google Analytics. It will be well worth the effort.