Every business wants high search engine rankings. Why? Because search engines deliver customers who have already self-selected themselves through their searches. A visitor from a search engine is many times more likely to be an actual prospect, a real lead, than someone targeted through demographics. So you optimize your website for Google, right? And Yahoo and Bing? But have you stopped to think of some of the alternative search engines that don’t call themselves “search engines”? Places your target market is searching?

VIDEO

Consider video search at places like YouTube and MetaCafe. Vido search is not for every niche. There are two main types of searches people make on sites like YouTube:

1. Entertainment

2. How-to

So if your business is at all related to entertainment, or if you sell anything that helps people trying to solve a how-to problem…bingo! For instance, if you sell spices, think about how they might be used. Likely as not, you will discover that people search for…How to stuff a turkey, How to make curry, How to make a healthy milkshake, etc. Put together some videos on these topics, load them to YouTube and other video sites, and start promoting them. Of course, make sure your website URL is subtly (but easily to read) posted on the video, title, and in the description.

PICTURES

Flickr is the big image sharing site, but there are others. This is a great way to reach potential customers who might have the question “I wonder what that looks like?” If your product is alittle off the beaten path, make sure you have photos at the top image sharing websites (withyour URL across the bottom of the photo).Perhaps your product is not particularly mysterious, but is used in a situation that someonemight be curious about. If you sell slippers, for instance, they might be searching for “creative slipper ideas”. If you sell seeds, people might be looking for what a hibiscus seed looks like.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook has become a massive website, and has plans to rule the Web…muwahahahah. But seriously, they are challenging Google for web supremacy, and there is no question people are searching there. Twitter is also a popular search spot, as are Digg and StumbleUpon .If you have a social media strategy, it is worth thinking about how to use these tools not just for networking and brand recognition, but also to capture the searches people are making on these websites.

SHOPPING

Don’t overlook eBay. That’s right, even if eBay is not part of your sales strategy, you might want to make it part of your search strategy. Remember that most online product searches end up inan offline sale. Many people search eBay and also review sites like ePinions before heading forthe store or to the official website. If you sell a product that can be sold on eBay, it might be worth your posting it for sale there, if for no other reason so that buyers researching their options do not overlook you. So look beyond Google, Yahoo and Bing. Think about how your product or service might be put to use. Think about what questions people might ask about those usages. Then think aboutwhere they might search for answers. Now you know where you need to be seen…because almost any website can be a search engine if people think they can find an answer there.

This post was written by David Leonhardt, a multilingual SEO consultant in Canada. For morecreative ideas on making the Internet work for you, subscribe to his blog, where he is nowoffering a free SEO white paper for small business.