Last time I introduced you to the concept of real-time search. In this second installment I look at how you need to adapt your search marketing efforts to take full advantage of this potentially game-changing development. Although it’s early days for real-time search all the signs are that it will become an increasingly important part of how search engines deliver highly relevant and newsworthy information to users. Therefore, the winners will be those online marketers that adapt early.
I’m going to begin by looking at the sources search engines use to populate their real-time search results because naturally that leads to the activities you need to incorporate into your online strategy.
While Bing currently concentrates on Twitter as its primary source of real-time information, Google includes sources such as Google News links, Google Blog Search links, Google Buzz posts, as well as Jaiku, FriendFeed, Identi.ca, MySpace and Facebook fan page updates.
With most, if not all of these sites having a social element to them, the introduction of real time search reinforces the importance of a well-thought out content and social media strategy to complement ‘traditional’ SEO efforts. On this basis, I recommend you consider the following action points, not only to take advantage of real-time search, but also to widen your reach and engage directly with your target audience:
- Set up accounts or profiles across the above websites even if you do not plan on using them quite yet. By doing so, you are at least taking ownership of those accounts under your brand name (before somebody else does!)
- If you are going to use one social network to take advantage of real time search in the short term, choose Twitter and establish a strategy for its use (assuming it is relevant to your target audience)
- Develop a robust content strategy. Success in social media, and therefore real-time search, is dictated by the quality and relevancy of the information you publish whether this is 140 character tweet or a video masterpiece. To help…
- …invest in buzz monitoring software. Not only can you monitor where your brand name is being mentioned online but you can also monitor hot topics to see if they are relevant to your brand or line of business. This in turn will help you shape the content you create and in what format. Getting involved in the most newsworthy conversations makes it more likely you will gain visibility in the search results
- Once you have created relevant content consider the most appropriate channels by which it can be pushed out. For example, press releases are likely to feature in Google News so ensure you create and distribute them using the right tools when appropriate
- Get blogging; consider how you can publish regular blog posts relevant to your business / industry. The steady stream of fresh, newsworthy content, particularly in response to the major changes / events/ developments in your market place will, in time, ensure your target audience favours you as a source of up to date and valuable information. Search engines may well begin to so the same
- Ensure that all of the above is keyword driven. Integrate targeted keywords into your content, utilising hashtags where relevant
The efforts described above will inevitably require additional internal resource. However, the relationship between search, social media and content demands that brands take a more holistic approach to their search engine optimisation efforts. With social media activity having an increasing influence on search engine performance brands cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of social media.
In recent months I’ve introduced you to the latest developments shaping how search engines display their results. What I hope this highlights is that search engines are in a constant state of flux as they seek to provide the most relevant results to their users.
What we must do in instances such as these is to remain clear-headed and focused on making sure that the innovations in question do not catch us out. We must therefore be innovative ourselves. Change can be good as long as you know how to tackle it. With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled for regular updates and advice.