8 Ways Real-Time Search Can Boost Your SEO Rankings
Jokes about former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fall from grace just may be the perfect vehicle for improving search engine rankings in real time. That's true, at least, for the host of NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." So says Connie Bensen, director of social media and community strategy at UK-based marketing software company Alterian.
In a video posted on May 26 called "#latenight hashtags," Fallon tossed a few jabs at the disgraced politician along with those from viewers who tweeted various thoughts relating to the #IWentThere theme that Fallon had suggested they use on Twitter.
That's a smart search engine marketing tactic, Bensen says, because it does improve rankings—especially in this age of real-time search results that include social media updates. "The search engine marketing industry changed forever when real-time search was added," she says. "It forced all marketers to use social channels."
Search engines may even be using tweets and other social media updates as the top criteria to determine organic rankings for content, according to research highlighted in the May 26 post on SEOmoz.org, "The Tweet Effect: How Twitter Affects Rankings." The research finds that initial look may also factor in how many followers the tweeter has, with more being better.
How can marketers capitalize on that knowledge? Bensen; Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Boston-based search engine marketing services firm Skyword; and Gary Ware, director of paid media services at San Diego, Calif.-based search marketing firm Covario; offered these tips on getting the most from real-time search results.
1. Check their rankings in Google Realtime Search to see how well they're doing in this aspect of SEO. Bensen advises: "Search for terms that are related to your company. It could be your company name, or to be more specific, search for your company name and a product or service that you offer. If people are talking about your company, real-time search results will appear at the top of the first page of your search results."
2. Bid on fragmented keywords. Ware says: "With Google Instant, Google considers [it] an impression when a user pauses for more than three seconds. Knowing that, we have seen success with bidding on fragmented keywords. (i.e., "laptop sol" for laptop solutions). This has allowed us to decrease CPCs in competitive landscapes. To be successful with this, advertisers need to review their search query reports to see if there are high-volume fragmented keywords."
3. "Optimize tweets with keywords," Bensen says. For instance, marketers who want to tweet a link can "identify popular search terms for your business—your keywords—and create three to five tweets using a different keyword in each with the same link at the end of each."
4. Use hashtags and remember that, within Twitter, they work like links. Bensen says: "Create your own hashtag to build thought leadership. [And/or] use a hashtag that is used by many to get your tweets intermixed with those of others using the same hashtag."
5. Promote tweets and use other paid social options. Ware says: "Our clients are utilizing paid advertising opportunities on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. to educate and engage their audience[s]. For some niche topics or emerging countries, we have seen lower CPCs and higher traffic than running on search. Our client, Intel, has been successful with the integration of their search and paid social programs. They would use social as a channel to bring people into the funnel, and search would be the channel to close the process."
6. Use retargeting to show up in relevant, real-time results. Ware says: "Due to the long sale[s] cycle that most B-to-B marketers face, retargeting is a tactic that is helpful in keeping the marketer top of mind as the user is conducting research. … We have a client in the solar industry [whose] … campaigns are targeted towards users who have started the process of having an agent contact them, but didn't convert. Through retargeting, they were able to drive higher lead volume while still maintaining a good CPL."
7. Provide good content. Gerace says: "Understand the consumers' needs by discovering what they're searching for in your category of focus (e.g. beauty, parenting, technology, etc.). … [Then] create original, quality content that matches these searches. Quality is key for long-term stability in the search engines." Also, he says, keep track of the search terms readers used to find the content and what referral sources they used in order to optimize future content.
8. Join the conversation and provide useful information, Bensen says. Track conversations about the company—tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck (now part of Twitter) may work well for this task—and get involved. "Browse informational sites such as Yahoo! Answers, Yelp, TravelAdvisor, etc., depending on your industry. Answer questions that are relevant—this requires expertise and should not include spamming or pushing of your product."
Tracking brand sentiment in real time can also aid in "right time" marketing, according to white paper "The Right-Time Email Marketing Playbook," released in May by Redwood City, Calif.-based StrongMail Systems, a provider of online marketing solutions for email and social media: "Right-time marketing requires that a brand track topics and trends in real time, nd that it be the first to inform and engage audiences around topics as they build groundswell within the community."