Search: Get Real About Real-Time SEO
On July 9, one of the hottest stories on the Web was the riots in Oakland after a Los Angeles jury returned a verdict of involuntary manslaughter in the case of a Caucasian police officer who shot an unarmed African American man in January 2009. Searching Google for "Oakland riots" led to a page of blended search results—one could find news stories, videos, blog posts and tweets. That's right, Twitter posts showed up in an automated scroll box about halfway down the Google search engine results page.
Google's not the only engine that's now mixing social media content into the search results page. At press time, Yahoo! and Bing were integrating Facebook and Twitter posts; Google was doing the same, as well as pulling content from MySpace. This integration, called real-time search, is query-based, meaning social media content only displays when what's being searched for hooks into a topic that's trending in the social sphere, says Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a Minnesota-based digital marketing agency.
The news story example from above could be replaced with the BP oil spill, the Toyota recalls or any other topic that captures the nation's attention. So while real-time search can affect brands, says Michael Kahn, senior vice president, client services at Chicago digital marketing agency Performics, it's mainly important to bigger organizations and topics at the present.
That said, no company can afford to turns its back on real-time search, given how quickly the search landscape changes. And in this better-faster world, opportunities do exist for the savvy Davids to steal sales from the slow-moving Goliaths.
What's Driving Real-Time Search
The social media environment is what Kahn calls a "parallel world" to the search environment, and information often travels faster within it. If you're Google, he explains, you don't want that content in a parallel world; you want to bring it into your search results to make your offerings more timely.