Social is Only Going to Become More Important to Search

That's Why Real-Time Search Isn't Just a Buzzword

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Are you ready for the future of search marketing? It’s going to creep up on you if you are not. In fact, it’s already creeping. How long have you spent worrying about keywords? Is that all you worry about? Hopefully not, because there’s a lot more to successful online marketing than that, even search marketing.

This is the basic plot of a keynote speech delivered by Charlene Li, co-author of the book Groundswell, and Founder of Altimeter Group, at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose.

Charlene Li

The big picture is largely about social media and interaction. This is nothing new right? You’ve had social media marketing talk rammed down your throat for a while now, but that’s separate from search engine marketing right? Well, yes and no. Social media may play a bigger role in search engine rankings that you realize, and that could even become truer in the future, and probably will.

Here’s the thing. Searchers want relevant results. It’s all about relevancy. That’s all the search engines strive for, and that’s what users want. As Li says, "There is a new type of relevance called engagement." People must be at the center of your search strategy. Not keywords.

There’s a reason that real-time search is such a hot topic. Some think it’s just a buzzword, but it’s more than that. It’s an ever-growing element into what people want to know.

Now we’re not talking about real-time search taking over traditional search. Right now is not always more relevant than something from three years ago. In many cases, it is more relevant though. User intent might be considered the holy grail.

There’s a reason Google is working toward updating its algorithm to incorporate a faster indexing speed. People want freshness. That’s why Twitter has become such a hot source of buzz that seemingly all radio and television programs cling to these days. It’s up to the minute info about what people are saying.

Facebook is doing it now too, and Li mentioned the importance of this in her keynote as well. One very important thing to keep in mind is that outside search engines aren’t indexing the information that can be found in Facebook updates. Facebook is huge now, by the way – way bigger than Twitter. We’re talking up there in Googleland in terms of users.

Social is an important element of search. We still have to look at it as a thing of the future though, because we are still so early in the evolution of the social web. The major search engines are still trying to make sense of it all. Li noted that the real time web presents many challenges to search engines, because how do you place value on things like retweets, @replies, short URLs, etc? There are a lot of new elements to consider.

Now think about search engine advertising. Li asked, "What if search engines augmented my search ads based on knowing who I am?" Think about data like influence, and number of friends. The number of influential friends could influence search results and search engine ad targeting.

The web has largely become a very social environment, and will continue to become even more so. This is why marketers should focus on people rather than keywords. If you want an example of how this plays directly into Google results already, Li mentioned how the YouTube video called " United Breaks Guitars " ranks number 4 in Google when you search for "united". United doesn’t own that keyword anymore, because people have lifted this video up.

Charlene Li

The synopsis of Li’s book reads, "Right now, your customers are writing about you products on blogs and recutting you commercials on YouTube. They’re defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you on social networking sites like Facebook. These are the elements of a social phenomenon."

Well, it’s the truth. You’ve got to engage out there. There are watchers, sharers, commenters, content producers, and curators. Focus on the sharers and the watchers. Focus on people and relationships, and listen to customers. 

Li says you should also get you back end data in order. By this, she means having a single place where people can sign in to your site, and integrate off-site behavior and data. Figure out the value of specific visitors. Integrating social into your site is a good way to do this.

"Prepare to tap into ‘chain of intent,’" she says. "Google now combines chains of searches to determine intent." (Emphasis added.)

Know that customers can take their social networks anywhere with them at this point. Thanks to all kinds of tools from the networks themselves, as well as browser plug-ins, etc. people always have their social functions a click away. You’re going to have to accept this and realize that you have less control over your brand than ever. That’s why you need to deepen relationships and get engaged. It’s even important than ever for search.

Social is Only Going to Become More Important to Search
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  • http://ww.lexolutionit.com Maneet Puri

    As of now web users have access to both traditional search (through the regular search engines) and real-time search (thru Twitter etc.). I dont see how an overlap between the two is possible because while one user may prefer freshness other might be searching for relevance. Nonetheless, real-time search is definitely more relevant than what was in the past and businesses are just coming to realize its power.

    However, one problem with real-time search is… Because it is user generated after all, how can one place credibility to the information?

  • http://spidermarket.wordpress.com/services Seattle SEO Services

    Real time search is useful in knowing what the conversation is, this is important for google. Google is interested in the conversation rec ency, does this mean the conversation is valid? Depends on the content. You can verify the historical events and compare to solidify its significances.
    An example would be right now in the home improvement industry.

  • http://www.tag44.com Tag44

    Nice post, really very resourceful information written over here. Thanks webmaster for sharing such useful resource.

  • http://www.the-system.org The system

    Search is just about tools and their use. Google has a use, so does twitter and facebook et al.
    For product searches nothing has changed!

  • http://www.bikeshopcastlehill.com.au Home Solar Power Systems

    I think both real time and regular search engine are equally good. Moreover the credibility depends on the user. Some may use the real time search engine and some use the regular search engine. So, it completely depends on the user

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