9 December 2009

Google Real Time Search: Don’t Be Anti-Social


The latest skirmish in the escalating search engine space race has seen Google follow in Bing’s footsteps by retrieving real-time content from social networks (including Twitter, Myspace and Facebook), blog posts and news feeds, and surfacing all this in Google searches. Most users can currently see these feeds in the middle of the page, amidst organic retrievals. This really contributes to the sense that the real-time web is becoming increasingly and unavoidably built in to the wider online experience.

From Storm ID’s perspective, we can help our clients develop appropriate responses to embrace this shift, while acknowledging that, essentially, the rules of the game remain the same. While it’s important to engage in social media channels to contribute to your communications output, content that follows our recommendations in terms of keyword density, URL, and meta-data, will still index web-pages consistently and impressively. The core tenets of good SEO for websites have not changed; the changes we are embracing extend beyond the website to how we support our clients in syndicating their content to other channels, especially those with real-time updates. Credibility of the source, as well as quality, location and timing will be key.

Fortunately we’re able to say we’re ahead of the game. We often have clients asking how they can have invigorate their presence on microblogging platforms without increasing overheads and dedicating more staff and time. Our solution has been to build social media feeds into your Content Management System, ensuring that their website content, and user-generated forum and comments content, is automatically posted to social networking accounts. These tools will help our clients coordinate these multiple channels: they can dictate their own careful balance beteen automation – to save time – and manual control – to sculpt the message effectively.

How the real-time feeds will evolve is uncertain, and their positional dominance and density on search pages could well change in the long-term. However, they have already taken steps to ensure that their championing of relevant, authoritative content is not undermined. Amit Singhal of Google stressed that search giant has plenty of new technology in place to filter out lightweight or spam content – clearly that filtering process is actually taking a bit of time as tweets are lagging a couple of minutes behind their ‘live’ output.

Spam is a problem on all of these networks. We tend to use ‘followers’, ‘friends’ or ‘groups’ to protect ourselves from this, but Google will need to do the same on our behalf and can leverage a whoe manner of measures of clout/credibility when deciding to surface these results. Timing is a factor and so is content, but Google effectively needs to invent a concept of rank to apply to these new sources of content.

To distinguish good real-time content, live search will alrgely be connected to the Google Trends feature, which identifies spikes in web search traffic. We should see an increasing resemblance here to Twitter’s popular Trending Topics section, as users turn to Google to search for breaking stories and news.

Undoubtedly it’s an exciting and changing time in web culture, but try not to lose sight of the basic elements of SEO, which ultimately remain the best way of reaching the holy grail of organic first page indexing

Google’s remit is to organise the world’s information. This week, that world just got a bit bigger and quicker.





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