So an interesting change of events last week with the introduction of Real Time Search. If you are just hearing about this now, I'll steer you somewhere else to get an explanation. My mission here is to help us understand the opportunity this presents to the Corporate Blogging Community.
The quick answer here is that the introduction of Real Time Search is yet another major signal that Social Media is an SEO tool more than anything else. At the end of the day, something we have been saying since we started Compendium is becoming even more true. The 'readers and followers' are always going to be over-shadowed by the 'searchers'. For every 1,000 followers you might have in whatever social network you are using, there are 10's of thousands of people that are out there searching for a solution to a problem that your business probably solves. Search has been moving towards a 'Recency' model ever since Google delivered to us blended results and now it seems we are moving another step further away from PageRank as the primary criteria.
But first a quick history or Real Time Search:
Cris Crum related this story last week: "Google has been working on real-time search for years," as Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb points out. "In the spring of 2006, the story goes, Google launched Google Finance onto the Web and was promptly dismayed to find that the service didn't appear in a Google search for its own name later that day. It was after that, and a few other similar experiences, that Google engineers created an algorithm called QDF, or Query Deserves Freshness. QDF determines when results for a query need to be augmented with the newest content available, in addition to the content with the highest PageRank."
Dave Snyder (also) makes a good point about spam. "Seriously, any new feature that Google rolls out is a playground for SPAM," he says. "My head is spinning thinking of all the cool/evil implications of the service. I am sure lots of people are going to be testing how Google is choosing the results coming in the box. Some people might ask the importance of coming up for a mere moment in that position, but the sheer amount of traffic generated for a trending term can make even a 30 second window profitable."
Google's Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, Marissa Mayer told TechCrunch when asked if she could trust real time results: "Hard to say. We can't simply apply the PageRank algorithm to content shared in real time, but we look at the ecosystem and detect signals we can use to reveal authority, for instance. It's difficult, but there are data points out there that can be used for filtering."
"In any regard, real-time search results in SERPs means you can't ignore social media. The more you engage in social media, the better shot you have at hitting high placement on Google SERPs that display real-time results."
Does real-time search affect my industry?
From Tom C @ SEOMoz Blog: For search terms that have hardly any tweet-volume I've already seen examples where literally one or two tweets can generate a real-time one-box. Sometimes even for the brand name term. That means that more or less any breaking news in your industry will generate some level of real-time results.
So this is an interesting statement: "more or less any breaking news in your industry...."
Is the price of a flat screen Television breaking news?
I'm going to say yes. Here is the thing....in the world of The Long Tail and the idea of targeting hundreds or thousands of keywords....anything can be breaking news to someone.
And this gets us back to Corporate Blogging. Paula Berg (late of Southwest Airlines) said this beautifully when she taught us that; "Blogs are the hub of your social media strategy". Blogs are your number one way to generate the relevant content and organize that content in ways that legitimately target meaningful search traffic. There simply is no better way than empowering as many employees and customers as possible to tell the stories of your products and services...along with the late breaking news...like your TV's are on sale today in Cleveland. The more content and the more blogs leveraging that content, the more you get to solve the problems that searchers are seeking....this is good. If someone is looking for a deal on a TV now (around a million searches a month on cheap TV and it's dirivitives) it makes sense that you..the seller of TV's...would want to and deserve to show up...you are an authority. If you are the most recent authority all the better.
Now add the component of Real Time Search. Blogs by definition are 'recent'. Twitter is even more "recent". Therefore, using sharing tools to leverage your blog content has to become a mandatory tactic in your social media strategy. As Marissa is telling us, PageRank is a lot less relevant search criteria in a real time world.
If you have more content, more recently produced....AND are legitimate...you stand a very strong chance of doing well in this new environment.