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Real Time Search & Social Media: Time Waits For No Man

by James Ball on December 9, 2009

Go ahead; just watch it for a bit…think about what it all means. Think about the dissemination of information too, it’s what we are after, isn’t it? We want to scatter our own information, links, and logos in order to provide breadcrumb trails back to ourselves. The graphic tells us two things. One is that it’s working! The other is that we are not alone; countless others are doing it too.  Throw in mobile devices, news updates, press releases, websites, and all the rest, and I imagine that the eye couldn’t follow.

I’m not writing today just to show you a nifty gadget, though it is pretty cool. No, I’ve got the soapbox out again and I want to help you wrap your mind around something here. I brought in the social media counter because that’s what we’re all interested in. We’re in business, and we’re all trying to leverage social media to promote and grow our own businesses. I’ve said that we don’t have a choice, and that we have to be involved in the social web to stay competitive. In that same article, I mentioned that real-time search was just around the corner.  In a move on Monday, Google rounded that corner.

I’d very much like to join you in a rousing chorus of “SO WHAT?” but I can’t. For those of us with businesses and websites that rely on the Internet, and more specifically the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) for a large chunk of our traffic and revenue, this is a BIG RED FLAG. As real-time search evolves and propagates across the web, we need to be watchful. We can’t afford not to have a finger on the pulse here. There will be no playing catch-up with real-time search.

Search engine results pages pull from all sorts of meta, traffic, and link information to decide who gets to be where in line and on what page. Many of us have spent quite a bit of time and money toward this end. Get used to the idea that first page results will soon include relevant and moving results in real-time. Real-time results will be populated with information gathered based solely on the inclusion of a particular word or two. This information will be pulled from places like Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites and platforms. These are all places where much less thought has been put towards search engine optimization (SEO).

Keep your eyes on the real-time search topic, seek it out. It’s more than just another prediction for 2010, it’s happening now. Let’s be mindful of our tweets and assorted updates, keywords there are now more important than ever. I’m thinking that more attention needs to be placed on where we update, how often we do so, and the words that we string together. It’s also probably a good time to go in and check how well our breadcrumb trail is linked together. Consider all of the places and the ways that searchers might first encounter us, and let’s make sure that the path that leads is clear and direct.

Allow this to affect your letter to Santa as well. If you’re not already using a smart-phone to navigate the web/social media/email/Etc., now would be a great time to take that leap. This is all moving directly into the palm of your hand, and this too will be sooner rather than later.

***UPDATED 12/10/09

After posting this article yesterday, I found some very interesting articles that relate to this topic. In the interest of making this post as informative as it can be, here are links to some of the most thought provoking articles that I found:

And More From Today (I guess I’ll just keep adding as I find them!):

Is this all moving way too fast for you? Are you prepared to do more, and do it faster? I want to know how you see this impacting your business. If you have a plan, I’d sure like to hear it, leave me a comment!

Note: The counter is not real time, but as close as Gary could get using his sources.

Carol Flammer December 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

James – the social web, smart phones and technology will continue to shape our lives, how we interact with others and how we buy. Search is huge today and companies need to focus on having the right keyword strategy which in some cases means getting into the buyers mind to "think like a search engine." Rather, to think how they search. . .

James Ball December 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

It's a pleasure to have you comment today Carol! Search is paramount, and we all need to think as you say, pondering how search will pick us up and how buyer's think as they search. Real-time is where search is headed, and I’m glad this topic is getting proper attention. Social media and now real-time search require a shift in how we strive to dispense information. I’m still playing with Google…trying to find for myself the right way to behave in real-time. I hope everybody else takes some time to do the same!

@HowieBruce December 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I feel that technology portability and social media is DRAMATICALLY leveling the playing field for businesses. Small and micro businesses can market and communicate in virtually the same way as large businesses. And, as always, small businesses can update, adjust and adapt much more quickly to their feedback, IF they are willing to.

I hear stats like iPhone being the number one platform for updating flickr and also hear that iPhone is the one of the top access points for the internet in general. (I'm too lazy to look up the specifics right now.) People (Consumers) are taking their search capabilities on the road with them and enjoy discovering the Mom and Pop businesses.

@ShellyKramer December 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I love the counter, James! No matter how many times I see it, I remain mesmerized by it every additional time I look. Terrific article – totally on target and I'm thrilled to be included as a source. Such exciting times …. can't say it often enough! Thanks for sharing.

@Brandon101 December 10, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Great points here James. This also underscores the importance of staying on top of what's happening in the digital/social space and also keeping a watchful eye toward the near future. Due to the rapid pace of chance, I think for the most part, around 3 months out is about right for looking at what's coming. When you get beyond that, it gets really hypothetical and so much can change to alter those predictions that fixating on a year out is perhaps futile. Organizations must be able to remain nimble and capitalize on engagement opportunities as they are available without getting stuck in preparing for what 'might' happen. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to pay attention to these shifts!

@Mandy_Vavrinak December 14, 2009 at 4:41 am

Love how you point out that tweets and Facebook posts, not always bastions of keyword optimization, will now count. Companies (and those with personal brands to protect/promote) will need to be more focused on what they say, how they say it, and where they say it. The integration of marketing, PR and customer service will become more important than ever as relevance begins to drive search (real relevance, not algorithm artificial relevance).

James Ball December 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Mandy, I loved your article yesterday on this topic! When you said "real relevance" just now, you said a mouthful! I'm still very excited to see how this impacts us all, and how companies may utilize all of this. Thank you for dropping in and leaving me a comment. I appreciate it!

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