In the old days (2008, for instance) if I wanted to know what was going on with, say, real time search, I'd just Google the term. But today, I might check it out on Twitter Search to see who's tweeting on the topic.
Or, if I want to see a little broader view of what's hot on that topic, I could visit Topsy -
Or, if I wanted an even broader look at more online media sites, I could visit Collecta -
Twitter Search, Topsy, and Collecta are all part of the real time search phenomenon - "real time" search engines that return results from various social media databases on what's being said right now about a given topic.
Real time search has all bloggers thinking - and some worrying. Everybody knows that a well optimized blog will dramatically improve a site's search performance on Google. But what if nobody is using Google anymore? What if the herd stampedes to Topsy and Collecta?
Google itself is rapidly adapting its services to a real time search world. For instance, it recently launched its own URL shortening service, which allows bloggers to automatically deliver blog content to social media (Twitter only as of this writing) through Feedburner.
How Important Is Real Time Search for Business Bloggers?
Still, not every searcher is looking for the latest results. Much of the time longevity is more important than recency. For instance - if I'm looking for a compensation consultant, I want someone who's established, with a long track record of outstanding performance, not the consultant who happened to be retweeted five minutes ago. An old fashioned Google search makes more sense than scouring Twitter. If I'm looking for a residential realtor, I'll probably start with Google or "traditional" local search engines and community sites.
The way I see it, real time search is an opportunity for bloggers to bring in a new pool of readers and potential customers. For now, the majority will continue to use traditional search engines. The experimenters, the folks who are swimming in social media - these are the people who bloggers can reach through the real time search tools. And bloggers should reach: these folks tend to be influencers and decision makers.
How Business Bloggers Can Capitalize on Real Time Search
With that in mind, here are a few things business bloggers can do to bring qualified traffic to their sites through real time search engines.
Add topical posts to your editorial calendar. Many business bloggers write about "timeless" topics such as case studies, product/service benefits, etc. Look hard for a newsworthy angle. Does your business tie in with the Super Bowl in some way? Have you done work for a client that's now making headlines?
Report your own news. Your blog and online press releases are ideal platforms to spread the word, yet I believe they are seriously underused for reporting news. When people spot news on a news directory site or on your blog, they're tempted to Tweet it, throw it into a LinkedIn Group discussion, or link to it on their Facebook News Feed.
For topical posts, go frequent and short. Staying visible on the real time search radar takes a sustained effort. So, instead of a single post tied to the Super Bowl, make it a series of 5 short posts.
Get on Twitter, for gosh sakes. I've had tremendous success bringing readers to my own site - and client sites - by tweeting blog post links. By using keywords intelligently, you'll be found for any number of relevant real time searches. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media content databases also have enormous potential for driving traffic, but right now, Twitter is the big dog. If you're not there, you're not anywhere, unless ...
Pay attention to your analytics.Macro trends in search behavior theory are interesting and worth considering, but nothing succeeds like success. See where your referred traffic is coming from, and factor that strongly into your search marketing strategy going forward. To my surprise, some clients are cleaning up on Facebook but can't get any traction on Twitter. Caution: tracking referrals on Google Analytics is tricky because of the rampant use of all the different URL shorteners. I like using HootSuite, a popular web based Twitter interface, because it's internal tracking system does a pretty good job of reporting traffic.
One constant: Relevant and engaging blog content is crucial for success in real time or traditional search. Snappy headlines and clever angles may get you some immediate attention, but that's never enough for sustained prominence on any type of search engine.
Brad Shorr lives in the Chicago area and is president of Word Sell, Inc. helps organizations strengthen their online presence with business blogs,content strategy, and SEO copywriting. From time to time he writes business cartoons.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content and Social Media for Straight North, a Chicago Web development agency. The agency specializes in B2B, with clients in industries such as flame resistant clothing and performance measurement tools.