Real-Time Search 101

Twitter has opened the door to the concept of real-time search. The ability to listen to an online conversation right now and hear what’s being said has brought a whole new dimension to search marketing. Let’s explore what real-time search is, how it’s being used in search engines, and how you can integrate real-time search into your marketing campaigns.

What Is Real-Time Search?

We’re all used to going to a search engine, typing in a keyword phrase, and getting a list of results. In the past, those results only showed what the search engines have collected and stored in their databases. That information can be a day or two old, or several years old.

What if you want to see what’s happened in the past five minutes? Maybe you’re interested in the latest news on the China earthquake or you’re waiting for your iPad to be delivered and need the latest news to fill the void.

Real-time search benefits those who read or write content within a short time span. Headline news, natural calamities and rescue efforts, and current events and shows are all examples where real-time search is used. Basically, your content goes hot for a small period of time before it goes cold.

For search engines, it means doing super fast indexing of sites like Twitter. This allows you to find information while it’s still relevant. To further help you understand real-time search, watch this video produced by Google.

Google Launches Real-Time Search

Back in December, Google launched the real-time search feature that now appears on its search results page. A search for the latest news on “iPad” tells me that the iPad will be useful for my two dogs. Also, there are links to articles and tweets ranging from five minutes to 50 minutes ago.

Since this launched in December, Google has gone beyond Twitter for real-time search results, adding content from Facebook, MySpace, and Google Buzz to bring you real-time news.

The other major search engines, Yahoo and Bing, also provide real-time search features.

Make no mistake; we’ll see more features and updates to search engines in the future.

Google Replay Feature

Google’s new tweet replay search feature for real-time search gives you the ability to go back in time and catch up on what people were tweeting about within a specific time range (e.g., if you want to go back and see what people were saying about the iPad before it started shipping). Google explained that there is a constant online conversation about breaking news, people, and places. With this new feature, you can zoom to any part of that conversation and see what people were tweeting about.

Other Tools for Real-Time Search

Several tools are available to help you take advantage of real-time search. Twitter Search has been around for a long time. Other tools that have emerged since and let you see what others are tweeting about are TweetGrid, Scoopler, Collecta, and CrowdEye, just to name a few.

Facebook also has a real-time search feature similar to Twitter’s. Facebook recently bought FriendFeed, which already has a good real-time search feature that searches content across many social sites.

What Does Real-Time Search Mean for Marketers?

While real-time search is growing, it’s still in its infancy. With the major search engines on board, it’s just a matter of time before it grows in adoption. Keep your eye on opportunities to leverage real-time search for use in your branding efforts.

In addition to advertisers, it’s also important to consumers. Marketers will need to adjust their approach to reaching out to consumers. With real-time search, you now have a tool to “listen” in to what consumers are saying about your brand or product. With real-time information, you can now react quicker and be more responsive.

Tips for Optimizing for Real-Time Search

Real-time search means you need to integrate new practices into your SEO (define) efforts and optimize accordingly. So, what can you do to enhance your optimization efforts to get the rankings you’re looking for with real-time search? Here are some tips that you should consider:

  • Monitor hot topics: Stay on top of hot topics and be prepared to react to those topics. Create content that is frequently updated that speaks to these topics and trends.
  • Add keyword support: Make sure you integrate your targeted keywords into your tweets and updates and utilize hashtags. This will help support your own SEO and PPC (define) campaigns and strengthen your relevancy for those keywords.
  • Coordinate promotion activities: Planning is important so you can time when to update your Facebook Page or send out tweets. Try to do this shortly after relevant articles and blog posts are indexed in by search engines.
  • Develop relevant content: Make sure you have content that supports real-time SEO. Coordinate all of your content for your Web pages, blogs, press releases, tweets, and fan pages to work together.

Real-time search presents a great opportunity for those who know about it and can find creative ways to integrate it into their marketing mix. This area will continue to grow, so look out for more features, methods, sites, and tools for leveraging real-time search. Please feel free to share any tips or beneficial tools you’ve found in the comments section.

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