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Google has started rolling out real time search, which has lots of potential implications for brand reputation and SEO, as well as paid search.

I've been asking some of the UK's search and social media experts for their opinions on how Google's real time search will affect brands and SEO...

What will the major effects of Real Time search be?

For brands...

Andrew Heaps, Head of SEO at Latitude:

For me it puts the emphasis right back on brands, just as Eric Schmidt said would be the case 12+ months ago. With the inclusion of live Twitter (et al) streams in the natural SERPs, social media, and in particular brand reputation has never been so important. Those brands that dismiss the need to monitor their online sentiment or are just not well equipped to do so will suffer.

Ciaran Norris, Head of Social Media at Mindshare:

In terms of what it does for brands, it makes constant monitoring for potential reputation issues more important than ever. If I slag off a brand, and that starts showing at number one on Google, that's something a brand needs to know about and be prepared to respond to.

Henry Ellis, Head of Social Media at Tamar: 

This move really does cement Social Media at the centre of search. Before now, people would use Twitter, for example, to do their ‘emotional research’ and trust Google to deliver the factual side, the best deals, information and so on.

Now, Google is more fully addressing those emotional needs, and brands are going to have to get serious about social media very quickly. If somebody does a branded search for a product and finds less-than-favourable messages from Twitter or a blog, this will have an effect on their purchase choices.

Dave Wilding, Senior SEO Analyst at Epiphany:

With the proliferation of mobile internet, consumers will no longer wait to get home to rave, or complain, about the new restaurant they just visited, they'll do it straight away, and these reviews will instantly appear within search results.

I predict a number of big brands will experience brand protection issues during 2010; and these issues will break out of Twitter into everyone's browser. Results are not only going to appear for 'Big Brand Name & Product Fault', but for 'Big Brand' by itself. Consumers who are just Googling for a brand are soon going to know all about the current hot issue for that company.

On PPC...

Andrew Girdwood, Head of Search at Bigmouthmedia:

Bid management faces a challenge. A search landscape that changes in real time will be tricky for systems that check the search landscape only a few times a day. The positions of the PPC ads may not update in real time but the commentary around them will – a real time stream could spend the first half of the morning on positive messages around a generic keyword which would result in increased PPC click throughs only then to spend the rest of the day on a negative message which would decrease PPC click throughs. The very same real time stream could vanish entirely the next day.

As popular conversation subjects are more likely to feature in the real time integration, brands will find that top level generics and brand terms may start to behave differently in PPC campaigns.

Dave Wilding:

When Google's Real Time search appears at the top of the page it takes up a significant amount of space above the fold, and the fact it continually scrolls certainly draws your eye to it. Will this have a detrimental effect on PPC click through rates? Perhaps, though given this is Googles primary source of income I'm sure this has been thought through so not to detrimentally effect this revenue stream.

For SEO techniques...

Ciaran Norris:

The most immediate thing to consider regarding the impact on SEO is that it's yet more links, pushing the traditional '10 blue links' further down the page. When you add it to videos, images, news, maps, etc... we could find that the first 'proper' links are some way below the fold.

And the final thing to consider for SEOs is that, if Google is showing this data, it must have worked out some way to filter and rank it. And whilst Twitter links are nearly (if not entirely) nofollowed, this means that it's very likely that they could start to have some impact on the ranking of the normal SERPs.

Henry Ellis:

What Google’s move means is that there's going to be a whole heap of ‘screen real-estate’ that will be much less controllable with traditional SEO methods, although of course new ones will be developed. It's no longer going to be enough for companies to simply optimise their websites and presences. They have got to be completely on top of what people are saying about them.

Andrew Heaps:

The basics of SEO are still required, and probably will be as long as search engines exist. The line between SEO and social media has just blurred even more, and the ability to help ensure a positive brand reputation will need to be in the SEO toolbox.

It will be interesting to see whether sentiment is ever factored into the ranking algorithm –a brand SERP full of negative tweets is going to impact CTR and if, as we believe to be the case, CTR is factored into the ranking algorithm it may end up having a broader impact on rankings.
 
And a final thought to ponder: will retweets become the new links?

Andrew Girdwood:

Google appears to be filtering the real time streams on some relevancy and authority metrics. This is a positive thing as it’ll reduce the chance of spam links appearing in dominant positions. It also means that brands will have to work hard and build a genuine following in their social efforts in order to pass these Google quality checks. 
 
The real time streams offer brands,  almost anyone in fact, the chance to rank well for a competitive keyword even if that ranking is highly transitory. This means that sites with really good content have a better chance to showcase that content to the world. It also means sites can lose their top search position, albeit briefly, just when traffic for that keyphrase would be at its highest.

Graham Charlton

Published 9 December, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (22)

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Martin Cozens, Banc Media

We have become accustomed over the past few years to seeing ‘creep’ from Google’s other vertical channels like Images, Maps, News, Shopping etc providing us with a richer more relevant search experience, as Google would proudly tell us.

It is certainly intriguing and it will be interesting to see how much screen real estate Google allows for Real Time Search.  What’s more, companies will naturally be nervous to know how their organisations will be effected by Brand ‘chatter’ from social networks.

I predict an increase in interest of ‘online brand protection’ specialists as negative ‘private’ commentary from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace filters into the ‘public’, transparent world of a Web result page.

over 6 years ago

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Magnus Nilsson

Agree with most of the above. It's clear that the search space will become more volatile, and I think key in managing this change will be to increasingly work across all channels/touchpoints to better predict/understand/manage changes and how brands are being communicated.

over 6 years ago

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Darren Davidson

Time for the social media wallflowers to come in from the cold. Small + medium sized businesses without a social media presence may now need to start thinking about having one. Being first in traditional Google web results is now less important.

over 6 years ago

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Greg Bogdan

Great post guys. With this move, Google has entered the social media space in a HUGE way. With the Google Guerrilla in the room a lot more people are going to pay attention and join in on the conversation. Huge implications. Those not on twitter don't need an account to tap into the "stream". Many brands must now consider entering social media and post content more frequently to keep themselves in front of customers.

over 6 years ago

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Charles Knight

I mentioned this on another blog but my big question with this, as a user, is not "what are people saying on twitter about subject x" but "how do I fliter twitter out", I followed the real time results for a number of searchs and the twitter aspect is like an open sewer pipe - Who wants their brand popping up next to a result that says "I bet tiger likes to do them up the a**" and the like?

It creates a largely negative view of twitter and what it can be used for and reinforces the idea that it's for people with too much time on their hands to publish whatever inanity comes to mind.

over 6 years ago

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Darigan

Hi,

Does anybody know how google determines which search terms will return a SERP with real-time results, and can webmasters/SEO-ers manipulate this?

A search for a clearly news-worthy term/s such as "Copenhagen" or "Gordon Brown" returns a SERP with instant updates, but searches for terms that may not seems as obviously newsworthy do not return the instant update results.

over 6 years ago

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Magnus Nilsson

Darigan, currently I think only items that showing as hot topics or searches on google.com/trends have real-time data added to them.

over 6 years ago

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Chris

Real time search seems to be the hottest topic around now. Also Charles Knight that is a good point about filters, Google needs to make sure that people can filter the real time search results.

over 6 years ago

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Merinda Peppard, Efficient Frontier

With less inventory available for SEO now due to the eye catching real-time results on the SERPs, paid search will become even more important. Search results pages are evolving and becoming more “multi media” to coin the phrase from David Pann of Yahoo! We are now seeing the importance of social media on people's buying decisions and brands need will need to adapt quickly to the change of pace. Although as Efficient Frontier’s VP said in our recent blog post (see link) we should never lose focus on delivering the fundamentals, despite all the shiny new objects.

over 6 years ago

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maps4pets

Agree with Efficient Frontier. This is a very interesting development. Taking Social Media and its importance to a new level, intergration of live/real-time search and the gradual dove-tailing of all media streams.

over 6 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

I can see some wonderful crash and burns, think about how careful agencies now have to be with social media. Thinking about a pitch for a new client careful what you say positives about their competitors...

Another point is litigation and defamation is now much easier when you are on the frontpage of search results....

But this a boom for spammers, and companies wanting to ruin your brands online reputation!

over 6 years ago

Mike Berry

Mike Berry, Head of Marketing at Pure Collection

The increased importance, or increased potential importance, of Twitter is particularly worrying for brands focused on target markets with a low uptake of the service.

Brands targeting social media laggards, such as older females, will be placed at an instant disadvantage on more generic searches.

over 6 years ago

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SEO Consultant

One has to ask, though, how real-time is real time? Let's not ask them at the stock exchange, where micro-seconds can make the difference between winning or losing a transaction. Or Einstein, who'll remind us of the relativity of time. Then there's the already well-documented phenomenon of search results rolling out across the world in Google's data centres, different results appearing at different times as they're rolled out. Real-time for me in the UK won't be the same as real-time in, say, Australia - so why calll it real time in the first place?

BB

over 6 years ago

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Irving

I saw this comment on Matt Cutts blog:

"Q: Ryan Singel: You mentioned getting people off of Google quickly. Other companies (Yahoo/MSFT) seem to want to create pages based on the information and keep people on-site.
A: Marissa: The web thrives on openness and we want to encourage that. The exception might be entities where you want to tell people about that entity. But we want the web to prosper."

It would definitely seem like Google wants to keep people in its network longer and be able to earn more advertising revenue. Think of the new place pages, living pages and now real time search with Twitter tweets. Caffeine is condensing the Google index by billions of pages. This strategy seems pretty clear to me. Love to hear what other people think about this.

over 6 years ago

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Shyam Kapur

This article and the comments are some of the best I have come across so far on this topic. I agree that Google made a bold move which could well backfire. A better way to tame real-time search is something like what I have put together at TipTop http://FeelTipTop.com Give it a spin sometime & let me know what you think.

over 6 years ago

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Robert Mendez

B2C marketers will no doubt dominate the revenue side of all SEO for the foreseeable future, but for us B2B marketers, it's more about getting content - very flat, very dry content - indexed for archiving. I'm not sure how 'real time' data will move the needle for us?

over 6 years ago

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Marco.A.

I like this feature and I doubt it will affect SEO how some people said when they first heard this news. For me is just another great feature from Google.

over 6 years ago

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Aviatech Stu

I work at an advertising agency and we are very excited for this new development.  Now, social media has become more important than ever, and it is a service that we have been building and are ready to handle for various clients.  http://blog.aviatech.com/?p=56 Here's our blog about it.

over 6 years ago

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chandan

Google reall time search is really some hot news. I think it is some bad news for blogger like us. Google will now prefer on twitter, facebook results for showing on their search results, for which our rank will decrease on search results.

over 6 years ago

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ORCA Franchise

I have been experimenting with the Twitter search results on Google for the last few days. Search for something like ‘Rage Against The Machine’ and Brittany Murphy’ and you will see the latest tweets. This was useful for me because I wanted to find out whether RATM had beaten the X-Factor song to number 1 in the UK and it delivered the answer within seconds. At the same time, however, no other web pages in the Google search results had been updated with the news – Result, I found what I was looking for through real-time search! Can’t see it having much utility other than social news though, but from what I can tell, thats the only time its being implemented. Anthony

over 6 years ago

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منتديات

B2C marketers will no doubt dominate the revenue side of all SEO for the foreseeable future, but for us B2B marketers, it's more about getting content - very flat, very dry content - indexed for archiving. I'm not sure how 'real time' data will move the needle for us?

almost 6 years ago

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اعلانات مبوبه

Google reall time search is really some hot news. I think it is some bad news for blogger like us. Google will now prefer on twitter, facebook results for showing on their search results, for which our rank will decrease on search results.

almost 6 years ago

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