Handling SEO Concerns About Real-Time Search

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Marketers are concerned about the influence real-time Web results will have on their respective company's query ranking in the top half of organic search results. They believe that real-time feeds from Twitter, Facebook and others could push company listings below the fold.

They voiced these concerns in casual conversations with me during the opening day of the Search Insider Summit in Captiva Island, Fla. So I asked experts for help with this issue.

Nectarios Economakis, director of search marketing at Media Experts, a traditional and digital agency, has begun to see more search engines experimenting with different ad formats because it's in their best financial interest to have more real estate on the page.

"One sneaky little thing that Google did was move sponsored listing on the right a little to the left," which puts the paid search ads more in the line of sight, he says. "It just confirms that companies need to be on page one in organic listings, because if you're not, you simply don't exist."

Reliable-SEO Founder David Harry says real-time search hasn't been shown to be overly effective. Queries return much less RTS-related information. Marketers should look more into universal elements -- Google news, video etc. -- rather than the RTS ones. "Many of these only show up in certain high level query spaces, which means there are plenty of opportunities to improve on mid-range and long-tail queries," he says. "We still need to be mindful of how the search results pages evolve. But are [marketers] taking the [real-time] 'buzz' too seriously? Probably."

Harry says it's not as easy to control RTS results. The percentage of real estate remains small. He believes the real estate at the top of the query will remain with the media relations and social sites.

The HuoMah forum ran a survey in December to ask search engine optimization (SEO) community members how Google's real-time search will influence SEO. Although it was a small sampling, 37.1% felt it would have limited impact due to query types. Twenty nine percent felt Google "opened a can of spam," followed by 19.4% who believed it was a "game changer."

"If you create a company Twitter account, it will rank, along with retweets and conversation," says Andy Beard, SEO professional. "I just searched for IKEA in the U.S., U.K. and Poland and there are no real-time search results."

The search query returned press releases, news results, blog posts, etc., but no Twitter tweets, Beard. says. He points me to IKEA's Twitter handle, which looks as if the company has it parked and reserved.

"If you invite social media into your house, make sure anything you don't want people to find is well hidden, and maybe hire some bouncers so your house doesn't get destroyed," Beard says.

You would have thought IKEA's $1 billion investment in a new Russian store would have prompted some chatter on Twitter, but it didn't, Beard adds. The U.S. has two stories about a gift card scam, and one for news. Beard, who live in Poland, tells me his native country doesn't return any news but gives him a nice map to his nearest IKEA store, about 70 miles away.

3 comments about "Handling SEO Concerns About Real-Time Search ".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, April 16, 2010 at 4:47 p.m.

    Lucky for the companies that are worried, real time search in my opinion has very little value over all. I agree with the consensus you mention from the survey.

    I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out where it adds value and only found a few situations like hot news like a disaster, something urgent in my neighborhood or political uprising, where the value of real time is better than traditional search. If I am looking for a product or a business or just information, there could be detours, but that is about it.

    I use an analogy when discussing the concept of an all knowing God. If there is a God who is all powerful and all knowing, how vane are we to think he/she really cares what we are all doing at this exact point in time. If you were God is that what you would be paying attention too? 'John is pouring milk', 'Sandy just called Becky', 'Abe is study for Spanish class'. So yes maybe some people on occasion for giggles will want to check in, but the value is it there? What do I need that is update more than 10 mins ago?

  2. Ray Manna from doremus, April 18, 2010 at 8:09 a.m.

    I think Howie G is right on, and said it all except for one paramount other use. What if you want to follow the rants and raves of American Idol fans during elimination rounds? What fun would that be without RTS?

  3. Laura Betterly from Yada Yada Marketing, Inc., April 18, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.

    Well, SEO has gotten interesting for sure these day. It used to be that all we worried about was organic. Then sponsored ads took up some more real estate.

    Now, we have google maps (local results), video results, RTS, news results, image results, and social search results competing for this valuable real estate.

    So do we have to optimize for six separate things??

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