Real-Time Search – A Game Changer

Most web users today – more than 80%, use search engines when looking for products, services, and information on the internet. Search engines make it easy for them to type in a combination of keywords and phrases, and in return get a page full of results that may or may not match what they were looking for in the first place. Sometimes, the information is really good, but sometimes it is totally off-target, not relevant, or really old and outdated (or a combination of these). But now that real time search has arrived, things are changing quickly.

Earlier this month, Google announced that it has started using information from blogs, news sites, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as a way of providing users with fresher, more relevant search results. This is great news for search engine users, but what does it mean for small business web sites? It means that if you have a “static” web site that doesn’t get updated very often, it’s likely that your site will fall into obscurity in the search engine results in favor of fresher, more recent information that Google finds elsewhere on the web.

It also means that if you have not yet incorporated a social marketing strategy into your regular marketing mix, it’s definitely time to get started!

Why Social Networking is Important to Search

Social networking is not only a great way to connect with your customers and reach countless new prospects, but it turns out that it can also help you stay relevant in the search engines. Google’s list of current social networking partners includes Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FriendFeed, and Jaiku, to name a few. But, Google also includes blogs, news sites, and YouTube information in its search results. So if you want your web site to be listed in Google’s search results, it wouldn’t hurt to have a presence on as many of these social web sites as possible.

Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo are also on-board with real-time search results, and they have formed their own partnerships with the social networking sites as they strive to incorporate fresh, real-time social information in their search results as well. So it’s not just Google that’s taking the value of social networking seriously.

Participation IS Necessary

Even if your small business has already set up a Facebook profile or a Twitter account, it doesn’t mean it will help you in the search engines. Google also takes into account your social “authority” and participation on these sites; including the number of connections you have on the web and the type of content that you post, as well as the frequency with which you share it. When you provide useful information and consistently give value to your social networking followers, Google notices and rewards you.

Now What?

So as you can see, social marketing has turned into far more than a passing fad into a mission-critical business objective for many small businesses. However, you might be wondering how you can create a social marketing plan, implement the plan, and also maintain the flow of information without hiring additional staff members or adding more tasks to your already impossibly long to-do list. Well for starters, you could consider creating an integrated social marketing strategy for your business.

Integrated Social Marketing (ISM)®

We think that an integrated social marketing strategy is so vital to your business’ online success that we have actually trademarked the term! With good reason, too – integrating your social networking profiles with each other, with your web site, and with your existing marketing initiatives lets you take advantage of the true power of social networking, and makes it easy to keep information flowing seamlessly, without creating additional work for you or your staff.

With an integrated strategy, you can avoid creating a bunch of little “islands” of social profiles on the web – if you create five stand-alone profiles on five different sites, that just means you have to update five additional things on your task list. But by integrating your social marketing, you can “write once, but publish to many”, and the information automatically spreads among all of your integrated profiles for you. This naturally creates additional places for the search engines to find your fresh, updated information right where they are already looking for it – in the social networking and real-time search sites.

So as search engines continue to evolve and change to provide better search results to their users, it’s naive to think that your “static” web site can somehow show up in the search results without a steady supply of fresh content and at least some social media participation. The web today is a much more sophisticated place, and if you want your site to show up in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and be found by customers online, then you have to get serious about following the trends. Lucky for you, Google and the other search engines are already telling you how to do that – with social networking and real-time search.


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