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July 22, 2009

SEM Synergy Extras – Optimizing for Real-Time Search

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Real-time search, a fairly new and much-discussed search channel, appears to be a topic in flux. I looked at some problems with real-time search earlier this month, inspired by resources from search leaders like Danny Sullivan and David Harry.

It was right around the time I sensed a critical-mass of interest had bubbled up from the SEO community. But that was a whole two weeks ago! Since then, discussions surrounding real-time search have continued to evolve. Jumping in the discussion, real-time search was the topic of today’s episode of SEM Synergy, Bruce Clay, Inc.’s weekly podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm.

Dana Lookadoo, an Internet marketer specializing in conversational SEO — a phrase she coined to describe her social media and search optimization hybrid approach — was today’s guest. Dana shared her recommendations on making real-time search work for marketers.

Twitter blog header

While I had already understood the value of real-time search for buzz monitoring and audience engagement, I was under the impression there wasn’t much that could be done by the way of optimizing for real-time search. Instead, Dana laid out some concrete tips for tweet optimization.

1. Frontload your tweets with keywords

Every tweet has its own page, and thus, its own Title tag. While these Title tags are generated by Twitter, users do have a degree of control over what shows up there. Search marketer Edward Lewis wrote about his experiments with Twitter title tag optimization and found that the first 48 to 61 characters of a tweet are likely to show up in the Title tag. Because of this, it’s a good idea to include important keywords early in the tweet to increase the chances they’ll end up in the Title.

2. Put retweet references at the end
As the first part of a tweet is duplicated in the page Title, indicating that it’s a retweet by including “RT”, or any variation thereof, at the beginning of the tweet will eat up valuable character real estate. [Aww, but that’s hard. I like the click-RT-and-go method. –Paula]

3. Include keywords in custom, shortened URLs

When it comes to including keywords on the page, shortened URLs offer an additional opportunity. The ability to customize a URL is offered by several of the short URL generators. At the Online Marketing Blog you can find a table that compares several of the best URL shorteners and lists their features, including customization and tracking. Check out the services that have a “Yes” in the “Customizable URL” column. [Or you can install PowerTwitter and do it on-the-fly without changing tabs. But there I go sounding lazy again. –Paula]

4. Include keywords in hashtags

In my Twitter stream I usually see hashtags used as a way to add a humorous or complementary element to the tweet, as evidenced here. And I’ve seen them used as a way to unify conversations about a single subject, as seen here. Hashtags also can be used as a place to add keywords. Putting keywords in hashtags can be particularly useful if the keywords can’t easily be worked into the main content of the tweet. [@SusanEsparza is a hashtag master! (Hi boss.) –Paula]

Marketing through social media channels is still a science under development. But social media’s profitability is becoming harder to question. That’s why it’s so crucial that marketers enter the dialogue now.

I’d like to thank Dana Lookadoo for sharing her thoughts on how social and real-time search can be used as marketing tools. Plus, everyone will be excited to hear that WebmasterRadio has launched an improved chat room on the site after taking down the original one a few months back. Its real-time chat dynamic was surely missed.

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3 responses to “SEM Synergy Extras – Optimizing for Real-Time Search”

  1. Dana Lookadoo writes:

    Virginia, thank you for the opportunity to chat about real-time search, social search, or whatever current buzzword we determine to use. As Bruce mentioned at the opening of the show, real-time search is neither real-time or search. I agree with David Harry, the term is a misnomer.

    Semantics aside, the value of having access to conversations provides users and marketers with access to near-real-time information and sentiment. I didn’t fully explore your question, “Why are people turning to real-time search?” and will do so with a blog post.

    It is like monitoring a stream, as Bruce referenced. And Susan was right when she mentioned how real-time search is a playground for spammers! Users and marketers must filter past the chatter and SPAM. By optimizing specific “interjections” in the stream of conversation, however, businesses can optimize their sharing to increase discoverability.

    Tweets with optimized keyword structure, URI shorts and hashtags may get retweeted, pumping up the “votes” for such keywords associated with the referenced link (surrounding SEO text). If one wants a tweet to have traction, format it with the right “hook” like you would for a title to a viral piece of content.

    Also, I ponder how much the quantity and quality of followers influences the importance of a tweet on Twitter? Should we be blocking followers who are spammers and seek quality friends in the same way we put value on high-quality inbound links? A thought…

    Enter your Twitter profile into Yahoo! Site Explorer to view how your tweets are now indexed as incoming links to your profile. That’s quite an eye-opener.

    We should also optimize our Twitter profile bio, which appears as the “meta description” for our listings in search.

    Gosh, and we just wanted to share and have conversations with our friends! Now we have to think about how our social media conversations are indexed!

  2. Dave writes:

    Hey gang, did ya figure I’d show up on this one? Yea, of course ye did!
    RTS is really the buzz term of the year much like ‘social search’ was last year. And ‘buzz’ is also interesting as most of these tools tend to be nothing more than ‘buzz monitors’. One has to think much of this are these applications trying to ride the coat tails of being a ‘Google Killer’ and so ‘search engine’ becomes part of the game. It should be noted that none of the ‘social search engines’ (Mahalo being the largest of note) were more than a blip on the radar to the major engines and this year’s flavour is likely no different.
    You also touched on an important aspect during the webcast, spam V adoption. While the spam isn’t debilitating at the moment, if any of these RTS applications ever achieved wide adoption it’s entirely likely that the spam would be a bloody mess. This also is a problem with SEO folks looking to ‘optimize’ (another silly term) for RTS. None of these applications are really sending enough traffic to seriously target for any type of meaningful ROI on the activities (more the domain of SMM peeps at this point).
    Since I went a’ ranting and a rambling on RTS I’ve had some interesting discussions with a few folks in the realm. Of note is OneRiot and their ‘PulseRank’ technology. This week I am interviewing one of the engineers over there and should have something posted the week after. These folks are interesting as they are trying to actual do some indexing, ranking and spam control – the three elements needed to really be a serious ‘search engine’. Am I convinced? Not really, but that’s why we’re chatting, I hope they can bend me to their vision…
    You can learn a bit more about their approach in this white paper;
    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=8317396
    Also, since we touched on social search, Max, CEO of Aardvark, has also contacted me and we’ll be talking about their offering in another interview this week…
    You guys also mentioned the various patents on ‘friendrank’ type concepts which I thought to also put in 2c on. What is important about those approaches is that they are (primarily) geared towards pimping advertisements. Think of AdWords and presenting your marketing message to the person with the most followers of value for your market. They would look at social network users and find those with the greatest influence to target for advertisers for maximum exposure. Sure, this can also be used as a recommendation engine for content and even suggesting other users, but at the core is a social targeting system for advertisers.
    Well, I’m rambling on once more… sigh… I’ve yet to bury this whole social/real-time search thing quite yet, so look for more in the coming weeks…
    Thanks as always for the mention, this is an interesting topic… just not sure how it will play out at the end of the day (methinks dead-pool much like ‘social search’)…

  3. Monika Lorincz writes:

    Great twitter tips ;) you can also check on twitter updates on surchur.com. we will also show you results from other social media sites – check out our dashboard and tell us what you think.



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