Danny Sullivan SMX Talk April 15th, Sydney – “Twitter, Real-Time Search and Real Time SEO”

Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land and co-owner of SMX, is a speaker who carries a lot of weight. The room was mostly full and it was obvious that many SMX attendees were keen to hear him speak, regardless of the topic. He also chose an area he knows a fair bit about, as Danny is prolific user of Twitter, with 130,811 followers and 21,805 Tweets as of this writing (and it seems almost none, if any, are scheduled Tweets).

Image from Flickr by search-engine-land

So What Did He Say?

Danny’s talk focused on social search, real-time search and SEO. He started off by making the point that search originates from an overt expression of desire. He then went on to differentiate between the different types of social media: social networking (e.g. Facebook), social bookmarking (e.g. Blinklist), social news (e.g. Digg), social knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia) and social sharing (e.g. Twitter).

Social search is defined as search results influenced by social networks and social media. Next he spoke about the history of social search by looking at Google social search (that started by showing Digg data, then Tweets and then +1 button) and Bing social search (which includes Facebook likes) separately.

In the social search Google algorithm recency dominates the algorithm followed by “top updates”. In Bing, social search is really Bing real time search with a blend of Twitter, shared links and public update results.
Danny also noted that few people seem to measure real-time traffic search metrics and follow the numbers through. Many will focus on how many Tweets they made, or followers they have but few are tracking the bottom-line results (i.e. sales, conversions, business KPI improvements) that originate from real-time search rankings.

He stressed the value of having a big social network to disseminate your content so that it has greater reach. He also described Tweets as the new link building because they’re follow links and an easy way to gain new links. The links might not have a very long hang time in the Google algorithm but they’re a big factor in whether or not you appear for real time search results for the keywords you’re Tweeting about. The authority of the person making the Tweet also has a massive bearing on the value of the link in search engine algorithms.

Next he spoke about brand management on Twitter and the best way to do it. For example, Dominos Pizza do Twitter searches for their brand name, but they should also search for “I need a” + keyword, i.e. “I need a pizza”. That way they would find Tweets like: “I need a pizza recommendation, does anyone have one?” and be able to respond.

With Twitter, he said that studies have shown that if something hasn’t been re-Tweeted in 15 minutes, it probably won’t be re-Tweeted at all.

Key Takeaways

There was a lot of information for one session but the most important takeaways for me were:

  • It’s important to find ways to track your real time search rankings and the results of your search marketing activities that concern real time search. For example, social media campaigns should be creating real time search results that drive traffic and increase your KPIs. Finding tools and ways of doing this will be one of the big challenges for real time search campaigns over the next 12 months.
  • Being creative and clever with how you use Twitter (the “I need a” + keyword searches) is essential to reputation management and engagement, allowing you to interact with users who haven’t necessarily mentioned you by brand name but are still interested in what you can do for them.


Search marketers will need to find tools and processes that help them measure and track KPI results that originate from social search, real time search and Twitter interactions. Think clearly and select the right social platform with which to share content or links as well as a way to track the results of that initiative and you’ll get some important feedback and market intelligence that will help you improve the way you create real-time and Twitter content.

See cthurston's author page for links to connect on social media.

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