One of the biggest changes in search in recent months is the introduction of real time search. The big three – Google, Yahoo and Bing – now incorporate social media posts and other types of content in their search results.
Searching on Google for “Hurricane Earl” now leads to a blended search results page where one can find news, videos, Twitter posts, blog posts, even videos and images. The top 10 organic results have now been pushed down, more so when local business results and maps are added to the mix.
The search engines have realized that there are now two main sources of information to users: recommendations from friends, contacts and peers in social media, and their traditional search engine results. To make their search engines timely, they need to incorporate and bring into their search listings the parallel world of social media. They also realized the need to show other types of content, such as blogs, videos and news.
Many complain that the move to real time search have made for one big clutter in the search results. But it is what it is. Instead of complaining, small business owners need to think how they make sure that they are visible in the search results, amidst the clutter and other types of information.
So what does it mean to small website owners?
1. Get even better in search engine optimization.
Whereas before search engines only show the top 10 organic results in the first page of the search results, now your top 10 ranking is pushed down with listings of videos, posts from social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace. In fact, unless you are in the top 2 spots, chances are your listing may be below the fold, possibly reducing the clicks that your search engine listing generates. Instead of simply aiming for the top 10, aim higher and try to get to the topmost spots in the organic search results.
2. Become social!
Now is the time to actively develop your presence – and build your authority in the social media landscape. If you think Twitter is only for those who have lots of extra time in their hands, well, think again. It is important that you start looking at how to develop a strong presence in social media. Create a Facebook page and get your users to like and talk about your site and products. Start a Twitter account, and learn how to encourage retweets of your posts and to increase your @ mentions.
3. Study your analytics.
Now is the time to seriously take a look at your analytics to see what’s driving traffic to your site. Watch out for the keywords that you are ranking – and where you should be ranking. Find out which sites are linking to you – and what should be linking to you. Look for opportunities where you can generate traffic and sales.
4. Time to diversify.
Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, now is the time to seriously look at marketing strategies that you need to consider. Doing nothing may result to decreasing traffic for your site, as your search engine traffic may be reduced and if you are unable to take advantage of the expanded social search.
5. Work to get your site considered as a news source.
Google places news items at the top of the search result listings. This implies that sites considered as news sources have better chances of being visible in the search results. Check how your site can be considered as a news source. In Google, your site needs to submit an application for consideration http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/, while Bing News include sites they feel would qualify as a news source straight into their news listings.