It appears Google have sat up and taken notice of Twitter and the effects it’s having on people’s search habits.
Recently Larry Page said Google may be falling behind Twitter in the battle to provide real-time information. I talked before on this blog about how social media may be killing your SEO strategy. This could be true in more ways than one. In the US recently, stats were released that said Paid Search Traffic is Down 26%. Although this could be explained a little by the recession. It still may point to two other possibilities:
a. People are more internet savvy these days and know PPC ads are paid advertisement and not an indication of quality (an organic link gets 80% higher CTR)
b. There are less people searching on Google for particular queries
The second point is something that interests me and probably a lot of other people who work in online marketing. Are people looking to their social network during the informational phase of a transaction and doing their research via word of mouth. Well stats out form Knowledge Networks would seem to suggest otherwise. On this report one stat that really sticks out is
“less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to these sites for guidance on purchase decisions”
It would appear people are not using the power of social networks to make purchasing decisions but rather to interact with other people they find interesting. After all, social networking is not much different to networking offline. You look to find people who may be of interest to you on both a business or personal level and then start a conversation with them. Once a friendship has been developed you are more likely to ask for advice on an important purchasing decision. Even then, the quality of this information is dependent on how big your network is and how responsive it may be to you questions. I have seen multiple products for twitter that build lists automatically. I can’t imagine these sort of lists will add real value.
There is no doubt the stats from Knowledge Networks may change over time as social networks become more sophisticated. Lets face it, when looking for advice on a lot of products you rarely get an unbiased review as a lot of the results occupying the top stops are from affiliates. You are more likely to get an honest review from a member of your own social network, who you have built a relationship with and now have a sense of trust. We can also make the assumption Google is already applying some type of ranking metrics to social factors when deciding where an article/site should rank. I have been running my own personal tests on this and will share results over the coming months. There is also some great information over on WebMaster World.
Coming back to the start of this post. What impact does Larry Page’s comments have on SEO. Well its’ clear Google are going to develop some type system that allows them to index certain content a lot quicker. How this will work is still unclear. The most logical step would seem to be integrating Twitter search results into some type of Google structure. All this content would still be open up to some type of SEO as it will still need to be sorted in some type of logical structure. Creating a more optimised 140 chars and generating social buzz for it via retweets may be key to gaining number one spot in the world of real time search. This is pure speculation but the point being search engine optimisation is a marketing vehicle and people who are truly good at this have an abundance of skills that generate actual sales/converions/kpi’s for online businesses. Their skill set may evolve as people’s search habits evolve but it will not simply disappear ….
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