Real time news in search engines – what does it mean for SEO?

Real Time Web

2009 has seen a lot of enhancements in Real Time search and news. A lot of this revolves around the increasing use of social networking.

Google Realtime Search

Google has recently made agreements with various partners involving involve real time search, including Facebook, Twitter & MySpace. Having direct access to this data cuts down on crawling and indexing time, allowing Google to display immediate articles, interspersed with the usual natural search results. You can see a demo of this functionality in the following video:

Bing and Yahoo are also displaying Twitter news in search results, although perhaps not as effectively as Google, which is also offering ‘Living Stories’, hosting & summarising stories from the New York Times & Washington Post.

Pubsubhubbub and RSSCloud

These are both technologies designed to streamline and expedite the delivery of real time news and articles to various mediums. Both are essentially extensions to Atom and RSS.

RSSCloud’s Cloud Pipe promises to deliver to desktop and mobile devices even if “behind a firewall or NAT”. In summary, they’re going to make it even easier for publishers to deliver and more importantly for aggregators to consume and interpret relevant stories.

What does it mean for SEO?

Search engines are still going to crawl content for some time to come – not all information is ‘instant’. Authority websites publishing good quality information are still going to be needed by users and therefore search engines are going to continue to cater for them. However, it does highlight the fact that there’s another fast growing audience – the ‘realtime’ audience – looking for instant news, which search engines and other aggregators are going to be providing. This represents another opportunity to attract visitors…

Social bookmarking

This isn’t a new concept – there are dozens of widgets out there designed to make it easy for you to add ‘social bookmarks’ to all your news/blog pages, allowing users to quickly share a page that’s captured their attention with the online community. Add this is a popular tool and you can often find plug-ins in your favourite blog software to make it even easier. Having real time news feature in organic search result pages gives even more reason

Use of social networking sites as publishing channels

Create pages or Groups for your business on Facebook and LinkedIn. Start Twittering! Post teasers whenever you have an opportunity, linking back to relevant articles on your website. Make sure these are relevant though. It’s good to get instant exposure in real time search results, but the ultimate aim of creating Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is to create a community and engage an audience, so spamming will alienate them.

Little & often

To increase your chances of featuring in real time search results, you’re better to write one 200 word article a day, than one 1,000 article a week. Again, bear in mind you’re not aiming to spam your followers, so try to resist the temptation to publish low value items every 5 minutes.

Timely events

Try to tie your posts in with specific newsworthy events. It will mean users searching for current events are more likely to match your articles and search engines temporal algorithms are more likely match a topical subject.

Make sure titles contain keywords

More often than not, it’s only the title and perhaps the first few words of an article that will appear in a Twitter feed or an aggregated news item. Making your page titles descriptive is already key in ‘traditional’ SEO, but it becomes even more important with real time search.

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