Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update on Real Time Search: I Want it Now! #sesuk

This a live blog from day #2 of Search Engine Strategies London. As it's a live blog please expect typos of terror, mistakes of mayhem and sentences that make no sense. Teapot.

This session covers "Update on Real Time Search: I want it Now!" which is moderated by Yahoo's Jon Myers and has Aaron Kahlow of the Online Marketing Summit, Dave Coplin, Director of Search at Microsoft UK Consumer and Online Business and Paddy Moogan of Distilled.

Dave Coplin

Good job. It's his job to be thinking about the future of search. Dave's from Bing. He begins by admitting that one aspect of search is about making money. However, the other bit, the bit he wants to talk about, is the consumer facing part of search. Search is increasingly the portal to the internet.

Where are we on the search journey? Dave thinks we're at he very start, the early stages and has stats to back it up. Only 1 in 4 searches are success. We've heard this from Bing - tempted to ask whether Bing's managed to lower that number yet. 75% of queries are just re-query corrections and 40% of queries go on for more than 30 minutes.

Dave asks why search engines can't automatically detect when searches are coming from a primary school and automatically tailor the results to ensure that they'll be appropriate.

The topic of this track is "Update on Real Time Search" but Dave explains for Bing it's really "Real Time Decisions". It's a big difference.

How much of the old library metaphor still applies to the internet; pages and links? In the evolution of the web we've seen people & profiles added, places & maps and also services & applications. I think the suggestion is that Bing is evolved towards cloud based computing solutions.

Back in the days we talked about informational searches, navigational searches and transactional intent. Is this still appropriate? Don't people want to do all of this in one visit? Bing's spokesman suggest that a single "uber-intent" is where the magic of future search rests. However, to make this happen we need to tell search engines about ourselves. We need to cross the privacy boundary.

Privacy is so important and so emotional that Dave predicts this will be the battle for the next 10 years.

Social search isn't just about searching Twitter archives. It's about searching with that social signal in mind.

Dave's discussing whether speed is transactional or not. He gives the example that a Tube app on your smartphone isn't good enough. It doesn't solve your problems. A much better solution would be one that managed to get you on the right tube, helped you with the shopping and catch the film in time. Could "blending" be the solution? Dave suggests his friend Mike, a movie buff, might be a useful source of information when it comes to solving this problem. If you looked at the Tube map app because you wanted to get to the cinema then the correct real time decisions the engine needs to make is contact you with cinema advice you trust.

Paddy Moogan

Paddy's an SEO. We'll be looking at real time search with SEO in mind for this talk. How has it changed, where is it now and what's important? How do you benefit - improving CTR, more traffic and reputation management.

Paddy illustrates how real time has improved. Not that long ago real time results appeared in most Google SERPs. Google's getting better at showing them now, working out when it is relevant to do so. Paddy suggests the following factors are involved;

- Is the User looking for latest results?

- Does the keyword deserve real time search results

- Are trusted sources mentioning this keyword in new content.

- Google Suggests influx of similar queries (a supply and demand scenario)

- Influencers are talking about it


A keyword with a lot of current social mentions is more likely to be a keyword that deserves real time search results. Equally, not every tweet is shown by Google as that's simply open to abuse.


How do you improve your real time CTR? Paddy ran a test. We begin by looking at one of his tweets (also helps confirm he's @PaddyMoogan and not "Patty" as the SES magazine says). His next tweet includes an image (yfrog hosted) and he points out how much more likely that Tweet is to be clicked. The third test links to an image hosted on your site.

Problems? Google took between 4 an 10 minutes to show an image included in a tweet. Paddy suggests the solution is to tweet the image so when you follow up with your main tweet and re-mention the image it's included.

Another problem? People tend to go to the image rather than the link. If they end up at somewhere like yfrog then they're not on your site. Paddy suggests the 301 is the solution. This is perfect for launching infographics.

Can real-time search be used for reputation management? Paddy suggests it has some possibilities although there are better solutions to the problem. One way you can use Google's real-time search interface is to make use of the timeline graphic that those searches produce and use it to jump back to the last surge in keywords and see what caused it and who was writing about it.

Quick fire tips;

- Get into Google news
-- Use multiple authors
-- News sitemap
-- Number in the URL
-- Keep pestering Google

(* Live blogger's caveat; got plenty of experience with Google News. I'd suggest that Paddy's almost correct here - I'd encourage you to read through the details guidelines Google provides to publishers)

- Blog of breaking news
-- Monitor Twitter
-- Write a story
-- Reach out to the people who show on Google Real Time

(* Live blogger's shameless plug; I'm presenting on exactly this tomorrow in the Henry Moore room at 12:45)

Aaron Kahlow

No presentation from Aaron, he's staying at the speaker desk to verbally share some tips - the world would be a better place with one less PowerPoint, he says. That certainly explains why I noticed the conference organisers running around trying to track his presentation down just before the start of this session.

Aaron suggests that "real-time search" is an oxymoron. It doesn't work. Aaron suggests that Google couldn't cope with Twitter's success, their algorithms weren't built for that sort of content and we're now at the early stages. As a result none of the real-time search advice you're going to get is set in stone.

We're challenged to ask whether real time search is a priority. Perhaps not, suggests Aaron, unless you're in the newspaper business.

Aaron suggests that when people use Twitter to validate what they've discovered from search is when real-time gets interesting.

A few tips
- Monitor what's happening, don't dive in first
- Look at how you get your content out there
- But the Tweetmeme and similar buttons on your site
- Reach out to your community

Aaron finishes early so we can move into questions.

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