There’s been a lot of buzz recently about deals between Twitter and big name search companies including Google and Microsoft. So what’s the deal? Why are the big boys so interested in small fry Twitter?
Real-time search. That’s why.
A recent article in Wired by Clive Thompson discusses the difference between Google and the real-time Web. Google, writes Thompson, “organizes the Web by who has authority” which is based on links whereas the real-time Web does the opposite and “generates a massive number of links and posting within minutes.”
Google is still the 800 pouind gorilla, but the point Thompson makes is that the real-time Web offers a whole new way of organizing information online — a paradigm shift away from Google’s methods.
I have blogged before about how microblogging represents what I have termed panconciousness. The real-time Web is the concrete manifestion of that mass consciousness, and microblogging is its voice. As Thompson notes, “trending topics” on Twitter give an immediate insight into that consciousness and what it’s preoccupied with at any given moment.
Enough of the philosophy already! What does this mean for SEO and marketers and indeed, the whole industry built around it, best practices, key words, etc.? I see at least three key issues:
User behavior — How do users create and share information around real-time topics. What drives some to blog, while others are content to retweet, or just read? We are going to have to learn how users act and respond to the real-time Web, and to results from searching it. We’ll need to understand how that behavior differs from responses to Google search results.
Spam — I’ve blogged about how Twitter’s Trending Topics are open to abuse, and Twitter’s recent efforts to curb spammers did little to address this issue. How will real-time search filter out the spam and prioritize content based on value? (Thompson mentions several approaches to doing this, but there’s no consensus yet.)
Consolidation — How are the established search engines (=collective memory + authority) going to combine their functionality with that of the real-time Web (= collective consciousness + immediacy)? Google News is a hint of what’s to come, but it’s got a long way to go to match what we see on Trending Topics.
So is it just a matter of Google and Bing including tweets in their search results as the recent deals have announced? But this won’t be enough. My guess is we will soon see a mash of Google and Twitter Trending Topics. Or something like it. Gooter? Twiggle?