Beyond PR

Jul 05, 2011

Chaos at Google Shouldn’t Up-end Social PR and Content Strategies

Source: Mashable

As many Americans were tending the grill, lolling in the shade and watching fireworks yesterday, the corner of the blogosphere devoted to search engines was on fire.   Google’s agreement with Twitter to display Tweets in near real-time in search results expired over the holiday weekend.

Tweets haven’t disappeared from search results entirely.  The public areas of Twitter are still accessible to Google’s spiders, and tweets are still showing up in search results.  However, Google is no longer taking a dedicated feed of tweet data from Twitter which included information about your social graph, enabling Google to display tweets from your social circle within your search results.

Google has effectively shut down real-time search, however, the company promises that it will return, but gives no set time frame.   In the meantime, tiny search engine Topsy is the only place one can search for tweets long-past.  However, other search engines, including Bing, will continue to intake feeds from Twitter, and incorporate social data and tweets in their search results.

Search engines are capricious, and it’s easy to forget the underlying fact that they are businesses and their motives do not include positioning your brand advantageously.   Rapid shifts in search algorithms can play havoc for those who attempt to game search results.

So what does all this mean for your PR and content strategies?  Nothing, I would argue.  Between the flurry of changes to their algorithm and the limited launch of Google+, Google has put its money on social content and personalized results.  Other search engines have done the same.  And, search engine benefits aside, social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn play important roles in the consumption (and sharing, and dissemination) of news and information.  Abandoning social networks because of the chaos at Google is a bad idea.

Many PR pros now consider search engine visibility for their messages and brands an important key performance indicator (KPI) and something they measure closely. Tactics that are still useful for building online visibility include:

  • Target your tweets. Find the different stories within your press releases, for example, and tweet them separately.  Don’t just tweet “XYZ Co. Announces Something Important….”  Look within the press release for facts, stats and bullet points that can stand alone as tweets, with links back to message. Don’t forget to identify and then use relevant hashtags.  (Tips on writing a tweetable press release)
  • Atomize the content.  Are you publicizing a white paper, or a new product?  Derive as much content as you can from your central asset.  Build a slide deck that offers key points and post it to SlideShare.  Create an infographic, and share that on Twitter and Facebook. Video a short chat with one of the key players and upload that to sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo, and embed it in your blog.  Atomizing the content puts interesting pieces of information in various networks, where people can find- and share – your message.  Many of these networks are search engine friendly and can provide one more way for your content to be indexed by the engines and displayed in their results.  (More on atomizing content)
  • Take the time to optimize the press release.  Using the correct keywords and structuring the press release (or any other content you plan to deploy digitally for that matter) with search engines in mind will more clearly inform engines about your message and can help improve how it is indexed, and ultimately displayed. (Learn more about optimizing press releases and other content)

Simply put, brands that take the time, energy and effort to build authentic presences in social networks to which their audiences gravitate will be rewarded. Loyalty, mindshare, and visibility via the viral nature of social sharing are key benefits organizations can derive from building a truly connected brand.

Related reading:

PaidContent: See You Later, Realtime: Google Ends Twitter Search Deal, For Now

Mashable: Google Loses Access to Twitter Stream, Suspends Realtime Search

SearchEngineLand: As Deal With Twitter Expires, Google Realtime Search Goes Offline

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

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