Posts by Jon Clark:

Tips for Building a Better Story for Your Brand

Tips for Building a Better Story for Your Brand

Consumer brand perception and building engaging brand stories are fundamental to consumer awareness. The stories that brands weave into the marketplace have never been more important than now. With consumers’ access to multiple options via the Internet, your brand needs to really stand out to capture the attention of prospects, whether they encounter your brand on your products, in your storefront, on your website, or on sales booklets. The best way to do this is create a unique story for your brand. If you are able to attach a memorable story to your brand, then consumers are more likely to not only notice and remember you but also grow an emotional attachment to you.

Successful Brands Always Create & Share Stories

Brands build stories by creating value for society and solving the world’s problems. Brands are expected to do this while remaining profitable. Most successful brands work hard to contribute to the community within niche areas. Some brands have closely aligned themselves with causes. However, those receiving the most recognition are the brands that bring consumers on board with causes. Consumers enjoy supporting organizations they feel enable them to make a difference in the world.

Therefore, make sure to connect your brand with whatever charity organization you support. Let your customers know about your support by placing this tidbit of information on your labels, your website, your sales brochures, or any other piece of your brand in the public eye.

Story Building Translates into Sales & Customer Retention

The brightest marketers are aware of the importance of bridging the gap between announcing the brand’s good deeds and allowing consumers to join in to solve the problems as a team. Giving consumers the tools to assist in story creation for the brand leads to a better, more engaging story overall. Consumers become invested in the brand and become willing to spend money because they are investing in their own story. Some of the brands with the best stories are companies like Disney, Apple, and Nike; you may notice that the best stories are directly related to the value of the company’s stock.

To involve customers with your brand story, come up with a way to engage them either imaginatively or tangibly. For instance, it may be as simple as images that show customers living the lifestyle you portray or creating this environment in your store (such as with Starbucks and the strong brand environment found in every shop). Or you may get customers more fully engaged with a contest. You could even ask consumers to vote on certain brand story aspects.

Create & Refine Brand Stories for Optimum Results

Creating and organizing a brand story can seem daunting. Knowing what the story is about isn’t the hard part. Communicating a brand story in an interesting and relevant manner to audiences is the key. Story telling is the strongest form of brand building. Story telling is ingrained in almost every culture; it’s how humanity conveys ideas. Integrating story telling with public relations efforts can cause phones to ring off the hook and effectively build a brand.

If your brand is a product, consider placing your brand story on the back of the product. When consumers are perusing the store shelves looking for that perfect shampoo/conditioner, they very often read the back for ingredients. Your story will catch their eye and hopefully intrigue them enough to try out your product.

Share Success Stories with Consumers

One of the best methods companies can use is sharing success stories. This works effectively throughout all mediums – social media, print, TV. Stories that assist customers in overcoming obstacles and achieve success are stories that inspire action from consumers. Delivering stories like these is what brand building is all about.

Do you remember eating the cereal Wheaties for breakfast while reading the story of the latest sponsored athlete on the back of the box? This is an excellent example of how to engage customers with success stories associated with your brand story.

Build Interactive Brand Stories

Successful brands build stories and share them with consumers. Although story telling works with all mediums, the best medium for engaging consumers is through social media. When creating stories, make them interactive by posting them on major social media sites. Use a positive story on Twitter to blast a post on Facebook. If you get a favorable review, let your followers know. Show the brand at work making lives better and you’ll see improved engagement as customers make your goods and services a part of their story.

Breaking News: Apple Introduces Paid Search in App Store

Breaking News: Apple Introduces Paid Search in App Store

Apple announced a new Paid Search product for their Apple App Store that will provide an important opportunity for all marketers and developers to improve discovery of their apps in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Fuze has a number of insights around this product to share with you, to help keep you informed about the impact of this development and how to leverage it on behalf of your brand.

Apple App Store Ads

In a recent The Verge interview with Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing said

“We’ve thought about how to carefully do it in a way that, first and foremost, customers will be happy with,” adding that he believes the ad auction system will be “fair to developers, and fair for indie developers, too.”

What We Know So Far

Keywords:

Keywords will be the trigger for an ad to appear at the top of the search results page in the App Store – similar to traditional paid search marketing. Marketers have the option to let Apple choose relevant keywords for their app based on their meta data and performance using a product called Search Match, or marketers themselves can choose their own list of search terms based on their own performance data. Search Match will be a good option for smaller developers, while sophisticated advertisers will likely benefit from managing the list themselves. Negative matches will be available to ensure that ads only appear where marketers want them to.

Targeting:

Advertisers will be able to block ads from consumers who already have their apps while broader targeting will be limited to geo, gender and age.

Bidding:

Apple will have their own version of Adwords Quality Score within the App Store, which will help ensure that only relevant ads are returned for search queries. Higher-quality ads (determined by engagement and relevance) will be rewarded with lower costs. Initial prices will be determined by a second-price auction , so again, search marketers should be very comfortable diving in.

Cost Per Tap:

“Cost Per Tap (CPT)”, yet another three-letter acronym, will be how advertisers will be charged. This will replace the traditional “Cost Per Click (CPC)” metric that is now used in traditional search marketing. Apple will also make available Tap Through Rate (TTR) metrics.

Ad Units:

Currently there are two ad units available:

  1. One ad unit will feature a logo for the app and text pulled from the meta-data description
  2. The second unit is larger and features images from the app.

The Apple algorithm will determine which version shows up for a given query, and for now, the price is the same for both. There are plans for a third unit, the details of which have not yet been announced.

Measurement:

Apple has developed its own attribution API, the details and implications of which are not known at this time. However, given Apple’s closed ecosystem, measurement within that ecosystem should be very accurate. Connecting that data with other systems could be challenging though.

What You Can Do Now?

Opt in today on Apple’s site and focus on making sure your meta data is updated - ads will appear with copy and images using Search Match.

The official rollout occurs in the fall so, until then, there will be no bidding available and the early opt-in period is free. This period will allow you the opportunity to learn the system and collect valuable data so you are prepared when the product goes live later in the year.

 

Facebook Updates 20% Image Ad Text Policy

We wanted to share an update with you regarding Facebook’s 20% text policy. As of this week, Facebook will allow ads that exceed 20% text overlay to run on the platform.

What It Is:

Ads that were previously not approved for promotion due to exceeding the 20% text policy will now run on the platform, but with less or no delivery. The delivery of ads will be based on the amount of text present on the image. If ads are at risk of lower delivery, advertisers will be clearly warned across ad interfaces. Warnings will be delivered based on the below criteria:

Facebook Text Policy

Why This Matters:

Continue to Abide by Best Practices

Ensure the continued creation of quality content that fits seamlessly in the native feed as the 20% text policy exists to safeguard the quality of the user experience.

Increased Transparency

Instead of simply rejecting creative, Facebook will provide more insight into the “why” by warning advertisers that the quality of their creative will effect reach.

Expect Higher Costs

Lower reach will result in higher costs on content that exceeds 20% text.

Changes to the App Rating on App Cards for Twitter

Changes to the App Rating on App Cards for Twitter

The Twitter team just let us know that starting this month, App Cards will only display the app’s average rating if the app has a star rating of 3.5 or above. This change is in effect for Android and is slated to roll out on iOS towards the end of the month.

If the average rating is above 3.5 stars, the App Card will show the rating and the app category.

If the average rating is below 3.5 stars, the App Card will show the app category and the App Store or Google Play designation.

Why is Twitter doing this?

This was a heavily requested feature from mobile app advertisers. The change enables advertisers with a lower app rating to highlight other pertinent information like their app store category instead.

When is this happening?

You will see the new rating logic as of November 16 on Android. We expect to roll this out in the next few weeks for iOS.

Will this change be true across all of our app cards and placements?

Twitter has made this change across all Image App Cards and Video App Cards, in all placements, including the app carousel. The rating logic for Basic App Cards will not be updated, so they will continue to display all app ratings, both high and low.

What happens in cases where there is no app category available?

For apps with a high rating (3.5 stars or above) and no app category available, then the app store platform (App Store or Google Play) will display.

For apps with a low rating (below 3.5 stars) and no app category available, then the app store platform (App Store or Google Play) will display in row 2. In these cases, there will be no content shown on row 3.

After More than a Month, the Impact of Panda 4.2 Remains a Mystery

After More than a Month, the Impact of Panda 4.2 Remains a Mystery

Back in July, Google began to roll out Panda 4.2: the first update to the Panda algorithm in almost 10 months, since version 4.1 was released last September. Panda 4.2 is more of a refresh of the existing algorithm than a complete update, and will take several months to roll out completely. Google says that Panda 4.2 has affected 2% to 3% of English language queries–approximately 36 million searches. All of these factors mean that very few people have noticed an immediate or significant fluctuation in their organic rankings.

With only certain pages on affected sites currently experiencing changes, it’s difficult to determine the exact ranking factors impacted by Panda 4.2. And with Google maintaining their typical evasiveness on the specifics of algorithm updates, until more data is available, our best chance at understanding Panda 4.2 is to look at the Panda algorithm as a whole and infer from updates that have come before.

The Panda Algorithm: An Overview

A helpful breakdown of Panda algorithm updates from Search Engine Land shows that Panda 4.2 is, in fact, the 30th update since Panda first rolled out In February 2011. Google’s intent with the original Panda algorithm was to serve users with search results most directly relevant to their queries. In order to ensure the “best” sites ranked highly, Panda weeded out sites with irrelevant or threadbare content that was optimized to simply rank for targeted keywords. By penalizing so-called spammy sites, Panda rewarded websites with highly relevant, quality content that was not only optimized, but also engaged the user and answered their questions.

With Panda, Google’s message to marketers is clear: the content on our websites should be thorough and authoritative, and aim to create a helpful user experience. Moz’s Rand Fishkin has often said that content should go above and beyond unique or original, and aim to “10 times better than anything out there.” Each subsequent Panda update has continued to emphasize the importance of relevancy to the user, and the Penguin algorithm also shows how much emphasis Google places on this.

Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History says that the immediate impact of Panda 4.2 is unclear, and even more than a month later, the nature and reach of the update remains a mystery. Because it is taking so long for Panda 4.2 to roll out, only a few pages on affected sites are experiencing changes at a time, and many people have yet to report any change in their rankings whatsoever.

Google sites technical reasons for the speed of the roll out, but many webmasters are being left confused and frustrated. At any rate, it will be months before affected sites experience the full impact of Panda 4.2, once the update has completely rolled out.

Responding to Panda 4.2

As with any Panda update, it is already too late to apply any changes that will have an immediate positive effect on your site. According to the SEM Post, “these updates have a cut-off date and any changes made after this date will be applied to the next refresh or update.” Unlike other Google algorithms that are “everflux”–continually altering search results–Panda algorithms require actual updates. An update occurs, and rankings rise or fall depending on the factors emphasized by the update. But the changes you make in response to the impacted rankings aren’t factored in until the next Panda update. Whatever changes you make in response to Panda 4.2 won’t be counted in your favor until (the hypothetically titled) Panda 4.3.

This is why the slow rollout of Panda 4.2 presents so many concerns: it will take months before you’re able to see how you were affected how you need to respond. On the flipside, it will also take months to see if the changes you made after Panda 4.1 had a positive impact on your site.

When the update rolls out completely, assuming (as most of the speculation thus far does) that Panda 4.2 continues the trajectory of previous Panda updates, your site’s organic performance after your last round of updates should indicate if you’re on the right track. If your site experiences an increase in rankings after Panda 4.2, then continue with a strategy that expands upon the updates you made with Panda 4.1. If your site is penalized once Panda 4.2 completely rolls out, then consider revising your strategy.

At this point, with all the  mystery surrounding Panda 4.2, all we can do is wait and see. But if four years of Panda updates have shown us anything, it is that SEO has become less about a formula to optimize for search engines and more about a holistic strategy that seeks to directly impact and benefit the user. Even if it takes months before we fully understand Panda 4.2, as long as you continue to create outstanding content and respond to the current landscape of your vertical, you are well positioned to prepare yourself for future Panda updates.

CPCs for Branded Keywords Experience a Rise in Google AdWords

CPCs for Branded Keywords Experience a Rise in Google AdWords

Over the last month or two, search marketers across the web have noticed a confusing trend in the rise of the cost per click (CPC) for branded search terms. Some marketing agencies are reporting a rise in branded CPCs for clients of as much as 141% from Q2 to Q3, according to AdAge. While many search marketers allocate most of their paid search budget to non-branded terms, bidding on branded terms is an branded terms is an important brand protection strategy. It helps to make sure that your site dominates search results for queries containing your brand name.

The rise in branded CPCs has the potential to severely inhibit some brands’ paid search strategies. As Jason Tabeling of Rosetta told AdAge:

“it hurts the overall investment pool. [Brands] are going to struggle to continue the level of investment in the other areas that Google wants them to invest in….when brands see a poor [return on investment] they lose the ability to have a compelling business case to increase investment.”

If these trends could hurt the investment pool, why then, is Google increasing branded CPCs? At this point, we can only speculate.

Why are Branded CPCs on the Rise?

Google has always maintained that fluctuations in CPCs are reflective of how people bid. However, a historical analysis of the trends in minimum CPC increases suggests that these spikes are indicative of changes Google has made. In an article for Search Engine Land, Mark Ballard of RKG shows that minimum CPCs for brand terms experienced a spike in July and August 2014, which, when measured against this most recent spike, shows an increase of 40% year over year.

Ballard suggests these increases are a result of Google changing the way it sets minimum CPCs in AdWords. In this case, the minimum cost to appear on the first page or at top of the page does not depend wholly on the way marketers bid. “Google can choose to set the minimum CPCs however it sees fit,” he explains.

To contextualize Google’s license to set minimum CPCs independently of competition for the term, Ballard explains how minimum CPC relates to the actual bid for the term–and therefore the actual price marketers will pay for clicks on their ad. He says:

“The top of page minimum CPC serves as a floor for the advertiser’s CPC, not just the advertisers bid. If there isn’t sufficient competition in the auction to drive your CPC high enough to match the top of page Ad Rank threshold, the threshold itself will raise your CPC. This means Google can raise advertiser CPCs by raising minimum CPCs, even if all bids in the auction are held constant.”

Essentially, if Google sees fit to raise the minimum CPC for a term high above the amounts you and your competitor are bidding on the term, then you will ultimately pay the higher price that Google has set for your ad to rank. This is directly relevant to branded terms, which oftentimes have lower competition than non-branded terms. If you are bidding low on terms for your brand because competitors are not aggressively bidding on your brand, then Google could theoretically raise the threshold so you will have to pay more.

Adjusting Your Paid Search Strategy in Light of Rising CPCs

While many believe this is precisely what has caused the recent increase in branded CPCs, Google’s responses have been evasive and non-specific. “One of the main things we want to clarify is that Google does not set an artificial minimum for CPC ads as some websites have speculated,” a Google spokesperson told AdAge. But even if we can only speculate as to the why, we can at least strategize how we’re going to respond. In his article, Ballard has some insightful tips for search marketers, including:

  • Enabling relevant ad extensions for brand and non-brand keywords to raise your Ad Rank.
  • Gradually bidding less on brand keywords to reduce CPCs.
  • Reconsider bidding on brand keywords to determine the significance of their impact on your overall strategy which includes organic rankings.

Have you noticed a rise in the CPCs for your branded keywords? If so, how are you responding? Fuze would love to hear from you on our Facebook page.

European Commission Prepares Formal Antitrust Charges Against Google

European Commission Prepares Formal Antitrust Charges Against Google

The European Commission appears to be preparing to file formal antitrust charges against Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. As the European Union’s top antitrust authority, the Commission wields tremendous power in implementing and enforcing legislation that restricts companies from forming monopolies or depriving competitors of a fair share of the market.

While Google is an American company, the search engine maintains a strong web presence in European search markets–even more than in the United States. This makes Google subject to European business regulations, and entitles entities such as the European Commission to investigate any practices that are perceived to violate or fall out of line with those regulations.

This latest episode is not the first time the European Commission has explored legal action against Google, but it does mark the first formal charges filed against the company. While it is still possible that Google and the Commission may reach a settlement, it seems increasingly likely that the case will finally move forward.

Google Vs. the European Commission

Back in December, Fuze reported the latest in the antitrust investigation which had been ongoing for more than four years. On November 27, 2014, the European Parliament voted to separate Google’s search engine from its advertising businesses. The vote was symbolic–the Parliament has no legal authority to dissolve an American company’s properties–but it demonstrated an overall legislative attitude that placed pressure on the Commission to act. It falls well within the European Commission’s power to separate Google’s businesses, and the November vote had the potential to shape the course of the Commission’s investigation.

The case began in November 2010, when various European companies began launching confidential complaints against Google for its exertion of dominance over the search market. Amongst those complaints were allegations that Google had effectively formed an internet monopoly by emphasizing its own properties or those of its advertising partners’ in search results and limiting the web presence of competitor properties.

In light of the complaints, the European Commission was tasked with determining whether or not Google should “unbundle” their search engine from their other businesses to open search rankings up to competitors’ voices. Throughout the investigation, numerous solutions and settlements were proposed to avoid formal charges, with the European Commission even working with Google to placate the search engine’s opponents. Still, most proposals were dismissed by complainants as too lenient, and the investigation remained open with no real resolution in sight.

Cold Case? New Leadership Suggests New Consequences for Google

Throughout the investigation thus far, the European Commission has seemed to be on Google’s side. Jaoquin Almunia, Vice President of the Commission, was staunchly in favor of speedy settlements that avoided legal proceedings and benefited all shareholders. In one 2012 statement, he was quoted as saying, “these fast-moving markets would benefit from a quick resolution of the competition issues identified. Restoring competition swiftly to the benefit of users at an early stage is always preferable to lengthy proceedings.” In essence, Almunia sought to reach a compromise that satisfied all parties involved, including Google.

Propositions for a settlement reached by Google and Almunia often saw the company’s search and advertising businesses remaining intact. These solutions, the most notoriously attacked of which was known as rival links, often looked the same: Google retained its authority over search results, allowing them to prominently display their own advertising partners’ sponsored links, while relegating a fixed number of placements to be bid on by competitors such as Amazon. Studies commissioned by complainants in the investigation found these settlements to provide little additional value to competitors, and Almunia was criticized for his complacency in Google’s perceived monopoly.

Now, however, as antipathy grows towards Google in Europe, the almost five-year-long investigation is coming to a head. In March, the Wall Street Journal published a previously secret document that was part of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into Google’s business practices. The FTC is the United States’ equivalent of the European Commission, and while they have never filed charges against Google, they did investigate the company back in 2012. This document is from that investigation, and alleges that Google repurposed content from other publishers (such as Yelp, Amazon, and TripAdvisor), and penalized them in search results when they prohibited Google from using their content.

The document released by the Wall Street Journal indicated that the FTC echoes much of the European Commission’s concerns, thus renewing the focus on Google’s practices. Did this document incite the Commission’s actions, or did the European Parliament’s symbolic vote to dissolve Google’s businesses actually hold sway over legislators’ decisions?

Late last year, Margrethe Vestager succeeded Almunia as Vice President of the European Commission, and under this new leadership, the Commission’s stance against Google appears to be hardening. Business Insider reports that the Commission is now asking for various companies’ confidential complaints against Google to be made public. According to the article,

“The specific document the EU is reportedly preparing is known as a Statement of Objections. Once filed, it could kick off several years more of deeper investigations, counterstatements, and settlement discussions. If the company and the EU cannot reach a settlement, the EU could then issue penalties, including fines and restrictions on Google’s behavior.”

The very fact that the European Commission is requesting to publish the complaints indicates they are in the final stages of gathering documentation to file charges. What lies ahead for Google remains uncertain. To reach a settlement at this point would require Google to make drastic changes to Universal Search, and any proposal would be met with even more intense scrutiny.

If they cannot settle, Google may be facing fines of up to 10% of their annual revenue–roughly $6 billion based on last year’s numbers. They would then have the right to appeal, but given the widespread sentiments against Google throughout the European Union, there is no guarantee they would win. By any measure, the conflict between Google and European search markets is far from over.

Mobile Search to Become a Ranking Factor in Google’s Algorithm

Mobile Search to Become a Ranking Factor in Google’s Algorithm

Google just announced two major updates to the search algorithm that will mean better rankings for mobile-friendly sites. Beginning on April 21, 2015, Google will start to include mobile-friendly factors in its rankings, allowing sites that are optimized for mobile search to rank higher for searches done on a mobile device. In addition, starting immediately, Android apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing will also rank better in mobile search.

Google expects these change to have a “significant impact” on mobile search results globally and across all languages. They are postponing the mobile-friendly ranking update until April to allow webmasters enough time to prepare. Sites that are not currently optimized for mobile search must now, more than ever, pay attention to Google’s increased emphasis on mobile optimization.

As it is, these two updates indicate a rapid and important shift on the search engine’s part in responding to the growing number of searches that come from smart phones and tablets. As recently as January, Google began sending warnings to webmasters whose sites were not optimized for mobile, yet there was no indication that this was soon to become a ranking factor.

Still, this news does not come as a surprise to experts who have already been following the sustained uptake in mobile search in the last few years. Using mobility as a ranking factor seems like a natural progression for Google as we finally enter what many believe to be the “year of mobile.”

Have We Entered the Year of Mobile?

Digital marketing experts across the web are proclaiming 2015 the year of mobile. It’s been obvious for some time that trends in mobile search are on the rise: the percentage of web traffic driven by users on mobile devices has increased steadily over recent years, with consistent and sustained growth indicating that these patterns are likely to continue. In fact, VentureBeat has predicted that by 2016, mobile search queries will account for 61 percent of all site visits on the web.

As marketers, we’ve been hearing for a while now that each new year is the “year of mobile”, but these latest updates from Google mark a definitive new phase in web marketing. Not only are the trends speaking to themselves, but Google is responding by further integrating user behavior into search results to account for people searching more frequently on their mobile devices. The fact that Google has now incorporated mobile-friendly factors into its rankings, after years of speculation about the future of mobile search, proves that we are in fact in the year of mobile.

Mobile Tips for the Current Search Landscape

User experience is crucial to an effective mobile SEO strategy: ensuring that the content on your site displays correctly, not only on desktop, but across mobile devices. Neatly displayed, easily accessible content is key to mobile success. Think about how people are searching using their phones. They are on the go. They need quick answers. They need rich, visually stimulating content that won’t require them to slow in their pace to navigate dense text or a clunky layout.

To accommodate users without having to create multiple versions of the website, most sites turn to responsive design. A website built with a responsive design can “respond” to the type of device from which it is accessed. It’s layout can seamlessly adapt to display correctly on that device–be it a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Content renders in different sizes and layouts depending on the size and orientation of the screen, so that users can interact with the same content regardless of their device. Content is easy to manage, and this eliminates the need to create multiple pages for multiple domains, thus keeping the page and link authority of the original site.

A responsive design is essential to the mobile user experience. When designing across devices, you should make sure that your site navigation is clean and not overly complex, and  prominently display key contact and location information. Your content should be easily digestible, and should incorporate a variety of both written and multimedia content.

Building a website around mobile is no longer just an option. A mobile-friendly, responsive design should be at the forefront of your web strategy if you want to compete in the growing mobile search market. Some actually argue that mobile optimization is more important than your focus on desktop. Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers even suggests that mobile should be your priority. According to DeMers, “the industry standard used to be to create a design that worked on standard computers, then to ensure it was accessible via mobile. However, many leading design experts are now suggesting that good design means concentrating on mobile first, and desktop second.”

It is one thing to hear about how mobile is changing the search landscape as a whole, but what does that mean to your own site? How much should mobile search inform your web strategy? In all likelihood, the answer is probably “a lot”, but don’t just listen to the industry’s take on the issue.

In order to truly understand how mobile search affects your site, and how to leverage this growing market, spend some time gaining insight into your own audience. Dive into Google Analytics to see how many of your visitors access your site from a mobile device. Do they use smart phones? How long do they stay on your site from their mobile device, and what kind of content are they consuming? Analyzing this data will help you serve your audience’s mobile needs by understanding their behavior and tailoring your content to provide the most value to them.

Twitter Confirms Deal to Share “Fire Hose” of Tweets with Google

Twitter Confirms Deal to Share “Fire Hose” of Tweets with Google

Twitter is set to begin sharing its full stream of tweets with Google, CEO Dick Costolo announced during an earnings call on February 5. The stream, referred to as the “fire hose”, will provide the search engine with access to data from over 284 million users, according to a Bloomberg Business report.

Google currently crawls Twitter for updates relevant to search queries, but with over 6,000 tweets posted per minute, it is impossible for the search engine to to pull them all. This new deal gives Google direct access to the fire hose–their entire stream of tweets–which allows Google to index tweets right as they are posted.

A New Deal: What does the Firehose Mean for Search?

While Google’s immediate indexing of live tweets is reminiscent of their experiment with Real Time Search, this new deal is quite different than the previous agreement between Twitter and Google. From December 2009 to July 2011, Twitter shared tweets with Google, and that data was largely the foundation of Google Real Time Search: an entire section of search results comprised of live social media updates that refreshed in real time.

This feature died quickly after the deal between Google and Twitter expired, and there was never any attempt to revive it–most likely so Google could avoid providing search results based on information they couldn’t depend on. Since then, tweets have appeared in search results, though not in real time, and they are usually only the most popular or authoritative tweets.

There are still very few details as to how this new deal will work, though it is likely that tweets will appear much as they currently do, with relevant posts integrated into search results. Only now, Google will have a more comprehensive collection of data to crawl. There is not likely to be a separate section of the search results for tweets, and even more unlikely that tweets will be given preference in rankings. However, while there will not be a real time section for tweets, the tweets that appear in a search result are likely to be the most current updates.

For Google, this deal is an important step in further tailoring search results to user’s individual queries. Tweets contain highly specific and timely content, so enhancing search results by providing access to real-time tweets diversifies the content users are exposed to, and potentially creates a much more relevant, useful search experience.

Search Meets Social: Twitter Recognizes the Value of SEO

Even before the deal with Google, Twitter began making an effort to drive more organic traffic to the site. Just last year, the company announced that they’d renewed their focus on SEO, making hashtag pages crawlable by search engines to allow searches for popular hashtags to rank. As a result, the number of logged-out users or non-users visiting the site increased to 75 million per month–ten times more than their previous 7.5 million per month. With this kind of organic traffic accounting for such a massive growth in monthly visits, the next logical step was for Twitter to make all its content available to Google–not just its hashtag pages.

This deal represents that increasing emphasis on non-user generated traffic. “We’ve got the opportunity now to drive a lot of attention to and aggregate eyeballs, if you will, to these logged-out experiences, topics and events that we plan on delivering on the front page of Twitter,” Costolo said during the earnings call. “And that’s one of the reasons this makes a lot of sense for us now.”

Essentially, Twitter is recognizing the value of organic traffic driven by people who are not logged-in, but visit the site to view new and relevant content. Ensuring that tweets from the fire hose appear in search results means that Twitter can easily distribute more content to a wider audience, and possibly tap into an entire market of potential users.

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth tells Bloomberg Business, “the deal means more opportunities for Twitter to convert, and possibly monetize, logged-out users…it will also increase the frequency that people with Twitter accounts check the site.” While it does not appear that Google is paying for tweets, Twitter may still receive a data-licensing revenue–and the revenue generated by advertisements placed in front of a wider network of users means the deal can prove lucrative for the company.

The fire hose is not yet available to Google, but all speculation points to the likelihood that the deal will go into effect within the first half of 2015. Both companies have remained fairly tight-lipped about the specifics of the deal, but details will most likely be revealed in the coming months. There isn’t any direct action SEOs need to take right now with regards to their social strategy, but as more details emerge, we’ll provide more insight into ensuring that your tweets rank.