Twitter search deal: five things you need to know

GLOBAL - The deal between Twitter and search giants Google and Microsoft to blend the microblog into their search results will have a big impact on the search marketing industry.

Twitter search deal: five things you need to know

Doug Platts, head of natural search at iCrossing, tells you what you need to know.

1. It’s important for travel brands

Travel is already one of the biggest sectors in search, both paid and natural, and these deals have potentially massive implications for the sector. One of the big issues for travel marketers is trying to communicate last-minute deals in real time. At the moment the best routes are by constantly updating paid search inventory and communicating via your own website. Now that Twitter results are going to be featured in Google and Bing's search engine results pages, however, travel brands can potentially just tweet their latest deals and let the search engines do the rest.

2. Its going to be big for retailers

This Christmas online is going to be all about price, and retailers will ideally want to be able to price reactively and in real time, and to be able to communicate these price changes quickly. At the moment they're relying on search engines spidering their sites quickly, but that's never guaranteed. With tweets feeding directly into the search engines, you can now just release new pricing information via Twitter and it will appear in relevant search results in real time.

3. Twitter becomes important for transactional sites

Hitwise recently unveiled figures showing that, while 55.9 per cent of outbound traffic from Twitter goes to media sites, only 9.5 per cent of traffic goes to transactional sites. This is going to change fundamentally with these deals. The attractions of marketing via the newly-increased distribution of Twitter mean that this is likely to change as brands jump on board. This could have significant implications for Twitter's business model - instead of covering its service with ads it could potentially just look to sell it as a qualified traffic-driving tool.

4. Customer service becomes more important

A lot of brands are already using Twitter as a customer service and research tool - monitoring for negative brand comments and trying to resolve customers' issues raised on the service. With tweets appearing in mainstream SERPs then this is going to be more important than ever as negative customer comments could potentially be exposed to massive audiences via the search engines.  You don't want a customer tweet saying ‘I'm never going to shop there again' appearing against your search results. There's a also a black-hat spam opportunity here for the less ethically minded - if you post negative comments about your competitors on Twitter, those tweets could then appear against your competitor's brand search terms.

5. Twitter's only going to get more important for marketers. 

This announcement shows how important Twitter is becoming to the internet ecosystem. If both Microsoft and Google have decided that Twitter is the only game in town when it comes to this sort of real-time search, then you can take it that it's going to be an ever more important part of the way people navigate the web. If you haven't already got a Twitter strategy in place then you're going to need to get one quickly - Twitter's audience is going to jump massively as a result of this announcement and if you're not on board then you're going to miss the boat.

The entire range of implications of these deals is, in the final analysis, still unknown, however it's safe to say that these announcements are a watershed for the industry. Search and social media are growing ever closer and the lines between the two are becoming increasingly blurred. Search has driven a lot of the growth in digital marketing over the last few months and years - if we want to maintain that momentum then we need to be prepared for the massive changes that are now facing the industry.    

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