There have been a few major turns that have been thrown into the search engine road map recently. While these technical aspects might not interest you, how your online brand will be affected should.

With the new year there will be some major changes to how Yahoo! gets their natural search engine listings (organic listings picked through the search engine’s robot) for any given keyword result, including yours. The way Yahoo! used to gather the sites eligible for top results involved allowing sites to pay a flat rate to have their site’s feed (list of links) submitted to the search engine. With this program, called the Yahoo! Paid Inclusion program, sites would typically rank pretty well on Yahoo! for a small cost per click fee. We’ve gotten a few clients amazing #1 and first page listings through this system and it was by far the most cost effective program on the Internet. Another way that we used to get listings for clients on Yahoo! was to pay a nominal annual fee to be included in Yahoo’s search index… which will also be discontinued. (Click the below image for a larger version.)

Paid vs Organic Listings

Paid vs Organic Listings

Many designers, artists, and luxury product manufacturers out there reading this right now are thinking to themselves blah blah blah, so what???… but wait!

This is where the future of the search engines takes another turn. Yesterday Yahoo! announced that they are experimenting with providing real-time search results from services like Twitter. Google already announced similar developments with their search results weeks ago; so now it appears as though we have a “social results race” that has officially been kicked into high gear. Who will be the first to have fully integrated, real-time social media in their search engine results? Who will do it better? Who will gain more searchers? Why should YOU care?

This is why you should care, this will affect your business in one way or another:

The possibility exists, and is getting stronger by the moment, that tweeps (the equivalent of ‘peeps’ on twitter e.g. ‘people on twitter’) will be able to tweet their way to the top of the search engines by having strong, influential, authoritative twitter accounts. This means that if your competition already has a twitter account, or if some angry customer has been on twitter for years, you can probably expect that their tweets from twitter will be served right up there with your corporate website when someone searches for your brand name on Google or Yahoo! If someone went to a showroom and wants to get more information about your products or services and searches for your name or brand name you don’t want the competition’s tweets showing up above yours for everyone to see.

What should you do???

Sign up for a twitter account with your brand’s name and start tweeting daily, or better yet, hire us to do it for you. We manage numerous twitter accounts for ourselves and for our clients and these accounts have become some of the most high quality, influential twitter feeds in their respective industries. The next step is to really take this social media marketing thing seriously, because your company’s tweets and your company’s website will not be enough. You will need to be in numerous social networking arenas such as facebook, digg and others if you want to be able to have enough search engine listings to push ‘joe shmo’s’ tweets down in the search results. The more content and social media you put out the better, and this cannot just be done in a quick blast, but must be continuously maintained so that it doesn’t hurt your brand’s image. I often see a brand that makes a good, initial effort at creating and updating a twitter account, but then they let it die with their last message tarnishing their brand’s image with something like “We will have big news for all of our followers tomorrow! Stay tuned! 3:25 PM Mar 18th, 2008”.

Social media marketing is not new, but the impact that it will be playing in the near future with millions of people on twitter and facebook could have on every website out there is monumental( note: there are more people on facebook worldwide then there are people in the U.S.). It is much better to be prepared for the social search listings by maximizing your social presence through social networking platforms today, then be very very sorry tomorrow. Don’t forget that by building your own social presence now you will also be catering to your clients and consumers of tomorrow. Those companies that do not increase their brand awareness online and through social media will miss out on the new luxury marketplace of tomorrow.