Search marketing is more than web, more than keywords
Search marketing means being visible where someone has overtly expressed a need or desire
“Normal” search is a many-to-many platform
Many marketers reach out to many searchers at the same time
Real Time search: when people ask questions that anyone can see that anyone can answers – in seconds! You know exactly who is asking and who is answering.
Real Time search marketing is largely a one-to-one platform. See the tweet. Reply to the tweet.
RT Search: easy to do, very effective, well-known but equal to ranking for your own brand
With RT search, your profile can rank for pizza, luggage, and other awesome keywords. How cool!
Plug for searchengineland.com
Check out Replyz.com, an entire site that monitors questions on twitter for all sorts of topics
Real Time link search: many-to-many
Google now features these links in static form in SERPs
Links can help build long-term credit for the “normal” search results
Put your links out there; build retweets/sharing
Yes, twitter nofollows all links. But other services that grab your tweets are dofollow. Good point.
Relevancy over Recency: first in, last out is changing
Relevant results getting more hang time
With 18 billions searches per month on Twitter (double the number of searches that Yahoo does each month), changes may make Twitter Search more many-to-many
Twitter beta test for ads is currently running. Buy your way to the top.
Facebook: one-to-none. You can see posts, but you can’t reach out, can’t reply to people. Ads might improve for search. Search results themselves may change.
Next up: Stew Langille, Vice President, Marketing, Mint.com
How real-time drives seo and social acquisition for Mint.com
Develop strong content for real timeSEOConstantly monitor strong topics. Produce content around that trending topic. And then you can rank for the trending term(s).
Energize your communitiesDevelop active communities. All communities act differently. Develop content targeted for each community.
Leverage assets like data
Driving traffic for merchant and category specific keywords (black friday, wal-mart). Partnering with Google on Local Search Trends. Q&A driving more searches in universal search lately.
Tracking and analyticsIntegrate API’s from Google Trends, Twitter – matching KWs to trending topics. No current tools to track Twitter feed traffic from SEO. Build what you can’t buy. Free tools: klout.com, hootsuite
Next up: John Shehata, Director of SEO & Social Media, Advance Internet, Inc.
Ranking factors for real-time: some very similar to traditional ranking factors, some very different and new
Bing and Yahoo focus mainly on twitter, but Google focuses on many more sites.
Google recently added recent updates for images
RT ranking factors: user authority, microblogging freshness, number of followers, quality of followers, ratio of followers in contrast to the number of people followed, URL real-time resolution (look at how many of your links go to good neighborhoods vs bad neighborhoods), # of people retweeting your posts in the last minute, hour, day
Reputation & Popularity: It’s not about how many followers you have. It’s about how reputable those followers are.
Having followers with high authority theoretically helps your tweets rank higher in Google real-time search
Influence & Impact: influence is the likelihood that a twitter user will A) retweet something a user posted and/or B) reference the user. (The number of followers a user has. The number of unique references and citations of the user in Twitter. The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeted. And a few more.)
Other possibly factors: recent activity. User name. Age of account. External links. Tweet quantity. Ratio of followed vs follow. Lists: how many lists do you appear in?
Check the firehose. Use the from:username feature in Twitter Search to see if your tweets are being fed to Google
Get your fans/customers to share your brand on social services
Limit sharing options
Make it easy to have your readers share your links, tweets and status updates
Encourage retweets by tweeting shorter tweets (less than 120 characters)
Produce content that appeals to social-savvy audiences
Employ content that encourages news users to engage socially
Don’t update multiple accounts. Re-tweet instead.
Connect your social profiles.
Attract reputable followers.
How to identify hot trends: Google insights, Trends, etc… Also determine your seasonal keyword trends.
Google News Suggest: different results than Google universal results.
How do online users search for news – People on search 5 ways: names, place, event/showname, hot subject/topic, organizations
Don’t use multiple hash tags. Looks spammy. Breaks the display in Google.
Tracking: Track your Google and Bing twitter referrals. Can’t do it (easily) in Yahoo. He says no way to find out right now.
Next up: Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance
Develop a twitter strategy. Consumers first. Time and resource needs. Goals.
Pizza Hut hired a “tweetologist” – a fulltime employee who tweets
Hugo Chavez hired 200 people to manage his twitter account
Full-time person (high degree engagement), part-time person (less engaged), static automation (mostly notifications, little interaction), Smart Automation (engaged, though impersonal)
Intelligent Agents: twitter.com/sp411 – use direct messaging to ask it questions, it will post answers
Use twitter search to discover how consumers need to interact with you. Monitor for topics for your business. Find people who are looking for products, answers related to your business = finding customers.
Twitter.com/DealMapDenver – pretty cool deal page for a locality. A great idea if you have locations in different cities.
Use OAuth to show source of status updates.
Lists may be the future. Lists allow you to target very focused groups for particular topics.
Automate updates from Blog, RSS: twitterfeed, dlvr.it (can set up multiple streams across multiple social accounts). cool stuff indeed!
Blackhats are setting up multiple feeds on Twitter. They watch Google Trends, and use it to their advantage. No way. I don’t believe that. Pause. Not! Of course they are. Blackhats forever!
Closely.com – for small business social media management.
Average twitter username is 9 characters long. Interesting.
Encourage retweets: shorts tweets, include call-to-action, use common words that are retweeted more often, use special characters to grab attention, URL shortening with keywords in the URLs
Hey! I am sure you are all aware of last week’s PageRank update. Yeah, it happened. And even though Google recently told us to stop concerning ourselves with PR so much, I’m still going to check out how my sites are doing. I dunno. I know Toolbar PR is way old and outdated and such, but I don’t care. Old habits die hard, right?
Is anyone else out there seeing massive increases in the PageRank for their Twitter account(s). I have about 100 accounts, and I’m noticing all sorts of good stuff. Primarily, I am not the owner of several PR5 Twitter accounts. Many of these have only a few status updates, and they are all less than a year old. I mean seriously. I have several PR4 Twitter accounts that only have ~200 followers. That is wild. I’ve done some checks on other domains, but the recent PR update didn’t seem to have any major effects on PR for typical sites. I could be speaking too soon on that one. I guess we’ll hear more about the effects of this PR update in the next few weeks. But really, why am I seeing massive PR increases for Twitter? Does Google really like real-time status updates that much? Anyone need any links from Twitter? 😉
Holy crap. This does not sound good, and Evan Williams (@ev, founder of Twitter) is definitely distressed about the whole thing. There are several news stories popping up all over the place, reporting that Twitter was hacked. However, the more I read about it, the more it seems that user accounts were not necessarily the goal of the hack. In fact, Ev claims that no user accounts were compromised. Rather, it seems that the hacker gained access to an email account. From there, Hacker Croll was able to use password retrieval methods (and social engineering) to gain access to all sorts of other services. Hacker Croll claims to have gotten access to all sorts of stuff – from email accounts to PayPal accounts to Apple accounts to Twitter accounts to Twitter’s domain name account at GoDaddy to phone numbers to time sheets to Twitter financial projections. It’s amazing what Hacker Croll claims to have accessed.
I’ve been running through the headlines. From what I can tell, here’s what happened:
In May, an anonymous hacker who goes by the name Hacker Croll hacked into Twitter (PC World)
He gained access to the Twitter account of Jason Goldman, a director of product management with Twitter
Hacker Croll posted 13 screenshots to a French online discussion forum (Zataz.com – posts have since been removed by Hacker Croll)
Hacker Croll claims: “one of the admins has a yahoo account, i’ve reset the password by answering to the secret question. Then, in the mailbox, i have found her twitter password…” (WarezScene.org)
Here is a roughly translated list of everything Hacker Croll claims to have gotten access to: Twitter Hacked!
Ev confirms an attack, but claims it was not an attack on Twitter and that no Twitter user accounts were compromised (TechCrunch.com)
TechCrunch gets a zipped file with 310 Twitter documents (TechCrunch.com)
Update: TechCrunch publishes a Twitter financial forecast document from February 2009 (TechCrunch.com)
So there. That’s the story so far. Wow. I just read it again. I’m not sure if this is the work of one hacker or several. The screenshots don’t look shop’d. Either way, I feel very badly for Ev. Having your account hacked is one thing, but his wife’s account was also hacked. It sucks when people target your family. And it looks like Hacker Croll was able to gain all of this access by correctly guessing passwords and security questions for email accounts. Hacker Croll certainly has some skills. From Hacker Croll:
What I would like to say is that even the biggest and the strongest do silly things without realizing it and I hope that my action will help them to realize that nobody is safe on the net. If I did this it’s to educate those people who feel more secure than simple Internet novices. And security starts with simple things like secret questions because many people don’t realise the impact of these question on their life if somebody is able to crack them.
How do you protect against someone being able to socially engineer their way into your account? I guess Ev, his family and the Twitter employees will have to take extra steps at security for their personal email accounts. It sucks for them, but they’ll come out of this stronger. God luck, Ev. You’ve got my support.
Remember Twitter? It was growing by leaps and bounds earlier this year. In May, that growth flattened out. But now, according to Compete.com, Twitter is back in style for unique visitors. (Source)
Personally, I believe some of this growth can be attributed to Michael Jackson’s death. MJ’s death was the most viral social phenomenon we have ever seen. It was setting records for search on Yahoo, and Twitter also reported some amazing stats during the days after the King of Pop’s death. Would it make sense that more people flocked to Twitter for MJ news and messages? Did more people join Twitter just so they could be part of the circus that followed the death of arguably the most famous entertainer in the world? I think so, but I could be wrong. And I’m not saying that MJ’s death contributed to all of this growth, but I do think it’s a big factor in the growth. Just sayin’ is all…
Notice something different? Look closely and you’ll see the new option to receive an email notification whenever another Facebook user “Connects to me as a fan.” In other words, Facebook followers, here we come.
Facebook has a long way to go, but I think they are on track to become the clear winner in the long run. I do not believe that Twitter will completely go away or throw up a white flag. I do believe that Twitter will be around for a while, but by following Twitter’s lead (no pun intended), Facebook may one day have a clear upper hand in the microblog/status feed market.
What is a verified account?
To prevent identity confusion, Twitter is experimenting (beta testing) with a ‘Verified Account’ feature. We’re working to establish authenticity with people who deal with impersonation or identity confusion on a regular basis.
Great! Twitter is going to let me verify my account, so people know that it’s really me? Oh wait a minute. Crap. It’s not going to work for common folk like me. In their words, the Twitter Verified account program is for “well-known accounts that have had problems with impersonation or identity confusion. (For example, well-known artists, athletes, actors, public officials, and public agencies).” Oh awesome. Celebrities get even more privileges. What about us commoners, huh? What about us?
In all seriousness, this program is probably a great way to start dealing with the impersonation problems inherent in Twitter. Twitter is a kinda like the Myspace of micro-blogging. It’s so cool, and you can get a ton of followers/friends, many of whom you might not even know. But the bad part is that you really have no idea if the account is legitimately owned, managed and/or updated by the person you think it is. I mean, is that really Britney’s Twitter account? Really? How can you even tell? And then it starts feeling kinda slimy when some dude you don’t even know starts to follow your updates. It’s not as bad as Myspace, but it could be. And hopefully it won’t be. Because MySpace is soooo 2007.
Hopefully, the Twitter Verified Account program will begin to clean up Twitter’s impersonation issues. And then maybe Twitter can address all of the username squatters in a constructive manner. Or maybe they can address the recent study that shows 90% of tweets are made by 10% of Twitter users (link). Or maybe they can begin to address the reason behind roughly 80% of Twitter users only posting 0-9 times and then never returning(link). Just saying is all…
The Twitter Verified Account page goes on to clarify that, at this time, the Twitter verification service is not available for businesses. Well that sucks. I have big name clients who would love to verify their site. Customers want to know that they are dealing with the official Twitter page for Brand X. Why not open this Verified Account service up to brands? Oh yeah. Admittedly, it’s a time and resource issue (FYI: Twitter only has 58 employees right now).
Honestly, I’m just happy they created this service at all. Hopefully it’s the start of a glorious campaign to verify user accounts and corporate/brand accounts. I know there are a ton of brand on Twitter, doing their best to actively use Twitter to market their products. So c’mon, Twitter. I applaud Verified Account initiative, but please give us some brand support soon.
Okay. I have a confession to make. I have taken part in Twitter Squatting. For those of you not familiar with squatting, let’s go to our friends at Wikipedia for a definition. According to Wikipedia:
Squatting is the act of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use.
People have been squatting on internet domains since the beginning of the internet. There is awesome money in this industry. For example, toys.com just sold for $5.1 million. eToys.com had that domain since the late 1990s, but they were just redirecting it to etoys.com. I guess eToys.com decided that it could raise some capital by selling toys.com. And it turns out that Toys R Us and domain holding company National A-1 started a bidding war for this domain. $5.1 million later, Toys R Us now owns this awesome, 4-letter, generic keyword domain that is most associated with their brand. But wait. There are more of these domains being parked right now. Just take a look at www.kbtoys.com. It’s parked, and I’m sure those domainers are just waiting for the right time to sell. Or they are making money from direct navigation ad revenue. [That industry is a huge industry right now. Apparently, direct navigation is a popular form of internet surfing. If someone directly navigates to toys.com, they are easily a pre-qualified visitor, and I bet you can guess what they are looking for. So there has gotta be money in that industry. But I digress…]
How does all of this relate to Twitter? Well, let me tell you that right now there are a lot of major brands running to Twitter to open accounts. (Personally I believe that this trend was motivated by John Stewart’s Twitter bit on the Daily Show and politicians tweeting during Obama’s first Presidential Address to the nation.) If major brands are flocking to Twitter, you can be certain that most Twitter URLs are already snatched up. Or are they? Typically, major brands are always late to the game when it comes to internet happenings. According to some recent numbers I saw on the web, Twitter has over 6 million members. Surely there are some internet savvy domainers who have acquired some awesome brand names and generic keyword URLs on Twitter. Even though twitter launched nearly 2 years ago, there is a good chance that there are a lot of great usernames and URLs still available.
Here is a screenshot of the apple username on Twitter. It’s suspicious. 360 followers. Following zero. Bio: apple dot twitter @gmail dot com. That looks like someone wants some money. There are definitely some awesome URLs that are being squatted on. Perhaps these brands have great marketing experts who rushed to Twitter to grab a username, or perhaps someone beat them to the punch. While I can’t definitively say whether or not these URLs belong to the respective brands, here are some mostly-vacant Twitter accounts that appear to be owned by someone other than a brand representative. These are extremely valuable URLs:
Like all SEOs out there, I have a niche on the internet. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will tell you that I recently got into Twitter squatting. I mean, c’mon. There has been more Twitter hype in the past week than anything I can remember in the past few years. Some people are even saying that Twitter will become a search engine that could rival Google. For the record, I’m still very skeptical at the future of Twitter as a search engine or even as a marketing tool because I know that a lot brands are scaling back and cutting costs in this economy. I’m not entirely certain that major brands will hire anyone to manage their Twitter account. And I’m not sure that SEM agencies know how to manage Twitter accounts. However, I do think that Twitter will become a valuable place of instant, real-time reviews. If brands don’t have Twitter accounts, they should at least pay attention to what’s being said about them and/or their products on Twitter.
Anyways, I went at this squatting process very haphazardly. And I paid the price for it: Suspended Accounts. In my efforts, I learned some stuff that you might be able to benefit from. Here are some tips for avoiding account suspension on Twitter:
Email Address Option
Fake Email Addresses
Twitter doesn’t send email validations at this point. When you sign up for an account, all they do is send you a message that says something like “Welcoming you to Twitter.” This means that you could sign up for accounts with fake email addresses. For example, if signing up for twitter.com/ford, why not tell them your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org? Perhaps this would make your account look more official. The downside to this is that you’d have no way of checking the email address. If someone wanted to purchase the URL, they would have to contact you through Twitter. And that’s probably how they’d get reach of you anyway. Or you could post your real email addy on the page (like the twitter.com/apple person does). Either way, this option may look more valid if a Twitter employee started digging into your account, but this method could get hairy if Twitter started sending out email validation messages.
Using a + in your actual email address.
My recommendation is to use a unique email address if you can. However, if you are squatting on 100 Twitter URLs, it can be real hassle creating all those email addresses and then checking them. Another awesome alternative is to use 1 email address for every account. How do you do that? It sounds too good to be true. It’s actually simple. Let’s say you sign up with your main email address. For this example, let’s say your email address is email@example.com, and you already have a Twitter account at that email address. For your next Twitter account (let’s say it’s going to be twitter.com/apple), sign up for this account with this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will get a Twitter email sent to your email@example.com account. It’s awesome. It may not last too much longer, but it works now. If you can keep track of all your squatted Twitter accounts, this method will allow you to keep all your Twitter emails consolidated in one mailbox. I recommend gmail.
Immediately update your profile and post a tweet.
I have a Twitter account (twitter.com/yourseosucks). I signed up for it one day. The next day I came back to update it with a new icon picture, and my account was suspended. I had no intention of doing anything unethical with my account. I’m not spamming. I’m not trying to game the system. I’m not trying to make money with this account in any way. I have zero followers. I’m not following anyone yet. I don’t even have an outbound link on my profile. I’ve even seen other accounts with the word sucks in the URL, and they haven’t been suspended (proof). But something triggered a red flag in the Twitter algorithm for my account. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It wasn’t like I was posing as the Dalia Lama. At any rate, maybe this post is my revenge. After this post I’m not counting on regaining access to my Twitter account. Regardless, I believe that there are a lot of people out there who are starting to squat on Twitter URLs. And these people are being suspended rather quickly. From some simple research, conducted by direct navigation, it’s easy to find suspended accounts. For example, these accounts have all been suspended:
Now, I don’t know if those accounts were ever being used as legitimate Twitter profiles. It could be that those accounts were being updated on a regular basis, and they were flagged by mistake. However, given their respective popularity in terms of keywords, I suspect that at least a few of them were being squatted on. I have signed up for several Twitter accounts with valuable keywords, and over half of them have been suspended. One thing that I noticed was: accounts where I updated all the profile information and posted a tweet were not suspended. None. I can’t say that it happens that way all the time, but I do recommend updating your profile, adding a picture and posting a tweet when you first sign up for the account.
The truth is that I have no idea how often you’re supposed to tweet in order to avoid suspension. If you are tweeting simply to avoid a suspended account, you’re probably not using Twitter as it was intended to be used. (BTW, we’d probably be friends.) But here’s the deal: If you are squatting on several accounts, it can be a real hassle to sign in and out to multiple accounts every day. But it’s all good because of an app called Twhirl. This desktop app enables you to sign in to multiple accounts and keep them active on your desktop. If you have the privilege of sitting at a computer all day long, it’s very easy to just open the window once a day and type something. Twhirl is kinda like an instant messenger interface for Twitter. I totally recommend it. You should definitely be updating your profile once a day. But you if you want to take your chances and not update your account very often, I won’t argue with you, as there are several accounts that have not been suspended despite zero updates (proof, proof, proof).
Follow and Be Followed, but watch your Followers-to-Following Ratio
Have you ever seen Rand’s Twitter account? He has 5,000+ followers, but he only follows 11 people. (It’s very well documented by the Oilman.) Rand’s followers:following ratio is very imbalanced (like Fox news). I’m sure Rand gets tons of love from the Twitter founders, so his account is not in any danger of being suspended. But if you are squatting on an account and happen to get some followers, you may consider following some people in order to keep that ratio looking natural. In the end, a legitimate Twitter account will have >0 following and >0 followers. Just keep it looking natural.
Don’t get too big too quickly
That’s what she said? Twitter is not a race to see who can have the most followers. Just like myspace friend bots, there are bots running all through Twitter, helping people build their follower numbers. Just like anything else in SEO, I prefer organic growth. Make it look natural. If you set up and account and then you get 300 followers in the first day, you’ll probably be flagged for something. Keep it natural. Keep it organic. [Note: If you do happen to start getting a lot of followers because you just happen to grab a highly-coveted username for a major brand, you may consider making some legitimate, brand-relevant posts. You’re not necessarily trying to pose as the brand, but the last thing you need is followers starting to block you. Don’t do anything that will look like actual spam. Users will block you, and enough blocks can cause flags to go up.]
Creating Hundreds of Accounts? Use a Proxy.
Remember: the guys who started Twitter also started Blogger. If they know anything about spam, they know how to recognize massive account creation from the same IP address. Get a reliable proxy. And don’t ask me for proxy lists. I don’t know anything about that. 😉
Don’t Even Try to Impersonate People. It’s probably not very profitable.
At one point, I got a great idea: I’ll snap up some usernames of famous dead people. And then I didn’t follow any of the recommendations mentioned in this post, so all my accounts got suspended. I thought it would be really fun to have a twitter account for a famous, polarizing athlete, musician or public figure. However, after thinking about it further, there’s probably nothing that will get you suspended quicker than trying to impersonate someone. Granted, a dead guy/girl is probably not going to contact twitter, but his/her estate might. In the end, if you’re trying to impersonate someone, just be prepared to lose everything without warning. Which is more likely to happen: a person pays you for the account or a person contacts twitter about your account and your account gets suspended? Also, I don’t believe impersonation is worth the effort in terms of money. I mean, I guess the guy who got gandhi could make some money if he ever updated it. Maybe he could sell some links to fasting websites. Or the jimihendrix account could have some links to Fender guitars. I dunno. In the end, if you can create a good following, I guess anything is profitable. But in terms of squatting, you’re better off grabbing brand names and generic keywords that will attract money from brands, ecommerce sites or companies who just want more web exposure with an easy-to-remember URL.
Don’t link to or follow spam accounts
Just like SEO in the good ol’ days, you don’t want to be following accounts that are part of a “bad neighborhood.” It’s pretty easy to tell whether or not an account is a legitimate account. Just do some checking before you follow someone. Also, check on some of the people who are following you. The last thing you need is to be classified as a member of a ring of suspicious or suspended accounts.
Familiarize Yourself with the Twitter Suspended Accounts Criteria This page is very informative. Read it. I had to learn a lot of these lessons before I found this page. If you can’t follow link, here are the main bullet points from that page at Twitter. Here are several reasons why your account might be suspended:
unauthorized scripting of the site
unauthorized serial account creation
unauthorized mass account creation
user name squatting
account contains links pointing to phishing sites, malware, or other harmful material
an account is identified as belonging to a group of spam accounts
a large number of people block the profile in question
a large number of people write in with spam complaints for a specific profile
aggressive following (a large number of people are followed in a short amount of time)
extremely imbalanced follower/following ratio
updates consist of duplicate or repeating links and/or text
updates consist mainly of links and not personal updates
links in updates disguise the real content of a link given in a misleading or deceptive way.
unauthorized “re-tweets” (poaching and posting other users’ updates) passed off as original content*
Copyright Infringement (To file a complaint, see our copyright infringement procedure here.)
Violence and/or specific threats
Some of this stuff frightens me. Copyright Infringement? Does that mean I can’t hold a brandname hostage on Twitter. If I scored a major brand name, can that brand bully me into giving it up? That would suck. User name squatting? That’s the whole purpose of this post. I can’t believe it’s frowned upon. Damn.
There you have it. I pretty much listed the Twitter guidelines. Oh well. If I was awesome at lists, I’d have to round this list out at 10. But I think 9 is a good number. Last week was 3/3/09. So maybe this is my tribute to Square Root Day. Or maybe not. Either way, happy twitter squatting.
And just because I’ve been hearing about someone buying Twitter, I thought I’d post this picture of the Twitter Whale (aka the Fail Whale). Maybe if someone bought Twitter, they could afford some better servers. Just saying is all.
Apparently, the White House has invited a bunch of young business leaders. Twitter’s co-founder, Evan Williams, was one of those people invited to discuss the current economic crisis. Evan Williams has tons of money. He worked at Google before the PPO, and he sold Blogger to Google. I don’t even think that Twitter is making any money right now in the US. This article says that they make some money on ads in Japan. But who would turn down a trip to the White House? Not the Twitter guys. From’s Evan’s Twitter account: “must mean they’re *really* out of ideas.” More here.