Google has started rolling out real time search, which has far-reaching implications for brand reputation monitoring and SEO, particularly for those brands that up to now have largely ignored social media. Those brands that dismiss the need to monitor their online presence, or are just not well equipped to do so could quickly start to see unfortunate results – just ask Tiger Woods. With the inclusion of live Twitter streams in the natural SERPs, brand reputation has never been so important.
Folks who are just Googling for a brand are soon going to know all about the current hot issue for that company, good or bad, live from the people who matter – the actual end users, the customers. One entry into the search box will bring up everything you need to know, and you won’t have to search Twitter for more personal opinions and anecdotal evidence before you choose to buy or book.
Now it’s more crucial than ever to have constant monitoring for potentially tricky situations. Brands need to be ready with quick responses, information and, where possible, solutions and apologies to combat a potential wave of negativity that could spring from one tweet or blog post.
The Carphone Warehouse, Europe’s leading independent retailer of mobile phones and services, has already bought into this: It says, “I’m sorry” when necessary on its Twitter page to customers who tweet about poor service or products.
If I post unfavourably about a new restaurant I visited from my iPhone, enraged and disappointed, and my followers and the Brighton feed retweet this, it auto-updates my Facebook status too, and my friends share this info, and then that starts showing at number one on Google, that’s something the restaurant needs to know about and be prepared to respond to, no matter how many ads they have in the local listings mag or how many leaflets they have dropped around town. They would be better off using their marketing budget to employ someone like Pizza Hut’s Twintern or task their SEO/ social media agency to respond to customer feedback, good and bad, online, before it becomes a major, brand destroying issue.
Of course it would be better if they had sorted their lousy service out at the time before I vented my spleen online, so maybe this move by Google could have even more far-reaching effects on the way customers are treated. Prevention is always better than cure.
Further reading and opinion:
Some of the UK’s search and social media experts have already started to share their opinions on how Google’s real time search will affect brands and SEO including Henry Ellis, Head of Social Media at Tamar, and Dave Wilding, Senior SEO Analyst at Epiphany.
See also Mashable