Even as users still question whether real-time is just a passing fad or a really transforming path, I think the future is clear: real-time’s most impact will be on search.
And Google is showing up signs of distress.
First they tried to buy Twitter. That was the best move they could’ve tried. Unfortunately its founders were not impressed and really believed in their company. Reportedly they said they wouldn’t sell for a billion dollars.
Google could just scoff and carry on, right? Wrong. They need real-time because that’s where search is moving.
In the past (like in the late last century) people would look for content using keywords that were present on pages. Google designed and optimized ways for people to reach those pages based on those keywords.
Today, people ask their followers or search for mentions of those keywords on the Twitter firehose. SEO is now effectively word of mouth. Social Search is here.
It’s a whole different game, and the problem is that Google’s livelihood is at stake here.
Sure, they got all these other products like Gmail and Maps, but search is their bread and butter and where they make most of their money thanks to those two satellite services Adwords and Adsense.
Just this week they’ve released two announcements to try and echo to the world that they’re all over Social Search. I think this is the right direction, but so far Google has not been very efficient in the social arena.
Google can’t risk to be dethroned from its Search leadership by some small startups (like they did themselves to the top players 10 or so years ago), so they are going to have to really think hard (or acquire someone) to get back into this game.
This, of course, is also a wake up call for SEO consultants. It’s time to shift focus to tools like Radian6. And brands wanting to score better on search better start listening to their customers and creating communities around them.
Otherwise they’ll end up like the famous Wicked Witch of the East (thanks John).
Photo from Lucy the Blog