Search engine optimization (SEO) reminds me of all that footage I watched on "Wild Kingdom" as a kid. Just when the hungry lion thinks it's about to catch the gazelle, the damned thing pulls away. Or it suddenly changes direction, leaving the lion's jaws snapping at air. Sometimes the lion even looks a little confused when it catches the gazelle, as if it doesn't exactly know what to do with it.
By the time an SEO technique becomes successful enough for you -- or the consultants you've hired -- to hear about it, chances are Google will change its algorithms so that you can't benefit from it as much as you'd hoped.
There's a lot of hubbub over which parties will benefit the most when real-time updates from Twitter and Facebook are incorporated into Google and Microsoft Bing search results. But what will it mean for businesses and their SEO strategies? The Altimeter Group's Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang have a nice take on this, noting that for the first time, consumers will be able to influence search results. They write:
Although companies spend thousands of marketing dollars controlling their search results by using Google's advertising services, customers and competitors can quickly and cheaply impact search results using simple tools like Twitter. Consumers, empowered using mobile devices as a publishing platform can link to content and influence search results. Now, a simple tweet with a picture of a plane landing on the Hudson from a mobile phone will show up at the top of search results.
This is a real kick in the pants for companies who are already seeing some consumer videos on YouTube and unofficial fan pages on Facebook generate more buzz than their corporate marketing efforts. Thankfully, Li and Owyang offer some tips for adding social media to your SEO strategies:
Microsoft's and Google's decision to include real-time information from social channels in search results means companies definitely can't afford to ignore consumers' rants and raves on social media, despite the opinions of such smart folks as Tom Foremski and Mark Cuban that this information is too ephemeral to matter much.