Google Makes Social Networking a Must

By Maureen Alley

At the end of 2009, Google announced that it was going to start indexing Twitter as well as adding real-time activity into search results. These two announcements make participation on the real-time Web more important than ever. Why? Because Google is the number-one search engine, with 65.2 percent of all searches in February 2010 alone, according to The Nielsen Co. If you’re not tweeting or using Twitter correctly, then you’re missing out on appearing in this new scope of search results.

Need convincing? The amount of time users spend (5.5 hours) on Facebook and Twitter grew 82 percent from December 2008 to December 2009, according to Nielsen. In addition, Nielsen reports Twitter increased unique visitors by 579 percent, with 18.1 million unique visitors from December 2008 to December 2009. These are massive numbers that you can’t ignore, and numbers that Google is no longer ignoring.

But simply using social networking sites like Twitter isn’t enough — especially if Google is indexing your Twitter profile. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re using the medium correctly and taking full advantage of Google’s index.

1. Tweet info your readers want and need. If you wrote a new article that is timely, tweet it. If there’s breaking news in your industry, tweet it.

2. Use reporting for the links in your tweets. There are many URL shorteners that include analytics and reporting. Take advantage of these free tools to watch what works on Twitter and what doesn’t. Ow.ly, Bit.ly, and Goo.gl (owned by Google) are just three of many on the Web.
3. Add personality. People like to see that a person is behind the tweets. Put your picture as the Twitter avatar. Or if you put the magazine’s logo as the avatar, make sure it’s clear in your tweets that there’s a person behind the information. Add commentary and interest.
4. Be involved. Listen to what others are saying and get involved in the conversation. Think of it as networking at a trade show event and making connections.

5. Take advantage of Twitter’s consumer relations capabilities. Sign up for TweetBeep.com or a similar tool so you get notifications when someone tweets about you. Then respond to them.

By following these few tips, you’ll make your online presence stronger, appear in Google results with quality information, and become a stronger asset to your industry. Remember: Your online presence should be just as important as your brand’s presence at trade shows.

Maureen Alley was formerly managing editor for Website Magazine, and Residential Design & Build magazine. She recently resigned from her position at Website Magazine to move closer to family in Madison, Wis. and is looking for a full-time position. Feel free to contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com or visit www.maureenalley.com.
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