The future in search appears to be how real-time data is going to be accessed by users. Twitter is at the forefront of this with its enormous feed of status updates from its users.
As we speak, the data is being parsed by hundreds of websites that use the Twitter API. This data is manipulated in many different ways. However, there is one way to search this data that will always be true, keywords.
We all know how important keywords are in content thanks to Google. Twitter is teaching us how important these keywords are in our Tweets. Relationships are created via the keywords that are in the Tweets and people are finding Tweets based on those keyword searches.
There are two types of keywords on Twitter.
The first is actual keywords as you imagine them, such as “seo” and then the hash tag version of keyword, such as “#seo”.
The first version, the actual keyword, is where I believe the future of Twitter exists. Let us take Google as an example. As we all know, arguably, meta data holds very little to no weight with Google (specifically the meta keywords). Hash tags are essentially meta keywords.
But for this particular article, I will focus on the first version of a keyword (without hash tags). I will address hash tags in depth in a following article.
The future of keywords on Twitter.
In a character constrained world, timing and placement is everything. That is to say that where and how you use keywords in your Tweets is important.
There are a few things you must remember when using keywords on Twitter:
- Twitter search has problems with punctuation.
On more than one occasion, I have witnessed an exclamation point next to a keyword be picked up as part of the keyword. e.g. “apples!” Which means I did not show up for that search (apples) because I placed my intended keyword next to punctuation (in this case, an exclamation point). I would expect this to be fixed in the ensuing months.
- Twitter uses absolute match.
A search for “apple” will not yield results for “apples” and vice versa. Due to this, it is important to use different variations of a keyword in a tweet if it applies.
- Word recognition.
Twitter currently does not have the ability to understand that “closetdoor” is two words. It also does not understand misspelled words. However, “closetdoor” will show in search results for “closet”.
- Shortened URLs are fair game for keywords.
I recently did research into shortened URLs and found that keywords located in the shortened urls are as important as keywords in the Tweet, arguably more.
- Timing is everything.
In the real-time search world, the timing of your tweet is critical. This could be why popular tweeters blast out 5-10 tweets simultaneously at peak hours.
Google has spoiled us with their search capabilities.
When something like Twitter comes along and produces results that aren’t exactly what we are looking for even if it is showing results for exactly what we searched for, it makes us realize how good we had it with Google. Google was once explained to me as, “They just know what I am looking for.”.
This is why I believe the future is in natural keywords in the tweets. Soon Twitter will not need us to tell them which keywords are important with a hash, they will just know. I may be giving them too much credit and over-simplifying search, but Twitter will become better at search either by themselves or opening up their data to someone such as Google.
Food For Thought
If you’re open to a new URL shortener, take a gander at http://9mp.com/branding.php. It explains how you can utilize keywords in a shortened URL.
As I stated earlier, I have noticed popular Twitterers are using software that schedule their Tweets. It is conceivable how releasing 5 tweets targetted at certain keywords could put the tweets at the top of search results for a short period of time, thus driving massive traffic. I have not personally used http://TweetLater.com, but I have had it recommended to me.
If you have any additional suggestions or experience with anything mentioned in this article, please feel free to leave a comment so that we can start a dialogue.