Twitter celebrities and their impact on search

Read the original post published on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog on May 6, 2011.

Last month, I wrote a post on how businesses can look to Twitter celebrities as positive role models for improving their social media practices. These celebrities are shining on Twitter in an honest, connected, communicative way and all business professionals can learn a thing or two about social networking from following them.

But what about the impact these celebrities can have on search engine marketing? How can their viewpoints affect search rankings, referrals and on-going traffic? Or do they not have an impact at all?

Working in search engine optimization, I’m always looking for a way to integrate search and social for the greater benefit. And an integrated campaign can have a greater overall benefit to your marketing program. Even the search engines are moving toward a social future, proving that integrating all aspects of online and offline marketing can have a greater impact.

Google, in particular, has been experimenting with social media for quite a while. The recent announcement of the +1 button and its recently revamped social search just proves that the combination of the two media is going to hit the mainstream soon.

As mentioned in a previous Great Finds blog post, Google’s social search pulls in Twitter share data and displays it under the search results. So, if you’re logged in to your Google account and it’s connected to your Twitter account, you’ll see which members of your Twitter network have shared the results.

For example, if I’m searching for information on a reputable Japan disaster relief fund, and I see that Alyssa Milano shared one of the organizations on her Twitter account, I’m more likely to click on that result. I trust her tweets, I value her opinion, and I know she cares enough not to send out links to bogus organizations.

Likewise, if Ms. Milano takes a liking to a business or organization and begins tweeting links to its site regularly, that site can potentially start seeing some increases in their overall search rankings – not to mention the search rankings of the people who include Alyssa Milano as part of their network.

And along with this increase in search engine rankings comes an increase in search referrals and on-going traffic. Now more people are going to click on these results, not only because a reputable celebrity has shared it, but because it is also ranking higher. This type of traffic combined with the support from a celeb like Alyssa Milano will help maintain on-going traffic for the business in the long run.

Alyssa Milano is very vocal about her support of many charitable organizations through her Twitter account. Other celebrities use Twitter just as effectively to promote some of their work in the pop culture sector. Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most vocal and interactive Twitter users out there, and he loves promoting the world of basketball. During March Madness, he would talk about making a “Shaqet” and sharing links to online television sites for users to watch the college basketball tournament and listen to Shaq’s live commentary.

Because of his effort, an individual could be performing searches for online basketball game viewing and have seen Shaq’s shared links show up higher in his search results. Then, because Shaq and his recommendations are trusted, the same individual would click on the link to watch the game, giving more traffic to the site as a whole.

Brands across the board can make use these ideas and practices. Being able to connect with the brand both on Twitter and in organic search results can have a positive impact on the brand itself. Creating and sharing content is a great way to connect with your customers and influence the results they click on in the search engine page results (SERPs)

When this content is shared, the amount of Twitter shares can potentially rank those pages higher in the SERPs. And, if customers know and trust your brand and they see that you shared an informational piece on your blog, they will probably click on it. Not only can Twitter affect your site’s rankings, but Twitter can also affect the amount and value of the click-throughs your site receives. Now you’re earning more organic traffic for your site, and your brand can see a greater boost in overall sales.

Not to mention the increased authority and brand presence it’ll see through effective Twitter networking.

It will be interesting seeing where the combination of search and social lead, but at least one thing is for certain: celebrities and businesses alike will always look for a way to connect with those who can improve their brands. Twitter is an excellent way to do just that, and businesses can look to successful accounts for answers to improving their reach and their message’s effectiveness.

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