Travel companies that dismissed micro-blogging service Twitter (”Why do I want to know if someone is eating a bagel or not?”) may well be rethinking their strategy this morning.
Bing has a rudimentary service up and running already. Google’s integration is expected to begin over the coming weeks. Facebook status updates are likely, too. So what?
These series of announcements are more than fuel for the watercooler conversations for the Silicon Valleyites and wider digerati.
For travel and its relationship with search, indexing of live Twitter and Facebook updates will trigger a seismic shift – once again – in how travel companies think about SEO and social media.
Take the Google-Twitter deal as an example.
It is unclear as yet how Google will index and rank the stream from Twitter – but if it uses the same relevancy and linking protocols it applies at the moment to natural search, then this is a powerful change in engine’s capability.
In the past, results for a search for “Tnooz Hotel Paris” [it doesn’t exist, obviously] would probably have returned the property’s website, a TripAdvisor review, a handful of aggregator sites, an OTA or two, and maybe a blog post or forum entry in the first few pages.
But now the results may include relevant tweets from Twitter. The relevancy may be determined by how many other Twitterists have re-tweeted the post, number of inbound links from respected and page ranked authorities, number of followers for the tweeter, etc.
In one quick stroke the search engines will be including the Zeitgeist of travel: the here and now of the travel conversation or what the web community is saying about destinations, airlines, hotels, tour operators, agencies and, most importantly, the reaction to it.
If this is the case, Twitter becomes a powerful channel for travel companies and can no longer be ignored.
The sheer volume of content, cross-linking and re-tweeting would see conversations or products – in the new social world of Google or Bing – soar into search results by virtue of being active topics.
Think of Twitter’s trending topics being thrust into search results.
Some points to consider:
- For the searching-the-moment purists this is manna from heaven – finally search engines will have their finger on the pulse of the web.
- To those that despise Twitter for its lack of control and/or relevancy and/or quality, this is a dark moment. Search engine indexing mostly takes a fair degree of time to filter relevancy. By including tweets it potentially removes the current evaluation process of search?
- Reacting quickly to comments on Twitter will be more important than ever for travel brands, regardless of size and resources. There is also, for example, possibly no guarantee that a swift reaction to correct a flagrant inaccurate tweet would stop content from finding its way into search results.
- Travel companies may well possibly (if they aren’t doing so already) flood Twitter with hundreds or even thousands of messages in the hope that it ends up on an organic search result relevant to their brand.
- Good news for SEO agencies working with travel clients! Tweeting, similar to that of writing destination content, will become a fine/dark art.
- Twitter for travel brands may simply become a huge distribution network of offers and late deals, arguably destroying its “What Are You Doing?” mantra. If Travelzoo isn’t looking into this already, it should be.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most important element outcome to come from this hugely significant development for search is it appears that Twitter has finally got itself a major revenue stream, if rumours that the deals with Bing and Google were commercial arrangements.
Inoqo: is it possible to build an entire travel business based on Twitter? Welcome @GoogleTravel to Twitter Is there a Bing Travel brain drain?
Kevin May takes a closer look at the potentially significant implications on travel of the just announced deal by Twitter with Google and Bing.
The storm is certainly brewing in this hot area of real-time search and once again the landscape keeps shifting rapidly. Not the time to stand on the sidelines.