With MSN, Live and now Bing, Microsoft has tried to get a foothold in the search market and pull some market share away from search giant Google. But with 83% of the global market share going to Google (Bing is currently around 4%), saying it’s an uphill battle is a bit of an understatement.

However, yesterday morning at the Web 2.0 Summit, Microsoft made an exciting announcement that could not only give them a much needed advantage, but could also change search as we know it. Although it may be several weeks before we see it in action, Bing will soon be integrating real-time content from Twitter, for the first time offering data that is not available from Google.

Sadly for Microsoft, their excitement was short lived, when at 2PM, Google announced that they had also inked a deal with Twitter and would also be including their real-time data in search results.

While the race to integrate real-time data is still on, what does this mean for us? For searchers there are the obvious benefits of Twitter: instant coverage of news events, the latest reviews and recommendations, and so on. But for businesses this integration could have more profound consequences.

Up until now, some businesses have begun using Twitter as an added word of mouth marketing tool, interacting with customers, spreading the word about their business and building brand loyalty. But with this data integrated into search results, Twitter will soon become an absolute requirement in any online marketing strategy. Those that are already using Twitter may have an advantage over companies that may soon be scrambling to catch up. If you haven’t thought about how Twitter can work for you, now is the time.

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