Google has seen its experiment in social search produce some successful results. So successful in fact that it has now rolled the service out globally. This is partly due to Google’s own commitment to innovation and expansion, but also to keep up with the Joneses – Bing & Facebook.
It’s not hard to see how search engines will try and use social media to produce results that are more relevant and give a better overall user experience.
To recap: what is social search?
Social search is an attempt by search engines to create more relevant results by adjusting SERPs (search engine results pages) based on the activity of your online social circle.
Example – you are looking for a new mobile phone. Your search query is “smart phone sales”. Ten of your friends “like” the deal by a leading network provider and thus the results that are presented to you are ordered by the recommendations your friends have made. Their advice in taken into account when Google serves your search results.
Google will use a complex (and secret) algorithm to determine how influential social signals are on search results and they’ll still be blended with other factors.
Who will benefit from social search?
Searchers: at the end of the day, Google is using all this information to make searches more relevant, which can only be a good thing!
Marketers: but, if approached in the right way, marketers will benefit from these adjustments too. Those who already have a social strategy in place will be ahead of the pack.
How does this effect SEO ?
Search agencies are yet again facing a new challenge and another evolution in the way they help businesses climb the SEO ladder.
Social search will move the focus away from traditional SEO tactics and put additional pressure on driving discussions and engagement. Likes, +1s, mentions and retweets will be the new “link” or at a very least, an added element that will need to be a part of any SEO strategy.
In essence the thinking has to change from SEO & Social to SEOcial.
+1 vs. Like
Bing/Facebook seem to have the upper hand in this space at the moment. This is primarily based on their current commercial agreements where Facebook ‘likes’ are included in Bing searches.
But don’t discount Google yet! After waving goodbye to Wave and seeing Buzz swatted, I believe +1 is Google’s first serious move in the social arena.
+1 will not only be an onsite function, or solely attached to organic results as Google is planning to roll it out across its paid search results too. +1 is also truly international with no language barriers, unlike ‘like’. This makes the international expansion of this feature much easier.
We are getting a barrage of queries from our clients about +1s and social search, which in itself shows how this move could see significant take-up by marketers and the wider public very quickly.
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