On October 27, 2009, at
the Web 2.0 Summit in
San Francisco California,
(about the same time Google
negotiated a deal with Twitter
for a real-time feed) Google
announced the release of
their latest search feature:
Google Social Search.
Google is taking personalized
search to a
new level by adding information
Google calls your “public
social graph” and integrating
it into their
main search results.
Google is taking everything
they know about
you from your Google
profile, determining your connections with people and
websites from various social networks, and then producing
personalized search results for participants. What this means
for SEO is that all of the social media profile building you’ve
been engaged in is going to pay off in the near future —
Since Google Social Search relies on information from
your social connections and mines that data, you will
first need to opt in to the program through your Google account
at http://www.google.com/experimental/. Once opted
in, conducting a search on Google will provide two ways of
viewing Social Search results. First, at the bottom of any
regular results page you will see “Results from people in
your social circle for” where two Google Social Search listings
will be returned.
Second, if you perform a search on Google and then
select the “Show options” feature and choose “Social” you
will see the full Google Social Search results.
The argument for social search is that, because you trust
the connections you’ve established, who better to help refine
or improve results than members of your social graph?
Let’s say I’m in Chicago and thinking about heading to a
specific restaurant. I could perform a social search on
Google to view friends’ tweets on the restaurant or perhaps
a review on Yelp. This could potentially be very useful for
any buying decisions made online or offline, whether it’s
big or small.
Google Adds a Real-Time Wrinkle
Beginning in early December, 2009, Google took another giant leap by releasing
Real-Time Search. Now, for some queries, the first page of results
shows a scrolling box with real-time search results – many of which come
from users’ social updates and content. Real-time Search has major implications
and further alters the SEO landscape. Read more about this important real-time wrinkle in search and how it affects SEO.
To be seen in others’ social search results you will not
only need a Google account and profile, but also must add
links (the actual connections) within your Google Profile.
Google suggests links but you are free to add as many links
as you would like from virtually any social media, bookmarking
or networking site. Keep in mind that the more
links you add, the more exposure you might potentially receive.
The main social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook,
etc.) are an absolute must to include but also consider your
website and/or blog as one of the links.
Remember when adding these links that you are allowing
Google to track your connections on the Web. Google
might not admit it publicly but many argue the main reason
for launching Google Social Search is that it’s simply another
way to provide better ad targeting.
So how does Google Social Search tie into SEO? Assuming
Google integrates Social Search into the main
search results formally, in the future the number of online
connections you have established will directly impact the
search results. The more people following you on Twitter,
Facebook, FriendFeed, Flickr, Google Talk, or any other
significant social site, the more exposure you and your
website will receive. So how do you get proactive and take
advantage of this new potential back door to the top
of the SERPs? Keep building social networking profiles,
but start new ones if possible, and make sure they are
active and as targeted as possible. Make sure all of your
social profiles have proper links to their respective websites
and, conversely, make sure your websites promote
your social network profiles. Keep promoting your blog’s
RSS feed — as the more subscribers you have on Google
Reader, the better.
Popularity will be an important factor but trust will be
equally important. Be sure to engage your followers in order
to help build that trust. With many questioning whether or
not social media is worth all the time and effort it takes,
Google Social Search might finally provide the answer. Get
ahead of the curve now, while you still can.
About the Author:
Dante A. Monteverde is a Search
Strategist specializing in Search Engine
Spider Bait SEO in 1996 and has over 10 years of SEO experience.