Last week Google announced an official update to Social Search – something they’ve been playing around with for some time now. The idea behind social search is that if a Google account user does a search for something they will get the most relevant results according to Google now mixed in with results that Google determines are important from those in your social networks.
The news for anyone thinking about SEO is summed by this statement from Google – . . .relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships. Google has officially moved from playing with social search to altering the SEO landscape with it.
While the newly socialized results are dependent upon the surfer being logged in to their Google account, the significance from an SEO standpoint is potentially game changing. As Google continues to advance this type of thinking when it comes to placement of search results it will bring the online acts of content creation, network building and social participation to new heights.
Consider the images below – the first is a search for the term “social media system” while logged out of Google and second while logged in. The results are dramatically different. (Click to enlarge)
I’ve been begging and pleading with small business owners for the last five years to create and use blogs, claim all the digital real estate and profiles they could and get active building social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. While this is behavior that has long influenced organic search results in a more mathematical way, social search highlights the direct impact this behavior has in ways that should open some eyes.
The good news is that people that have participated fully in social media, network building and content creation may have just received a very positive jolt in the search game. There is still time to adopt this behavior because it may be years before this social search function becomes fully realized, but there’s no way to deny the need to make online network building and participation a primary business practice.
Now, this doesn’t mean that good SEO practices of link building and content creation around keywords goes out the window – those factors will remain extremely important, but social network participation just got a raise in terms of becoming a ranking factor that isn’t controlled by traditional SEO practices.
Here are a couple unscientific initial thoughts:
- You can’t play without a Google Profile – if you have one go update it now and add more connections
- Sharing content from your Google Reader account seems to get high marks right now
- Twitter results are being adding pretty quickly
- With Google and Facebook locked in war for social, don’t expect Facebook results to matter as much
You connect accounts that you want to be part of your public profile using the Google Profile tool, but you can also connect account privately through your Google Account. (Google is choosing your networks through the Social Graph tool.)
Results will be spotty and odd for some time now, but it’s still time to rethink your entire approach to SEO.