If you are one of those people still skeptical about the business uses of social media, you may be interested to know that Google's Social Search is no longer just an experiment. Though it does have the beta tag on it, it is now mainstream. This is something we've all known would come sooner or later, but now it's here.
Have you established enough connections to do well in social search? Comment here.
If people were already seeing different search results from one another before, that is really going to be true now, now that Google is plugging results based on the individual's social circle into any given SERP. This is one of the many ways SEO is changing, and it would appear that any business looking to get some play in Google search, would do well to have as many connections established as possible, via various social networking sites and tools.
Keep in mind that the social circle is based upon information that Google has about you from your Google account. You can see your list of connections anytime from here (assuming you have a Google account). It pulls connections from your Google Contacts, and any services you have listed on your Google profile (assuming you have services listed on your profile). If you have Twitter listed for example (Facebook connections are not public), anyone you are connected to through one of those services is fair game for potential search results.
Google's thinking is that if the user is connected to certain people, results from those people will have relevance because you know and trust them. Google says, "You can improve social search results for your friends and contacts by linking to content you have created such as blogs, photos and videos on your Google profile."
"We've been having a lot of fun with Social Search. It's baby season here on our team — two of us just had little ones, and a third is on the way," the company says in the announcement. "We're all getting ready to be parents for the first time and we have lots of questions. So, what do we do? We search Google, of course! With Social Search, when we search for [baby sleep patterns], [swaddling] or [best cribs], not only do we get the usual websites with expert opinions, we also find relevant pages from our friends and contacts. For example, if one of my friends has written a blog where he talks about a great baby shop he found in Mountain View, this might appear in my social results. I could probably find other reviews, but my friend's blog is more relevant because I know and trust the author."
Appearing in social search results means:
1. Make sure you have all of your important links on your Google Profile.
2. Make as many connections as possible.
3. Encourage customers to follow you via social networks.
4. Participate in social media so people will engage with you.
5. Encourage sharing of content (there are plenty available social media buttons)
6. Include social network info on business cards/signage, etc.
7. Include social network info in your online advertising
8. There are probably many more worthwhile tips (if you have any, share them in the comments).
Google's social search doesn't end with regular web search. They're adding it to image search, and who knows what else. Look for a lot more features to become part of social search, as Google leaves that Beta tag on. Let's not forget that Gmail only left beta last year, and I don't have to tell you they've added a lot to that over the years.
Just remember that social results will always be clearly marked as such on Google's SERPs. They will be accompanied by a heading that says "Results from your social circle". Still, for traditional SEO it is just one more thing to compete with as far as page real estate. That's why social is a much more of an important part of search than ever.
Google has been making many moves over the last couple years that seem to slowly turn it more and more into its own social network. Now that its profiles have a direct impact on search results, how people view Google in this light is likely to change significantly. Once more and more average users start to realize the social features are being integrated more into their everyday searches, they may find themselves getting sucked into using Google as more of a social tool, as opposed to just search.
What are your thoughts on Google's social search? Discuss here.