It's no secret that Google delivers personalized search results on a user-by-user basis. In fact, software engineer Bryan Horling reportedly said at SMX West in Santa Clara that Google personalizes as much as 20 percent of any user's web searches, which would be one in five searches. One way that Google personalizes search results is with its social search feature, which it launched in January. At SMX, WebProNews discussed this feature with Google's Johanna Wright.
If you follow the search industry very closely, you are probably aware of what social search does, but in case you're not, it simply injects content from people within your "social circle" into your search results for relevant queries. For example, if you searched for "iPad," and you had a friend who recently posted an iPad review to his/her blog, there is a good chance that would show up on the first page of your results. This is Google's way of placing relevance on who you know. If you know someone, you're more likely to trust their content than that of a stranger (or at least trust yourself on whether or not to trust them).
WebProNews asked Wright what kind of implications social search has for marketers. She says there aren't many, but she would give more general tips like making good content people want to read, following Google's webmaster guidelines, and using webmaster tools to make sure you're indexed. She did also suggest going to code.google.com and checking out Google's Social Graph API if you have social elements on your own site. That is explained in the following clip.
When Google's social search launched, I recommended businesses consider the following tips, as social search could be considered just another part of your social media marketing strategy. It means staying connected with customers.
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).
Probably the most important thing to remember here is that people are always likely to be seeing different search results when they perform searches on Google. Getting good rankings just isn't as cut and dry as it used to be. Social search is only one way Google personalizes search results. Location is another. I would expect Google to continue looking at ways to make results more relevant to individual users as time goes on.
Do you take social search into consideration for your strategy? Discuss this here.