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Making Search More Social

What? Shifting from a “web of pages” to a “web of people,” the connections we build online through social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.) are playing a significant role in the results and rankings of regular search, as users of Google and Bing have started to see.

While Google used to feature social search results via the “realtime” category, the online activity generated by the social circle of a user is now pulled into the regular search results. This feature only works when people are logged in to their Google or Bing accounts and have linked the accounts to their social media public profiles, and allows users to bring their online friends with them as a reliable source in search results. The results display when people in your social circle “liked” the item/service you are searching for, made comments, or shared links via their profiles.

Google includes social media in search resultsBing using social media in search results

Why participate in social search? Word of mouth is a powerful force in brand recognition, which has now spread to the online world. Google and Bing have implemented this new feature based on the importance people place on their peers’ recommendations in the real world. Translating these real-world connections into the online world prove that “relevant” and “reliable” search results are no longer simply based on the content of a page on a website, but instead on the relationship of the searcher and the person who shared the content.
How to implement? The items below play an important role in how social results appear in search:

  • Make sure content/status updates are frequent and timely – news spreads fast online
  • Be a reliable and quality source by linking content to relevant articles & sources already available, as much as possible (when it helps back up & relate to the content)
  • Making content easy for others to share via the Facebook “Like” or Twitter “Tweet” buttons, for example, to help spread online word of mouth.
    Social sharing icons
  • Strive for a high quantity & quality base of followers/fans who will share your content frequently – select active people to follow who will follow you back & spread the word

Conclusion – With the growing usage and popularity of online social media, Google and Bing’s latest feature shows that users who want to stay in the game must adapt and understand the importance of pushing out quality content and making it sociable & shareable.

Sources:
“Social Signals & Search” – SMX West 2011Conference (Speakers: Mike Cassidy, Google & Paul Yiu, Bing/Microsoft)
Google Blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/update-to-google-social-search.html
Bing: http://www.discoverbing.com/Activities/SocialSearch
Facebook Open Graph: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/

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Contributed by: Selin Maurice, eStrategist, Milestone Internet Marketing

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