Not long ago, there was a lot of discussion about whether Facebook was taking over the hearts and minds of the next generation, where Google has owned the previous one. Much discussion ensued about whether using a search engine to find things would be easier than asking your friends. As usual, the future is more complex than we imagine, because we have all decided that the answer between text search and social networking is...both.
It reminds me a lot of the debates of the 1980s (OK, I am old) about whether hypertext or search was the right way for users (that's what we called them) to find information. What do you think was the outcome of that? Yeah, both.
Image by bmevans80 via Flickr
So, as Facebook experiments with features that people think might be the new SEO, and as Google files patents that tries to take away the human expert advantage of Facebook, a more interesting set of developments are underway in the search engines themselves.
Microsoft made a deal with Facebook to help search results rankings based on what your friends think. Both Google and Microsoft publicly acknowledge that they use Facebook and Twitter in their ranking algorithms now. Google admitting changing its algorithm to downgrade sites with bad reviews.
So, the big question is: What are you waiting for? If you were the kind of person who waited for Universal Search before you started making videos, I have a message for you. It's time to pay attention to social.
Now, I am not that kind of person. I usually start working with something as soon as I see that it has value, if only just to experiment. So, I've been in social media for years. But I do understand the other point of view, that you should wait to see if something has value before jumping into it. I admit that some of my experiments haven't worked.
So, if you've been skeptical that social media had value, that's fine. But if you spent all your walking hours staring down your search results, trying to attract more links, tweaking your titles, and otherwise obsessing about how to wring a little more Pagerank out of the Google Gods, and you're STILL wondering whether social has value...STOP WONDERING.
Links have value all by themselves, but they have more value because they are a signal to search engines that the pages they link to are of high quality. Social media activity is starting to perform that same function, not instead of links, but in addition to links. If your strategy has been to buy links or to manipulate links, now you have to manipulate social media activity, too, because Microsoft and Google are checking your homework to see if you've been cheating.
Social search is here. What are you doing about it?
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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