Quicktake: The Impacts Of Google’s Social Search

Currently, search results serve up content that is popular –but not necessarily content that is accurate or relevant to your needs. With Google’s Social Search feature, it will serve up results based on a users’ specific contact list, here’s how it works:

Using the recently launched Google Profile product, users will be able to add their name, then list out the various social networks they are part of. Google goes to work and finds out who’s your friend in those social networks, then applies it to it’s search algorithm. The end result? Search queries now serve up results based on your friends experiences, even in local markets.

The Impacts Of Google’s Social Search to Web Strategists

  • Social search empowers customers over search marketers. With consumers influencing each other in search results, this diminishes the power of traditional search marketing as people can lean on each other. We saw this in PR, journalism, and other industries, this is just a continuing trend.
  • To regain power, brands must focus on advocacy programs. If consumers will lean on each other to make decisions in search results, brands must become a platform for their top customers. Learn how to build an advocacy program using this checklist.
  • Encourage word of mouth by requesting online reviews and feedback Since users will gradually rely on their friends for recommendation in social search, advocacy programs will need to be bolstered by word of mouth programs. Brands should encourage word of mouth by making it easy to review products, encourage customers to give feedback, and even consider transparent sponsored discussions to foster word of mouth.
    • Great summary Jeremiah, I was just experimenting with Social Search myself. I think that one impact of Social Search and the other technologies that leverage your social circle is to cause people to prune their more tenuous social media connections.

      I subscribe to about 500 RSS feeds through Google Reader, and when I added my Google Reader account to my Google profile my social search results were flooded with results from blogs that I had long forgotten I subscribed to – certainly not valued members of my social circle. I imagine that anyone following 2500 people on Twitter would have a similar experience.

      From a corporate communications perspective, this is great for companies that are active in social media, and on the trailing edge another nail in the coffin of the idea that companies can choose whether to participate in social media.

      Even if you don’t care what people are saying about your company on Twitter, you will care when search results for your company are filled with commentary from the user’s social circle, and your company website contains an ongoing discussion courtesy of Sidewiki.

      I call it asymmetric social media – similar to asymmetric warfare where insurgents use an opponent’s own infrastructure and institutions as a platform to launch attacks – social media technologies will allow users to use a company’s own web properties and search results as a platform to have discussions, express opinions about the company and engage others.

      I wrote a white paper on this dynamic here: http://mhgroupcom.com/asymmetric-communications/

      I would be interested to get your thoughts.

    • That’s very helpful Daniel. The challenge with the social graph is that it often doesn’t help prioritize those that are the ‘most’ important to you.

      Facebook has already done refinements to the newsfeed. Although I have thousands of ‘friends’ in Facebook, it serves up those in the newsfeed that I communicate the most with, giving them priority. As a result, we should expect social search by Google to also refine based on previous behavior.

      Another refinement Google will likely do? They’ll look for patterns in a social graph across multiple social networks. If they see you’re a friend with someone on 5 sites like Yelp, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and Google Talk, it could be an indicator to prioritize that person over someone who’s only in 1-2 networks.

    • excellent post as usual. This may force some to scrub their social networks and be more mindful on who they follow/add in the future.

    • “Social search empowers customers over search marketers. With consumers influencing each other in search results, this diminishes the power of traditional search marketing as people can lean on each other.”

      Search marketing is continuing to evolve alongside social media marketing. I don’t know that this statement is accurate in the sense that good search marketing embraces the social aspects of the web, too.

    • Antonella

      I am also curious to see how Google itself will evolve AdWords, as social search takes off.
      I listed some of the questions I have on my blog (http://snowcrashing.com/2009/10/31/after-adwords-and-adsense-is-adfriends-next/).

    • Once again, we see technology creating a power shift from marketers to consumers, not a surprising trend. Marketers are going to have to shift their focus more and more as time goes on and applications/solutions like Google’s Social Search keep surfacing.

    • I’ve had the opposite experience from Daniel. Since most of my real-world social network (mostly current and recent college grads) is not tech savvy/interested enough to create google profiles, when I test social search I get very few results. In comparison, all of those same people without google profiles are on facebook and of course use google for search.

      This new development gives google some leverage over such users by giving them an incentive to fill out google profiles to make their searches more relevant. That in turn adds more social power to google, especially as facebook remains sandboxed from searchable results.

      Given that facebook is partnered with bing I’m interested to see developments in bing’s search platform. If they can successfully integrate their own social search with facebook and not require users to fill out new profiles, they may gain the lead in search. Convincing your market to change their habits is always a risky proposition.

    • Pingback: Zona Zapping 67 – 1 noviembre 2009 - Interactividad.org()

    • Pingback: After AdWords and AdSense, Is AdFriends next?(By Antonella Stellacci in Trends ) « Looppa()

    • Pingback: The Impacts Of Google’s Social Search | Digital Asset Management()

    • Pingback: eModeration's Social Round-up #10 - A Sense of Community - Blogs - Brand Republic()

    • Social search is yet another step away from the “on page” aspects of SEO driving the SERPs and toward the “quality voting” or “off pages” aspects of links driving rank in results. At the end of the day, however, the same strategy that has led to good results in search ranking will continue to lead to good results in the wake of social search – remarkable content that people find worthy of linking to and talking about.

      As such, I believe that companies/products/sites that continually deliver great content will rise to the top of the conversation and thereby toward the top of search results. The thing I find really interesting about the impact social WOM will now have on the SERPs is the question of how “fresh” content needs to be to be in the current social conversation to rank well in social search. How will Google (and eventually Bing) balance the rank of a contextual page with age and authority against one with recency and current buzz in the real time conversation…especially as the lines between social search results and “normal” results become blurred and more universal?

      Either way, it will behoove companies to create fresh content to be relevant to the current conversation.

    • David

      The ‘fresh’ aspect of content will certainly be an impact. As the social web starts to become the ‘real time’ web Google is taking note. Expect them to serve up data based on what people are talking about in real time, as it raises the level of context.

    • Pingback: Footprints (05.11.09) | Chris Deary()

    • Hi Jeremiah

      I’ve been following your blog for some time, it’s one of the better ones out there in this particular niche of web strategy.

      Since google banks primarily off their adwords, i’m wondering to see how they will non-invasively integrate them into this social search platform. Do you think people will care if they do? Will individual social users be able to install Adsense on their profiles and make money simply by social networking?

      This is a super slick attempt to become the open ID of social networks by fluidly engaging them inside of the Google infrastructure. However, i can imagine it not being as useful for facebook or twitter content aggregation, more still for blogosphere content.

      What do you think of the one size fits all formula? You think it will replace swiss army knives like twitter, or just piggyback off of them? Is Google trying to compete and eventually envelope facebook? Or just trying to increase their monopolistic leverage over the internet by budging in on all the networks’ territory?

      Have a great day

    • It seems like ‘context’ is the big word for the future of the web

    • They will probably have a way of displaying more ads. It seems that Google is filling their results with more and more ads lately.

    • qqlovee
    • Pingback: Should Google Be Afraid of Social Media? | Social Media Marketing()

    • jrhgh5hi6hy9iouim
    • Well , the view of the passage is totally correct ,your details is really reasonable and you guy give us valuable informative post, I totally agree the standpoint of upstairs. I often surfing on this forum when I m free and I find there are so much good information we can learn in this forum!

    • Idhanji1

      Thank you for dutifully ignoring my comment.

    • Brands should encourage word of mouth by making it easy to review products, encourage customers to give feedback, and even consider transparent sponsored discussions to foster word of mouth.