Recently, Google unveiled a new search feature: social search.
In simple terms, traditional site search involves search spiders crawling the web, indexing sites based on the content and keywords. When users search for sites, these indexes are used to generate search results. As such, search results have been based entirely on the content generated and published on static websites.
How Social Search Competes In The SEO Realm
This tool enhances the search landscape: relevance based partly on user interactions.
This type of search may seem scary at first, but it shouldn’t be. All relevant search results generated by social search are themselves publicly available on the web. They can be found using traditional search. What social search actually does is create personalized results based on your contacts—your social circle—and brings those results right up front alongside other results.
Google’s explanation of how social search works:
So what does social search mean for your business? It means that users can prioritize what they find when searching the web by relying in part on people they know.
Let’s say for example that your company sells lumber. A user is searching for lumber suppliers online, and they happen to have a friend who has been blogging about the process of refurbishing their home and deck. That friend has a lot to say about lumber. Our hypothetical user can utilize social search, and when looking for lumber online, their friend’s blog posts and comments from her readers will appear as high in the results as your website (and your competitor’s).
Add in the fact that her search results include the testimonials of her friend and other readers, and those results may seem to be equally trustworthy as information that could be found on your site.
Social search, therefore, means that it is more important than ever to engage in proactive search engine optimization techniques. The more search-relevant you can make your web properties, the more likely they are to yield an all-important high search ranking.