Ok sure, the title is a bit off coloured (not something unusual to me of course) but this one has been eating at me over the last few months away from writing/reporting. Google.Social.Search. Why has this flown under the radar so badly with the SEO world?
Is it because social hasn’t been a strong focus as far as direct SEO benefit? Because it’s a seperate discipline? Because nobody is actually looking at SERPs anymore? Maybe because it’s not obvious enough as far as benefits? …. I’ve no idea.
It is nearly hilarious (if not a bit sad) that the industry has been going mental about Panda (which we know little about and have even less control over) over the last while. The obvious one there is that we don’t hear about the attribution update a mere fortnight prior (which skews most analysis I have read).
And of course it’s counter-part on the social graph side, the +1 button which is likely little more than a brand war for social buttons around the web. Does it re-rank anything? No. This is key. Why? Because of the simple fact that there was a change at Google that actually does, as far as the social graph is concerned.
Here’s a few past bits;
- Google Updates Social Search
- Google Social Search Needs Better Management
- Google social search and SEO; the one that got away
Once again, the interesting parts in this story are the fact it was never in Labs (which +1 is) and more importantly, it RE-RANKs THE RESULTS!
Someone get that man a heat map!
So, here we are again. There was a great post over at the Lost Agency on this (and Bing’s recent uptake in interest) called; Social Search Impacts. In that post they had an image from a heatmap simulator called Fen-Gui (have not tried it, unsure on accuracy);
This is exactly part of what is so important about this update. As we have seen with images and videos in the past, they can be a great draw to the users eye. Let us now extrapolate it out and realize it’s not just an image, it is a personal endorsement from someone in the social circle. Add in the aforementioned rank changing ability, and wow.
I’d love to see an actual (non-simulated) heat map study on these, if anyone knows of one, please do let me know.
That is all, carry on
I have heard various arguments as far as the value here, but that’s not the entire point. Little +1 buttons are window dressing and ego food. Of the two changes to Google social search this year, this one was far more important and it seems telling that few seemed to have grasped this.
Furthermore, preaching the Gospel of the Geek, these changes and implementation of the social graph give us more insight into where the future of search is headed. Behavioural data has always been an issue for search engineers and I believe this type of deeper personalization will ultimately lessen the noise that potential spam can create. That of course means that greater value (weight) on behavioural signals is likely in sight.
Here’s a vid from Google on it;
I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments; why has this flown under the radar?