Jun 19, 2013

What is Social Search?

by: in SEO

The idea of social search has been tossed around among digital marketing professionals for several years, but only recently came into the lime light early last year as Google introduced Search Plus Your World and Bing introduced their social search functionality, including integration with Facebook and Klout. With all the buzz about social media meeting search engine optimization (SEO) and buzzwords such as social search optimization, many brands and non-digital agencies are left with the question, what is social search and why does social search optimization matter for my brand? These questions tend to be even more prominent for brands that have been looking at their digital presence in silos versus using an integrated approach. 

In my three part social search blog series, I’ll touch on what is social search, why it matters to your brand and how to optimize you social media for search.

So…what is social search?

Social search blends how people think, interact and communicate through the web. In the past, people have used different social media platforms for different reasons – Facebook to connect with friends, YouTube to watch videos, Pinterest to see the latest in wedding DIY, but those lines that once separated different social media are beginning to blur and social networks are enriching their content to increase the popularity and use of the network. It refers to the premise that search results present content that is both relevant based on the search query and personalized based on public information available from the searcher’s online social circle. Social search also refers to the influence social media has on organic search results. Social media impacts search results through engagement, content sharing, post optimization, and relationship building between brand and fan or follower.

And, search engines are placing increasing importance on social media signals in their algorithms. In fact, both Google and Bing have confirmed that links shared through social media networks influence SEO.  In addition to traffic, inbound links, and on-site content, your website’s search rankings can also be affected by “likes”, retweets, shares, Google +1s and more. These social factors, or signals, add a layer of human verification that a link, piece of content or website is worth appearing in search query results. This provides “social proof” for search engines and the more social proof a piece of content or website has, the better chance it has of ranking higher than competing content or pages, provided that all other elements of the ranking algorithm are the same.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the idea of social search and the impact social media had on search results and SEO for brands and companies. Next week, I’ll take a deep dive into why social search matters for brands. Stay tuned!