According to a Nielson survey, social media currently accounts for around 18% of the search market and consumers combine online search with conversations with friends & family before making purchasing decisions. Google have cottoned onto this social phenomenon and have inked a deal with Twitter (as has Bing) to display real time updates in search results and are experimenting with an exciting new development in search technology called Google Social Search. When you are logged into your Gmail account, it combines Search Engines results with your social media networks such as Twitter, Digg and blogs.
How does Google Social Search work – a quick overview
- Results will only show when you are logged into your Gmail account and at present, this can only be seen in Google US Search Engine results.
- Google uses the normal ranking algorithm to display content from social media networks so normal SEO factors apply such as keywords, the number and quality of links and so forth.
- Results are currently shown at the bottom of the Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), but are likely to be blended in to normal results in future. Google Social Search returns results from people in your Google social circle with content relevant to topic.
- Google Social Search determines your Google social circle by looking at your Google profile, Google Reader Account, Google Chat, Gmail contacts etc and combines social results with video, blog and news results.
- Google are trying to be transparent about where and how the information is being retrieved and clicking on people in results shows how you are connected to those people e.g. Twitter, Digg etc. Privacy issues aren’t a concern as no one will see your Google Social Search results except you. Results will only show that can be searched for by other means ie Google Search Engines.
How do you improve your results for Google Social Search?
Your Google Social Search results can be improved by filling out a Google Profile and linking to friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and other social networks. If your contacts use Gmail, Google will also have access to their contacts.
Why is Google Social Search important?
The importance of the Web continues to grow for purchase decisions and for content discovery. Nielsen released the results of a study done in August 2009 with 1800 participants documenting the evolution of online behaviour and the shift away from traditional search engines to social networks.
The study found that while 37% of people still used Search Engines for their purchase decisions, 5% of people looked at blogs, 4% looked at social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc and total social media accounted for 18% of online searches. Nielson’s research shows the growing importance of social media as a ‘core product research channel’ and trusted research channel.
While traditional search engines still play a significant role in ecommerce, social media networks are increasingly being relied on to support buying decisions. Monitoring your website’s online presence on social media networks is becoming increasingly important and we will discuss this in an upcoming blog article as well as more updates on Google Social Search as they become available.