Google deciding to implement their +1 search service really isn’t big news… yet. Its implementation is a little buggy and isn’t turned on by default. Like the Facebook Like button soon you’ll be able to add the +1 button to your website or blog. Cool. I’m all giggly inside at the prospect of another thing that people can click on in my site.
What are the consequences of all this social stuff? From Google +1, FB Likes, tweets, and blog posts, search engines are starting to utilize this data in their search results. The true social search concept is still a new one. Bing started including Facebook likes in their search results last summer. Google has tried creating several of their own services and none of them have worked very well. (Orkut, Buzz, and Wave) Now they’ve added the +1 and I’m sure will continue to ramp it up over the next few months as this is part of their long term social integration strategy. How is this continuing to change the search landscape? Let’s get to it:
Peer Reviews.One of the other changes included with the Google +1 button is the incorporation of social search results in the regular organic results. These social results are based off of other people’s +1 likes, Twitter recommendations from people you follow, and blogs you read. As an example, your buddy says something on Twitter about Neverland Apartments. You do an apartment search and Neverland shows up because your buddy tweeted about it. See the example above. More and more results from your social sphere will begin to show in your organic results. Suddenly the search engines are not only showing you what they think you want but what other people think you want too. That’s some powerful stuff. I’m sure you’re already beginning to see the consequences of this already.
Search Engine Optimization. All of these social search results come at a price don’t they? Of course they do. It will be harder and harder to predict what will show up when something is searched. Can you imagine a time where searching for the same thing can end up giving you different results? That time might be coming. Flooding your webpage with keywords and getting good backlinks seems so early 2000 now doesn’t it?
Personalized results. Regardless of whether you have a Google account or not (which is required right now to use the +1 silliness) they have been providing personalized results for some time. The Chrome browser can force some results in your organic listings just based on your surfing history.
They have been using location based results for quite a while and continue to expand the local places results. I expect this personalization to continue. Adding social search results to your organic listings is another huge step towards full personalization where two of the same searches will give different results. No longer is Google just tailoring the search results to the keywords you’ve typed in but it’s doing it based off of those keywords, your browsing history, what your friends are saying, what your followers are saying, and what bloggers are talking about. It’s powerful, it’s going to give you a wide variety of results, and we won’t be able to predict it.
So why should we care? I truly believe that the majority of people start their apartment searches with Google or Craigslist. If Google becomes an even more personalized search engine and Craigslist is slowly dying then the game is changing. You can’t plan for the future and not take what’s happening now into account.
What can we do about it? If you haven’t started getting into the social space then you’d better start soon. To build a true internet brand takes time. To become a company that other people will recommend takes work and effort and energy. Since social search is advancing and results are becoming more personalized you can’t rely on old habits to help. The internet and how you search is changing and you’ve got to keep up. Get your Facebook pages up, start Tweeting, and start blogging. Engage with your current and future customers. +1 is just the beginning of true change to the major search engines. Don’t be left behind.
So what is your take away? Are our precious SEO efforts going to get wasted? Is social search just a fad? Let’s talk about it… the comments are all yours.
Don’t forget to check out these great links as well:
BlogTalkRadio: Why “Social” Search Matters and What You Should Do About It
Google’s version of Facebook’s Like Button by Mark Juleen