Social Media Has Permanently Altered Search
Years ago, when you wanted to know where to find something on the internet, you just went to Google or Yahoo! and they would spit results out from their algorithms. The results would change as content and links changed, but overall it was fairly straightforward. The addition of social media has begun to change that. Two people doing the exact same search may get entirely different results. They may even search in totally different ways. When they do search, the links they click on may behave in different ways than they did just a year ago. Here are four ways that social media is changing search that you need to know about:
- Social Media accounts are being directly incorporated into search results. Take a look at the example below from Bing (click to enlarge).
There is a column of search results, a column of ads, and a column for social media. The social media results give suggestions for friends who may be able to help, the option to ask friends for help, and the chance to post more to your wall. Now your social media likes, posts, and activities will directly influence the search results of your friends. What is significant about this, is that now the recommendations come from friends and associates, rather than an algorithm that scans the entire web. Trust becomes a factor.
- Google Plus gives ranking bonuses on Google searches. (click to enlarge)
If you’re logged in to your Google account while you search (and most people are), what you’ve shared, posted, and given a +1 to will affect your search results. In the search result shown for “NJ Branding Firm”, you can see that the first result has a person next to it, and a comment that this was shared. If other friends have shared a page, that will be noted as well. The combination of notation of a friend’s share (trust), and a boost in rankings (placement), shows why Google Plus can be a social network that may have a dramatic impact on search. Right now however, the engagement on Google Plus is still fairly limited. The number of users is a little inflated because technically, every person that has a Gmail account or owns an Android phone has a Google Plus account, regardless of whether or not they use it. With Google’s aggressive marketing however, the number of users may see changes in the near future.
- YouTube results now appear in Google – and bring the user to your page! (click to enlarge)
This is a change that has come about in the past month or so. YouTube videos that are embedded on your site may bring a user directly to your site to see the video, as opposed to YouTube. In the example below, you can see that the third video does not have a YouTube URL. A click will go right to a sub-page of www.freedrumlessons.com showing this video. This is even outranking their organic result. YouTube, which was once simply a different social media account, is now integral in search. Don’t forget that YouTube is also the second most popular search engine on the web as well.
- Twitter even acts as its own search. (click to enlarge)
Though the microblogging site will increasingly be indexed and used by search engines in the future, the search feature that the site hosts for it’s own content is also worthy of notation. Users won’t likely utilize searches for something like a plumber, but they will for news and entertainment. Trending topics and the nature of media have users using the search function to interact with others on important topics. Twitter is becoming one of the primary news sources where people gather information. the instant nature of the searches, constantly updated, and quick posting allow for real-time news and information gathering. In the example below for a twitter search of “game 1,” which was a trending topic at the time of the search, there is a promoted tweet (which is largely irrelevant), and the first four tweets, all of which are less than 20 seconds old. Searching Twitter is the new way to get real time info on important topics – all from social media.
Not everyone may enjoy social media, but it is a reality that’s changing our world. It’s changing how people communicate, and it’s changing SEO. Now is the time to capitalize on social media, and use it to increase your positioning. If you want more information or some help getting started with social media and SEO, give our NJ SEO firm a call.