Google announced today that it has upgraded Google Social Search to now include social data from Twitter, Flickr and Quora. In the past you may not have even noticed social results as they typically showed up at the bottom of the SERP. Now they are going to be blended throughout the SERPs as you can see below:
About a year and half ago, I posited on SearchEngineLand that it was inevitable that Local Social Search would be the default search paradigm for local queries. We’re still not there yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I recall having a discussion at the time with a search engineer at Google who claimed this would be an impractical technical challenge for the search giant (never thought I’d hear that from a Googler). But with the continuing improvement of Google Social Search along with the pressure GOOG is feeling to compete with Facebook on the social front, I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot more local-social stuff coming out of the Plex. For those of you pondering the implications, here’s an excerpt from my old post that I think is still relevant:
…there is a large opportunity for businesses to increase awareness in their community by simply networking with other businesses via social media like Twitter. But now with the advent of Google social search, the simple act of following or being followed has a ripple effect that could yield dramatic benefits.
Here’s a pseudo-real-world example:
Joe’s Pizza in Pleasanton follows me on Twitter. Someone else in Pleasanton whom I have a Facebook connection with searches Google for “pizza” or “pizza in pleasanton.” Because my Facebook and Twitter accounts are connected in a variety of places (my blog, on Brizzly, etc.), Google can find my relationship to Joe’s Pizza and surface it in the “social” results section of a search result page, which is a good thing for Joe because he was having a hard time cracking the local search “seven pack” (local search results placed next to a map on Google’s Web results pages).
But since it’s highly unlikely that I will have even a one-way social connection with local businesses or Tweets about a local business in many categories (think upholsterers, foot fungus specialists and pet psychics), Google will have to look somewhere else to find socially relevant results. This is where people interested in the same niche and people located in the same area come in. My guess is that these social profiles will make up the “backfill” of social local results when no one whom you have a direct or even indirect connection with for a specific local query has shared any relevant content. And given the tangled web nature of social media connections, my guess that inevitably Google will be able to find a connection that is somehow relevant for any query.
So basically for a lot of queries in the early days of Google social local search it’s going to come down to how aggressive and targeted you can be with your social media profiles. The more relevant you can be regarding the query, the location and the network, the more likely you are to appear in the local search results. The good news is that if you follow basic social networking logic you should be able to do pretty well. Some tips for all of you locksmiths and other local businesses out there:
- Create a social media profile on the major social networking sites—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.
- If your niche has social media sites, create profiles on those sites (e.g. Sphinn, PetPsychicNetwork, etc).
- Make sure you include both your location and your niche keywords in all of your social profiles.
- Connect with people who are talking about your niche and/or talking about your location.
- For good measure you might want to connect with people who have a large number of social connections. This will increase the likelihood that you have at least a distant connection with someone who is searching for a query relevant to your profile.
See you in the SERPS!
Google’s Search Results Get More Social; Twitter as the New Facebook “Like” by Matt McGee