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Social Search – What is it?

Google is constantly changing the way it indexes and sorts websites; what it thinks you want and what you don’t. On May 19th, Google released Social Search but what is it, how does it work and will it really affect websites and their positions in Google?

Ensuring a website stays on Page 1 of Google is a constant battle. Competition for the top spot is often fraught and difficult to maintain even with a skilled SEO specialist on your side.

Unknown to the majority of Google users, Social Search has been around since October 2009 and has allowed information to links and search results to be pulled from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

In Google's words, it was supposed to be “an experimental feature designed to help you find more relevant information from your friends and the people you care about.” So why is everyone talking about a Google feature which has been around for 2 years? Well on May 19th, Google released an updated version of Social Search.

How Does it Work?

Much like Google Instant (originally),  users must be logged into their Google Account to use Social Search. Once logged in, Google combines its own search results with those from social networks. What this means is that when you’re searching for ‘stuff’, the results will show any mentions, tweets, blogposts and pictures from your friends using social networks including Twitter and Flickr. See the video below:

Why Now?

I am sure Google is sticking to a scheduled release date although, the update does come right on the heels of the Facebook V Google debacle. Facebook admitted to hiring a PR company to run a smear campaign on Google’s use of people’s private information. This all escalated from Facebook being unhappy about Google using Facebook's social data without Facebook’s permission. As a result, Facebook and Google are now fighting a dirty, underhand war, with the current result being Google excluding all Facebook data from Google Social Search.

What Does it Mean?

In terms of online marketing, it is yet another reason to ensure that your brand or company is covering all aspects of online marketing including blogs and social networking sites, such as Twitter. This will ultimately mean that social content can appear next to or in, Google search results. It will be interesting to see what this apparent division of social media platforms does and whether or not it will affect in anyway the usage of Bing and Google. With Google utilising most of the major social networks (except Facebook) and Bing being so heavily integrated into Facebook, is this the beginning of a slow divide? In terms of Search Engine Optimisation, page listings will not change directly as Social Search results will be placed toward the bottom of Page 1, or in the form of a single line under a result. However, as Google Social Search develops and forms a more significant aspect of a Google search, this might change.


For information on Google Social, I suggest you check out the video above or head over to the Google Blog. In the meantime keep an eye out for the effects of this update. See if you find it useful, annoying, or slightly weird. Feel free to comment below and ask any questions etc.

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