Social Media affects our lives in ways only Mark Zuckerberg once dreamed possible and this heavyweight status has become official now that the search engines are showing social network posts in general search results. Google’s recent Content Farm (Panda) update has knocked out former heavyweights like Ezine articles and now gives greater weight to content that is shared organically through social media outlets. This change has caused many search marketers to reevaluate their current methods and spend more time and energy creating content for social media.
Google’s spam guru Matt Cutts has stated several times in recent weeks that companies should marry their SEO and social media efforts and should shift their focus away from article marketing and into social media marketing. Content is still King, but rather than create cookie-cutter content, companies should take the time to create genuinely thought provoking and share-worthy articles that can be sent viral through social networks. Content that is shared often will carry more weight with search engines than content that is distributed through traditional article marketing methods.
Social Search Results
The strength of the link between individuals helps determine what users are seeing in their Google Social Search Results. Google has embraced Blogger (its own platform), Twitter, Flickr and other social networks for this integration. Individuals that share URLs via blogs and social networks will appear linked below the search result. Before, Google listed these at the bottom of the page or in a collapsible section, but now friends’ social comments, photos or blog posts related to a search query appear within general results and users can filter results by social media sharing.
It is unclear for now how social search results affects the user experience. Google’s official comment on the Social Search change has been, “This is just the beginning, and we’re going to be doing much more to improve the comprehensiveness of Google Social Search.”
In the present we can expect to see a user’s search results lightly to moderately influenced by their friends on social media networks. This will open new doors and avenues for attempting to gain viral marketing exposure to help gain rankings. It will also pressure companies to dig deeper into their content creation bags to supply users with information that they need, want, and feel motivated to share.