With the explosive growth of social networking, Google has been developing ways to combine social and search. A while back, Google started to include social results at the bottom of the search results with links to related content your social network “friends” had posted. Now, Google has changed it so content that has been shared by your friends and people you follow appear right in the search results themselves.
As you can see from the screen capture below, Google is returning results from social network friends. These results have an extra line at the bottom of their listing saying who shared the page. (Example: the last listing has “Greg Atkinson shared this”.) The idea is that when a friend shares a page it’s like an endorsement of that page from a friend. Since in the real world we tend to give more credence to recommendations from our friends, Google is giving more weight (better position in the search results) to pages that have been shared by our friends.
Here’s a short video Google put together explaining the changes:
Everyone’s Results Are Different
In order to have these social listings in your Google results, you must be logged into your Google account and you must connect your social networking accounts to Google. Because everyone has different friends and different people that they follow, everyone’s results will be different. If you do the same search as in the example screenshot above, you would get different results than we did.
This is a game changer.
This adds a new reason for social marketing for your organization. You can get your content into the top results of the people who are following you. When other people share the link as well, then you are getting into their followers results. So, the larger your social circle, the more people will see your content.
This also increases the importance of creating great content and optimizing that content (at least the title and post) for your desired keywords (search terms). The better the content you create and share, the more likely people are to share that content with their followers. At the same time, if you want your content to show up in the search results for certain keywords, then you need to include those keywords in your content, probably in your title (if it’s a blog post), and have the keyword in tweet or share text.
So, how does this effect search engine optimization (SEO)?
On the one hand, it will change the results people see when they do searches. There are additional listings in the search results and they do push some of the former top ten results out of the top ten. That said, the base results are still the same. Google is still starting with the same rankings and then they add the social listings into that list. So, it’s still important to optimize for your targeted keywords if you want to be in the top search results. Also, since a person has to be logged into Google and have connected their social networking accounts to Google to see these social results, there will still be a lot of people who are seeing the regular search results without social listings.
With social networking continuing to grow, I’m sure Google, Bing and other search engines will continue to look for more ways to incorporate social networking into their search results. If you already have social accounts for your organization and have your staff sharing a tweeting, then you’re on the right track. If you don’t have social accounts for your organization or you aren’t very active with those accounts, I’d encourage you to take some time to develop a social networking strategy and start engaging your members and customers socially. It’s good for your organization and now it’s good for your search results.
Picture by: Search Engine People Blog
A Little Help?
Would you help us with a little experiment? Would you Google “church Facebook tips” and tell us how the search results you see compare to the screenshot above? Please also tell us if you’re logged in, and if you’ve connected your Google account to any of your social media accounts. Thanks!
Are you seeing social results in any other Google search results?
If your organization isn’t using social networking, does this news make you more likely to start?