Say goodbye to the days where great meta tags, keyword-stuffed content and a few quality backlinks were all you needed to rank well on Google. Those days are gone, thanks to the phenomenal impact social media has had on the way we interact online.
Folks are starting to realize that it is often better to ask for recommendations from friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ than to simply leave everything up to automated search engine algorithms.
Now, search engines are starting to realize this too. Google’s recent move into social networking was something they’ve been planning for years. They saw the threat of Facebook, and they knew that even their supreme command of the traditional search market would be challenged.
You see, Facebook is collecting an unimaginable amount of social data about you and I at this very moment. They’re compiling our entire social profile and they now know more about the things we like, our interests, our demographics and even our personality than many of our friends know about us. Imagine how useful this data can be to marketers.
That’s where search comes in. At the core, search engines are all about delivering the best results as quickly as possible, based on the search query. Well, what I consider to be the best results and what you consider to be the best results might be entirely different, even if our search queries were identical.
How do you address this issue? Take our social data into account.
By merging the algorithmic search results with our individual social profiles, engines like Google are able to customize results based on a multitude of factors, including what we’ve previously expressed interest in, what our friends like and what we talk about.
In that sense, social data might even be more valuable than traditionally search data in delivering the best search results, because it allows for a much higher level of personalization.
You’re no longer browsing the web. You’re browsing the web that has been customized and filtered based on your individual profile. That can be a scary thought, because there is a fine line between content filtering and censorship.
Nevertheless, be aware that search engine optimization (SEO) has changed. Social SEO is the new wave, yet it is still in it’s infancy. As networks like Google+ gain traction, we’re going to see that our social data will continue to play a big part in finding what we’re looking for online.
That means the game has changed. The folks who were experts at traditional SEO need to adapt if they haven’t done so already. New tactics will emerge and just when we think we’ve figured out social SEO, something else will come along and change things yet again. That’s just the nature of technology.