Social and Search in 2014

goopluxThe misinformation just keeps on flowing in the world of search. Today, I read an article in a major SEO journal about how Starbucks uses Google+ to get better search rankings… say what? Well, sure… Starbucks has 3 million people who have followed them at Google+. So, when Starbucks posts on Google+, the post could show up in search results for the people who are following them. But what about the thousands, perhaps, millions of small businesses with millions of less followers than that bad coffee company? Does anybody hear a tree fall in a forest? Don’t get me wrong. I think Google is doing everything they can to make G+ a dynamic place and they are out to prove that they can control their own destiny in the search vs social world.

In fact, the only place you will see search being affected by social is within Google properties. They can’t or won’t create a deal with other social networks so far. We do what Starbucks does. We create G+ posts with the idea what we are doing will affect search at some point favorably. We are finally seeing G+ as a referrer in analytics. So, there is a slow transition afoot there. But what about the rest of the pack?

Frankly, I don’t get over to Yahoo and Bing that much. Like most people, I Google stuff. But I do get over there to look at live results of important client search results. Its just so hard to worry much about 3-10% of the search traffic our clients get from those other two “major” search portals. When I do get over to the other two, I don’t see anything from the social world affecting the search results. Sure, we keep hearing that Twitter might do this and Facebook might do that. But to date, the only affect businesses derive from the social networks on search is that their brand name can dominate the first page with all of these “assets.” That’s not a bad thing. But search is mainly about discovery, not confirmation.

There has been talk from time to time that Facebook search will become a serious competitor to Google in search. Have you tried to do a discovery type search at Facebook recently? I don’t think Google has anything to worry about just yet. Even searching for people on FB is a painful experience once you realize there are thousands if not millions of people with the name you are searching for.

Interestingly, Twitter invented the hashtag (#). While Facebook and G+ try to hijack the method as their own, using a hashtag (as well as not) at Twitter can produce pretty good results using their search functionality. But results for what? Again, I think of pure search as a discovery tool. If you know the hashtag then you only are discovering who used it. The other problem with hashtags is that if you are not part of “the group” promoting a given hashtag, how do you know to use it to search for something?

I’m sure that if the social networks survive, there may be a cool way they can be integrated into search. Will this happen in 2014? Anything is possible. There’s lots of time left in the year. For now, I will continue to use Google+ with the thought that it may affect search results a bit. But Im only searching for things I already know at social networks for now.

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About David

David Tucker: Search Engine Optimization, Link Building Strategies, Off-Page SEO, Brand and Reputation Management Campaigns, Structural Analysis, and Analytics Consultant. Fighting the good fight against the search engines since InfoSeek and Alta Vista were the top Internet search portals. David has a strong background in technical, design, and hosting related issues. This provides RightNow clients with a layer of SEO that most organizations can not offer. In addition to SEO work, David has developed the RightNow online client reporting system, public website, email and auto-responder system, and the development + branding of the RightNow social media channels. When not working you can find David enjoying the outdoors in Maui, Hawaii

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