Surprise, surprise, they've done it again. That's right, the genius minds over at Google have come out with an interesting service called Social Search.
In a nutshell, it takes a logged in user's personal connections and searches through them to find whatever they're looking for. The results are incorporated right into the results of a normal Web search in the way universal search incorporates images, videos, and other content.
This is Google's response to the hyped vertical of social search, already started by companies like Aardvark (which is now owned by Google). The idea behind social search is basically to get the input of your friends, rather than anonymous Web sites. This tends to fit into certain types of searches, such as "What's a good restaurant to take my wife for our anniversary?" rather than "How many light years away is Alpha Centauri?"
Google can search through several social areas, including Gmail accounts, Google Talk transcripts, subscribed RSS feeds, Picasa, Flickr, FriendFeed, and Twitter profiles you follow.
Social Search essentially ramps up the impact that personalized search or search wiki has had. Like those services, results are tailored to your specific profile. However, unlike those services, one can likely expect this to have a bigger impact on search listings.
There may be a sizable number of users who see social results above your top 10 listing. Social Search results are usually placed toward the bottom of page one, but that will probably depend on relevance.
For SEO, consider implementing the following to expand your real estate in search results:
- As if you hadn't heard about it enough, you need to have your Twitter account actively posting updates. Use keywords just like on your site, and boost your subscribers as much as possible.
- Your company's other social profiles also need to be highly subscribed, actively updated sites with good content. Long-term, consider everything from Google Buzz to Facebook.
- With the inclusion of Gmail, it makes sense to start thinking about optimizing e-mail newsletters. Newsletters can be posted online, or found through desktop search, so optimizing them has multiple benefits. This means no more newsletters that are one giant image.
- Here's another case for full-text RSS feeds: a subscribed feed containing just the first paragraph or so of complete articles will have fewer opportunities to rank and drive traffic.
Not to sound like a spokesperson for Google, but you can sign up for this experiment in Google Labs and start trying it out today. It's simple to use, which means this service should take off.
There's no need to tell Google anything if you use Google Reader, Gmail, Profiles or other Google services. Also, there's no need to use a separate search service to do social searches – the results will simply start showing up one day in your old standby Google. With a little effort, hopefully some of these results will belong to your sites.
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