It's important to examine how Google and Bing's social efforts may affect your brand. How do social signals, referral traffic, and conversions contribute to social search? What improvements can be made to take advantage? Let's examine.
Google, Bing & Social Search
Google’s social search was first introduced in the U.S. in 2009. Now, two years later, they're finally ready to roll this feature out internationally. The search giant has added to social search since initial integration, including having social results fully integrated into results pages instead of just clustered at the bottom of SERPs.
With the international rollout and Google +1, it’s clear that Google is taking social search more seriously. Google encourages users to build relationships like those that are built on Facebook but within the search giant’s network and has opened up the door internationally.
Bing certainly has taken social search seriously as well, bringing the “Friend Effect” and collective IQ of the Web to search. As a brand, regardless of location, it’s time to take notice.
So what does this mean to you?
Google and Bing have been forthright in stating they examine social signals in aspects of search, Bing out rightly stating that social signals can affect rankings. A lot of information can be gleaned by using social signals: “discovery, trust concepts, temporal (velocity), context (semantics) and behavioral” , useful for social search as well.
Ensure that the content published on your site, your video assets, your blog, etc., entices users to share them with those in their connected networks. I know - easier said than done.
- Understand social reciprocity and provide content that is share worthy on and off your site.
- Ask for a share, surprisingly asking for a RT has been proven to help increase shares.
- Try publishing your monthly newsletters online, include those all important social buttons online and in e-mail marketing campaigns.
- Use the right channels to promote your assets, use the right keywords in all the usual places, and most of all, don't try to game the system by building up fake accounts or “Like” (share) farms
Building up a large community of social users has the obvious effect of helping to drive referral traffic when used properly. By enticing users to share and by having an engaged community of users your brand is able to diversify the traffic to your site, which can have an affect on rankings (and thereby increase traffic too – talk about a win win).
As it relates to social search, there is a short- and long-term ripple effect seen. An online user shares a blog post which is then shown in SERPs several months later when someone in their connected network searches for a similar topic. That user is likely to click on your result over another simply due to social search. This ripple affect can only become larger as you build your network and as online users share information about your site.
With a proper mix of inbound marketing (social media marketing included) many brands have been successful in increasing quality of leads and conversion rates. Using social media for customer relationships management has been successful for some brands to reengage with customers and build trust which can result in higher conversion rates also.
Many online users make purchasing decisions based on the recommendations of another; some studies boasting over 49 percent of us do it. A social share shown in SERPs influencing buying decisions? It's quite possible.
Adding social aspects to your product pages and throughout your website with a call to action is a good start to increasing shares. Bing makes it quite easy for users with their shared shopping lists and Google is sure to follow suit eventually.
These are just a few ways social can affect your brand and how each contributes to social search. As a brand, take notice and do your due diligence to encourage users to share your information. With the global rollout of social search and improvements to Bing’s decision engine, the importance of social is clearly growing.
Do you have concerns with where social search is headed?