The Intersection of Search and Social Media

Charlene Li, author of Groundswell, gave an excellent keynote at Search Engine Strategies, San Jose this week. Titled The Future of Search she spoke about where the web is going, how search and social will intersect and how we can prepare for what’s ahead.

In  just 10 years we’ve moved from 10 blue links on a page to Google Universal  with blogs, twitter posts, images and videos featured on a search results page. And the search engines are innovating all the time.  Already we’re seeing new features that integrate personal preferences into the search results.

User intent and trust are the two factors we have to prepare for.   We have to move from keyword-focused strategies to being people-focused.

Google has always said they are a relevancy engine.  They strive to give you the most relevant result.  If you want your content to appear on page one for a search you have to understand that relevancy falls between content meaning and user intent.

User engagement in social networks is the new relevance.

Starbucks posts something on their page and 7000 people say “I like this.”  they pass it on and share ideas and links.

But search and social are still a bit disconnected – search engines cannot crawl content in a site like Facebook, but they’re innovating and adapting to this  new landscape.  In the future they will  incorporate this new relevance factor.

Social networks will be like air – everywhere. They’ll just be a natural part of our everyday lives and we’ll find it quaint to think back on the time when we had to log into Twitter or Facebook to talk to our friends.  Our social graph will be part of all our online activity – whether we’re shopping, traveling or searching.

Similar to the way Amazon personalizes our experience, our social graph, and reviews from people we know and trust, will be incorporated into search results.

How can you prepare for this change?

  1. Always focus on the user intent, not the keywords.  It’s about the relationship, not the technology
  2. Be aware of the value of a customer – what is her influence factor?
  3. Listen to your customers and learn from their conversations
  4. Include social-graphics into the profile of your customers and your publics
  5. Integrate social into your website now. Get your back end data in order
  6. Talk to your customers and other people interested in your company
  7. Help and support them in the buying cycle, online and offline
  8. Include them in your decisionaking
  9. Create useful, helpful content
  10. Encourage them to share your content
  11. Partner with other social sites
  12. Be willing to give up control.  The biggest reason companies are not implementing social  media programs is that they’re not willing to relinquish control of the message

See you in Chicago in December at the next SES.

Sally Falkow

The Proactive Report