Posted on March 24, 2013 by Brenton
There is no doubt that Google is revisiting their Ten things we know to be true quite frequently in the past couple of years. With the all the new algorithm updates and the attention they are putting on cleaning up search, you can bet that Google’s focus is and always will be to “provide the best user experience possible.” This goal is the reason behind Google’s algorithm changes. Google believes it’s best to do one thing really, really well and their one thing is search. Google wants to be a search engine that “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” To be able to accomplish this, Google and other search engines are integrating social media influence into their algorithms. For this reason I believe the Future of Search will become less about what we can control and more about our ability to create valuable content that others will want to share.
There are now over 2.8 billion social media profiles, representing around half of all internet users worldwide. This growth and influence is being utilized by Google to bring you back exactly what you want in search. But what does this mean for bloggers, brands, and everyone else who owns a website with the hope to be found and ranked in search engines? It means we need to optimize the things we can control and then engage with our users to help influence them to share.
Of the 200+ signals and techniques that Google’s algorithm uses to determine rankings, there are only certain ones we are aware of and can control. These consist of a variety of on-page and off-page SEO techniques that anyone can learn to do because of the resources now available online. Some of these techniques are no longer considered or barely have any say in Google’s algorithm. For example, the meta keywords tag does nothing but show your competitors the keywords you are focusing on. The techniques that do matter to algorithms are mostly controllable. For instance, everyone has the resources and ability to fully optimize their site/content in terms of choosing the right keywords, writing the correct url structures and page titles, manually getting links from websites, increasing site speed… the list goes on and on.
So if everyone has the same chance at optimizing the controllable signals that Google uses in their algorithms, how would Google rank sites if they were all fully optimized? This question is what keeps the team at Google working. This is why social is so important and different. If you’ve read other blog posts lately about the growth and importance of using social media and still don’t know why… THIS IS WHY! Social is the Future of Search. Bing has already teamed up with Facebook to change how their search results appear, but who teamed up with Google? Google understood that they needed to control and measure social influence to use as another signal in their algorithm. To be able to control this, they needed to first create a platform that they had full access to… Google+ was born. Then, Google Authorship came about, yet another signal to help rank sites/content that is again controlled by Google.
Why is Social different? Social is the one influence that us as content creators and even search engines can’t fully control. It’s the one thing we can’t fake or use to trick search engines. Social sharing has been and always will lie in the hands of the user reading our content. Sure there are things we can do like creating valuable content and engage with people, but the decision to “share” still rests in the hands of the reader. Because Social is different, it’s the one thing that works to separate sites in search results. If two sites have everything fully optimized from an SEO stand point, but one of them is not getting anyone sharing their content or engaging with their brand and the other is… guess who will beat who in the search engine rankings???
Now… this made me do a little bit of research to see if this claim could actually be sure or not. So I searched “insurance” in Google since I figured this was a competitive industry and the top brands would most likely have most of the SEO stuff done. I gathered the top sites on the first page and then researched their likes, followers, etc. Below is what I found and I must say I was very surprised.
I’m guessing you can see where I was surprised. Check out the Google+ column. Notice how Progressive is completely dominating their competition. Geico has the 2nd most with only 3,040 followers. You could argue that the others have a significant number of more Facebook likes than Progressive, but does Google own Facebook? Can Google access every inch of data that Facebook contains? Clearly Google can’t, but they do have full access to Google+ data. Google gets the power of social and Progressive gets the power of Google. Unfortunately, Progressive’s competitors don’t.
This might help explain the push for Google+. Google wants to get users so they have more access to their users habits, likes, interests, and social influence so they can use that data to “provide the best user experience possible” by “understanding exactly what you mean and giving you back exactly what you want.” This is the power of search. This is the power of Google. This is the power of Social influence.
So what does this mean for us? In my opinion we need to be aware of the power of social and take action. We need to do the little things in SEO correctly, create engaging content that people will want to share, and take advantage of all the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, G+, Youtube, etc…) and what each one offers. Plus, we need to be blogging on our sites. This is the outlet to publishing content for people to share. Along with your blog, make sure you implement Google Authorship on it as well. Build up your authorship authority because Google will use it in determining whether or not your content is important enough to be shared in search results.
Hopefully this post has helped you to understand the importance of social sharing. If you have specific questions please comment below or connect with me via the links in my bio below. I would love to help answer your questions. There is more I wanted to cover on this topic, but I’ll leave those for another day, for another post.
I’ll leave you with this… Social is the Future of Search. If you don’t grasp this idea now or take action, you’re in a world of hurt.
Thanks for reading. Here are some other helpful articles & stats on this topic: