Back in October, 2009 I wrote “Why Your Company Needs a Google Profile” after Google released it’s Beta Version of Google Social Search.
With Social Search, Google finds relevant public content from your friends and contacts and highlights it for you at the bottom of your search results.
The way we do it is by building a social circle of your friends and contacts using the connections linked from your public Google profile, such as the people you’re following on Twitter or FriendFeed. The results are specific to you, so you need to be signed in to your Google Account to use Social Search. If you use Gmail, we’ll also include your chat buddies and contacts in your friends, family, and coworkers groups. And if you use Google Reader, we’ll include some websites from your subscriptions as part of your social search results.
As I elaborated on in my first post the key to getting your company’s content showing up in Social Search was:
These points still apply, but things changed a little bit this week. Social Search is over as an experiment and is being rolled out to everyone signed into a Google Account (sort of) more on that in a second.
The first change is the addition of images to Social Search Results:
What this means is that photo streams that you have connected to your Google Profile will now show up in Google Social Search Results. These can be from Flickr, Picasa or any other Photo sharing site with a feed to your images. Companies should connect a Flickr Profile or Picasa Profile to their Google Profile and should be adding pictures of their products, important employees or executives or what ever they would like to appear in social search results to those connected photo sharing accounts. Note tagging those images with keywords may have extra significance in getting these results shown.
The real keys to the kingdom for Social Search comes from the links to your “Social Circle”
Looking at the screenshot, you may notice two new links for “My social circle” and “My social content.” These links will take you to a new interface we’ve added where you can see the connections and content behind your social results. Clicking on “My social circle” shows your extended network of online contacts and how you’re connected.
The data in the Social Circle page is fascinating to look at. It breaks down how you are related to people in your social circle and even details an additional second degree of separation to your social circle. My immediate takeaway was seeing what Social Networks Google is using to determine a social circle. Again, Google needs away of connecting or mapping an individual or company to its various social profiles to determine a Social Circle and The Google Profile with links to those other social profiles is the way to do that. But it also appears that links to those social profiles on a FriendFeed profile page are working the same way. So you should also give your company a FriendFeed profile and treat it the same as your Google Profile.
Getting Social Search results on your Google Search Results really depends on having the Google Profile – which is completely something you would have to go out of your way to establish on your own and share links to your social media platforms on. But the possible implications of Google using Social Graph metrics to determine normal search results for EVERYONE are more significant.
More and more, surveys about ranking factors and other expert opinions are asserting that Google will, and may already be using Social Graph metrics to as part of the Algorithm that determines Search Engine Results.
It is highly possible that Google could be using the Social Graph metrics found in a searchers “Social Circle” as a basis for assigning weight to shared links or content from what they share on Twitter. The greater the influence this person has (ie Followers, Social Circle Size, and ReTweets from that Social Circle – and potentially even the user behavior of those followers in reaction to that shared link) might be the next great factor in determining what shows up on your search result page.
The next speculative question arising from that possibility is: Are results personalized only to those in a Social Circle or to Everyone?
Is Google assigning a rank to its users with Google Profiles? Will the Goal of SEO in the future be to get a retweet of your shared link from an influential user with a powerful Social Circle?
We are of the belief that Social Circles will matter in the immediate future (if they don’t already) for SEO, and that Social Media and SEO are now officially intertwined.