Well its been on the horizon for a while now and today Google announced the integration and launch (officially) of My Social Search and explained the effects and meaning of this new feature on the results pages and what you can expect to see.
Most of us in the industry knew this was coming and there was speculation as to the effect it will have on the results in both relevancy and of course with Search Engine Optimisation. Many people joined the initial google testing experiment that allowed them to gather data on social search and allowed us to see what the results where of doing various searches under different conditions, such as when your logged into your google account and when your not, different geographical locations and of course trying to account for your particular social network and the influence it will have on the results but from the information in the post I think Google have went even further. (I can see some SEO’s starting to scratch their heads right now).
Google Social Search
According to Google (and aside from suffering a minor baby boom in their offices) they have been enjoying the creation and integration of social search as they see it as a major way to increase the accuracy of results for individuals due to the trust factor involved with a social network. For example, when you perform a search, traditionally you count on Google to return the most relevant results for that search but once that process is complete, you are basically at the “mercy” (for lack of a better way of putting it) of the resulting website, its information, content and brand.
Once you establish that the website is authentic, something we do very quickly if the brand is recognisable such as Amazon, E-Bay or similar, we continue the decision making process about the host site and whether we wish to continue the transaction, book the flight, make the enquiry or contact them by phone etc. and now social search brings a whole new aspect to this process.
Social Search Consequence
By including your own social network in the results, effectively Google are increasing the need for a good quality brand, integrity and high level of service from businesses as we can see references to the products, the recommendations, the complaints or the company name from a group of people that are on line, connected to you and whom you already know and consequently trust (to varying degrees of course) and the experiences that they have had with the subject you are searching for.
Having found someone who has already experienced something first hand, and whom you have a relationship with, you cna then gather feedback and information about the matter at hand directly and on a much more honest and reliable level.
Basically, companies (and indeed individuals) need to be on their toes now if they want to maintain standards in their every day business practices and this will mean offering much more personal, polite and direct customer service. Not a bad thing in my opinion!
Social Search Setup
Their is no Opt in or opt out of social search it seems and Google have said that results will appear whether you are signed in with your Google account or not. This in itself has annoyed some people as it means the standardisation of results, where the number 1 result for “Product A” is he same for both you and me, has effectively been disrupted (but not removed yet) as depending on the size of the searches social network and their activity, the social part of search will serve to produce different results for each and every individual and this cannot be managed or manipulated by any third parties in the same capacity as a website can be created and coded or grown to place for specific search terms in results.
This will in itself make for a very interesting year ahead and a very different view of search engines.
Anyway, have a watch at the video below to see what other features social search will include and if you feel like it, don’t be scared to pipe up and leave your opinions on social search and what it means in the comments below. I would be very interested to hear another point of view.