Social Media and It’s Influence in Google’s Search Results

Welcome to the Social Search era. Back in February, Google announced it was going customize the search experience with it’s new Google Social Search. As an average user, I like the concept, but as a marketer and seo, I don’t at all.

Social media is playing a major role in your search engine marketing and it’s results. Are the results your being delivered fairly? I say no, you are being delivered two sets of search results. I’ll explain why, in a few minutes. But first, I want to explain the two different results, and how they effect you. The two results you are being delivered are Social Media results, and the Traditional Search results. As I like to say, your log in and log out of Google account results.

Google’s Social Search / Logged In

If you have a Google account, and you are currently logged in, you will be delivered search results tailored around your and your circle of friends likes. What this does is give your likes and your circle of friends likes, a priority. Meaning, they will “usually” be delivered on the front page of the search results, at, or near the bottom. Not all liked pages are treated equal and some are mixed within the results. Sounds good right? Wrong.

The only reason you are on the front page is because you and/or your circle of friends have liked that specific page and/or web site. If you unlike the page, it will be gone. The only people that will see your front page results are you and your circle of friends. To a complete stranger, or average web visitor, they will more than likely not be following you, or be in your circle of friends.

Google’s Traditional Search Results / Logged Out

If you log out of your Google account, or open a new browser, you will be delivered Google’s Traditional Search results. You will have a completely different search result, and you will not see any of your or your circle of friends likes. By simply being logged in or out, changes everything, and will change the way your results are delivered. Now, that you are logged out, or opened a new browser, you are not on the front page anymore. You are shuffled back in the search results where you would normally positioned.

I have taken some screenshots of my findings, to show you exactly what i mean. I did two searches, “how to start a blog” and “website marketing”. When I did these searches, I did them logged in and the same exact search logged out.

I have also highlighted whether I was logged in or not, the search term, and my liked websites. My liked websites are being displayed because I linked to them from my Google profile.

Website Marketing Search Results

How To Start A Blog Search Results

I hope that the examples above shed some light to how Google is delivering it’s results.

Yes, social search is the wave of the future and will have more of an impact everyday. The fact of the matter is, it’s just another small factor in the search algorithm. Another factor to consider is that a lot of times, people aren’t even logged into their Google accounts without realizing it. More factors to consider, some people disable their cookies, change browsers, and don’t save their browser history.

As of right now, Google is only getting user data from it’s own users, Twitter, Linkedin and has a limited amount from Facebook. Facebook considers Google a rival, so Google has only access to Facebook pages that are publicly available. That may change in the future, but I doubt it. Bing is the only search engine that has full access to Facebook’s user data.

As a marketer and seo, that changes everything. Now you have to optimize for the search engines and social media. So, which do you optimize for, both. I wouldn’t focus too much on optimizing for social media, you are not Lady GaGa or Ashton Krutcher. You don’t have millions of followers or circle of friends. When it comes down to it, you should spend 90% of your time optimizing traditional seo.

Personality, I don’t like this approach, and is likely to be abused by spammers. I don’t think just because you and/or your circle of friends likes specific a website, that it should change the structure of the results. The search results should be delivered normally, the traditional way, and just add the like statuses. Search engines have to consider that not everyone has the same taste, and everyone is different.

In the end, until the results are treated equal, regardless of who likes what, traditional seo is the way to go.


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