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What does Google Social Search mean for website optimisation?

Posted 25th March 2010.

Google’s latest output, Social Search, allows users to search for information via their personal connections on Twitter and other networking sites.

With social search rapidly growing in popularity, the idea is basically to get the input of a user’s friends, rather than anonymous websites.

Social search results are incorporated right into those of a normal search engine results page (SERP) similar to how images, videos and other content are currently integrated into regular listings.

In addition to the ubiquitous Twitter, Google can search through several social areas, including Gmail accounts, Google Talk transcripts, subscribed RSS feeds, Picasa, Flickr and FriendFeed profiles you follow.

SEO specialist John Greer, writing for Search Engine Watch, explains that this is the ideal tool for people looking for things such as a good local restaurant.

"Social Search essentially ramps up the impact that personalised search or search wiki has had," he states.

Marketing via social networking websites certainly seems to be a hot topic of late, with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) potentially being granted new powers to regulate the practice.
However, Mr Greer points out that businesses will have to use SEO services to make the most of Social Search by regularly updating their Twitter and Facebook pages.

"Use keywords just like on your site and boost your subscribers as much as possible," he advises.

He notes that a company’s other social profiles also need to be highly subscribed, actively updated sites with good content.

Further, with the inclusion of Gmail, Mr Greer says that it makes sense to think about optimising e-mail newsletters.

"Newsletters can be posted online, or found through desktop search, so optimising them has multiple benefits," he states.

Social Search is currently available for trial via Google Labs. However, if the service takes off (and there’s no obvious reason for it not to) it will offer another avenue for website optimisation in addition to allowing companies to easily check how many mentions they are getting on the most popular social networks.