The Current State of Social Search

March 2, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

You still with me, folks? :) It’s the last session of Day 1 and we’re here in the coldest session room of them all.  I hope you brought gloves. And maybe a wool jacket.  And some mittens. Up on stage Danny Sullivan is moderating speakers Kerry Dean, Adam Sherk, and Johanna Wright. I bet all those lights are keeping the speakers warm.  Jerks…

Anyway! Danny is kicking things of and says that if anyone walks out of the session they will be mocked. My butt is firmly planted in my chair. Especially since the wonderful Michelle Robbins just brought me chocolate cookies. So far nice conference goers have dropped me off cookies, a piece of cake, two pieces of Dove chocolate AND a brownie.  They either love me or they’re hoping I have a heart attack right. I’ll keep telling myself it’s the former.   Alrighty, let’s go.

Up first is Johanna Wright.

Social search is a componenet of personalized search. It’s the most visible thing that users can see within personalized search.

It’s All About Relevancy

Make search more social and improve relevancy of your search results by surfacing relevant public content from your social circle on It shows results that are primarily relevant to you.  When you search for [big green egg] (which, apparently, is a BBQ), it will show you who in your network has written about Big Green Eggs. You learn who’s in expert in your own circle.

How Does It Work?

Your circle comes from: Google contacts (friends, family, coworkers, followees), your Google profile, extended with Social Graph API.

Content that you see in social search comes from: Google profiles of your contacts and your Google Reader subscriptions.

Content that your contacts see about you comes from: Your Google Profile.

It only shows public content found through the Social Graph API.

What Does It Mean For SEO?

  • Much of the same.
  • Keeping building great sites.
  • Keep following the Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Annotate Social Graph API tags. –
  • Use Webmaster tools to make sure Google is indexing your site well.
  • Search for [google social search help]

Social Search is about individually authored pages and friends who trust these authors.

Next up is Kerry Dean.

He follows a lot of SEOs.  He’s a profile-aholic. If he gets a client, he creates profiles for them everywhere.  He really likes Google Profile. He probably really likes Knowem.

Social Search: Expanding the Responsibilities of SEO

More opportunities for free traffic. Social search can drive a lot of traffic for client who may not be ranking organically, but who will show up in social search.  You have to focus on Universal Search, Real-Time Search, Social Media and the Mobile Web.

Where do you start?

The Core Elements of a Social Campaign

  1. Teamwork: Create a social media team. Assign channels and specialties.
  2. Strategy: Find the appropriate sites for your brands
  3. Content: Develop a content strategy
  4. Tracking: Determine which channels are performing.

He recommends the following profiles:

  • Google Profile
  • Yahoo Profile: Right now the Toyota profile is a picture of a cat. You’d think with all their recent troubles they’d be doing something about that.
  • Live Profile
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Flickr & Picasa
  • MySpace
  • FriendFeed

New Ranking Signals for Social Search

  • Relevance and author of source
  • ReTweeting
  • Correlated signal from multiple sources
  • Rate of mentions
  • Changes in attention flow
  • User Behavior
  • Location
  • Events

Do not do:

  • The Weekend At Bernies Social Media Strategy – you do a few updates, but ultimately the profiles die and you only  haul them out to fake life when your boss is watching.
  • The Mannequin Social Media Strategy – Fans are left wanting more
  • The Uncle Buck Social Media Strategy – Your Google Buzz feed is awesome. There’s no backup Social Media manager. A random person is assigned to Buzz. They go overboard with everything.

Adam Sherk is up. Adam is a replacement speaker so he doesn’t have a formal presentation. He does, however, have some comments.

Google Social Search isn’t formally set up for brands, yet. A company can go and set up a Google Profile, but there’s not a corporate version of it.  It makes it a little bit more challenging. Google Buzz is helping to make the concept of brands having a Google Profile more acceptable.   The index is limited by the scope of your social circle. If your friends don’t have a lot to say about what you search for, you may see some old results. You won’t always get the most relevant content.   He thinks it may be interesting to talk about if Google wants news and brands in people’s social circle or do they just want it to be friends? What makes sense?

If you have people who work for an organization in your social circle, they’ll come up. He follows the NFL coordinator on Twitter. Any time he does any kind of NFL searches, the coordinator keeps popping up in his results because the PR people are in their circle.

Google Buzz changed things because it brought up the idea that brands needed a Google Profile — because if they’re on Buzz, then they immediately get a Google Profile.  For Search Engine Land, they have a Google Profile at  They can’t just be SearchEngineLand because someone else owns the gmail account. It’s brought up a slew of new issues that Google and brands are going to have to figure out.

Johanna wants people to remember that Social Search is still a beta feature.   They launch often and iterate a lot. They think Social Search is about people, not brands.  The team is thinking about authorship and friendships between people.  You can tell people to follow your site to Reader to get your brand content showing up. That’s another sign to them to Google that you’re interested in that site.

Question & Answer

How much does stumbleupon reviews, clickthroughs play into the social graph?

Johanna: They look at what info they have access to. She’s actually not sure. They take everything they know about a document or review and use it to be more relevant. She doesn’t know. They try to figure everything they can out about a document that’s related to a query.

We have Twitter and FB accounts for our brands, should we create separate accounts for certain individuals?

Adam: If Google wants Social Search wants people to be about individuals, then yes.

Kerry: You could have Fan pages that are directly marketed towards people looking for one category on your Web site.  Like Best Buy – CDs, Best Buy – Videos.

Can you track if someone has come in from social search?

Adam:  He’s not sure.  He supposes there are ways to try and doctor it up a little but there’s nothing clear and easy.

And we’re done! I’m gonna grab a beer. I think you should go do the same. We’ll see you bright and early tomorrow!


6 Deadly Sins of Data Visualization

on Sep 4 by Ian Lurie

We hope you had a beautiful end to the summer this Labor Day weekend! In upstate New York we’re already…

Social Media
Social Media

Twitter Won’t Make You Suck Less. Ask Comcast

on Oct 21 by Lisa Barone

I giggled when I read TechCrunch this morning. I just couldn’t help it. Here’s why. There are A LOT of…

Social Media
Social Media

What Coke Knows About Social Media That You Don’t

on Mar 16 by Lisa Barone

I’ll make this quick. I told myself I wasn’t blogging today. I love you all, but liveblogging PubCon has left…

^Back to Top