Internally we have treated search and social as intertwined for over eighteen months. They are closely related with search engines using social signals to judge rankings and social sites investigating search possibilities to help monetise their platforms.
With Google launching it’s +1 button that will allow you to recommend things that will in turn influence search results and Facebooks inevitable forray into search it is clear that we are on the cusp of integrated social search results.
So that leaves us with two dominant questions. Firstly – who will win this battle and secondly what are the implications for SEO (search engine optimisation)?
Who will win the battle? I believe Facebook will. It is far easier for Facebook to develop a search engine than it is for Google to develop a dominant social hub. Google’s recent +1 button seems to me a flawed attempt to steal the initiative. In the longer term they will both prosper but I believe we may be saying ‘Facebook it’ rather than ‘Google it’ it a year to eighteen months time.
Secondly – what are the implications for SEO? Initially social appears to be an easier set of signals to influence and therefore quite easy for SEO companies to utilise. BUT – as the criteria becomes smarter I believe we will find social media a difficult area to conquer. Sentiment, specific social groups and influential social figures are my reasons for this belief. As social search develops sentiment analysis it can tap into larger moods. Certain social sectors will remain un-penetrable and therefore a quota of search results will be ring fenced. AND finally there will be specific high ranking social influencers that will have a large impact and whose attention will be difficult to attract.
So – Search and Social are getting married and we will all need to be creative to cope.