January 14th, 2012 / Search Engine Marketing

What Social Search Really Means

For the past 13 years, search has largely been based two things: on-page content and links. To varying degrees, these two elements (on-page and off-page) have driven the lion’s share of search results for every business that has attempted to earn its place in the Google rankings.

At certain times, Google has emphasized the on-page ranking factors more prominently. At other times, links and other off-page factors have been more important. All of that is changing. Has already changed.

We discussed Search plus Your World. Now we’re discussing it again.

Billed as “social search,” a term that is not exactly new, Search plus Your World is Google’s attempt to control link spam. What it means to every business online that is fighting to achieve higher search engine rankings is that you must now trade your link value for social value. Inbound links will no longer be the Holy Grail of search engine optimisation.

Instead, social ranking factors will begin to play more prominently and boost content to higher search engine rankings.

What I’m talking about specifically are +1s, shares and reshares, and other significant social signals. Google+ could very well kill social metric tools like Klout.

There is really only one thing you can count on when it comes to search engine marketing. Everything changes. And that’s a constant state of being. You can expect search to be different one year from now than it is today.

With that in mind, Google has raised the stakes in the social media wars. It’s almost inevitable now that Facebook will have to try to figure out a way to gain a foothold in search. Whether that’s deepening its relationship with Bing or developing its own search engine to compete with Google plus Your World, that’s a big question.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Are links dead? Are they as important as they used to be? Will social signals rule search engine optimisation from here on out?

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