Why? Google has made some massive changes to its social media ranking criteria and, for those of you who’ve been avoiding social media, the goalposts have been moved. A lot.
Just a few weeks ago, Google announced to the world that social media was to play a far more important part than ever before in its search engine rankings. You didn’t know? Well, that’s probably because you haven’t been using social media!
Here’s how Google’s new rules will affect YOUR business…
Firstly, Google has decided to give more weight to the opinions of people all over the web. So-called ‘social search results’ will now be mixed throughout search results based on their relevance. Google first introduced ‘Social Search’ back in 2009, but until now, those results only appeared at the bottom of the page.
It means, in short, that social media is more integrated in Google’s search algorithms than ever before. SEO is no longer king of of all online presence… effectively, you’ll be competing with the likes of blogs, Twitter comments and Flickr content.
Not only that, but Google has added a number of other tweaks, such as upping visibility and ranking for content that is more recent; this, of course, adds even more weight to the argument for regular blogging and updating in order for companies to regularly publish fresh online content.
Oh, and being the clever little search engine it is, Google will also be adding your friends’ comments to the mix; so, if your buddies have been blogging and talking online about a subject you search for, chances are they’ll pop up in your results. Of course, by ‘friends’ we mean anyone you’re connected to online – suppliers, clients, prospective customers… Big Brother, anyone?
Concentrate… here comes the science part
If you’re wondering how this works, it’s all to do with an annotation system that lets you know when a ‘friend’ has shared a specific link or search result. If one of your online contacts writes a blog about HR issues, for instance, that result will show up with a note that your friend has “shared” the post via Google or one of its other social integrations.
The result? A huge increase in social results in searches, with friends’ results popping up if they have tweeted, or blogged, a reference to that particular search term.
The good news is that you can choose to connect your Google account to social networks either publicly or privately – just in case you don’t want anyone to know you’re @ILoveMinnieMouse on Twitter.
Enhanced Social Media Elements
Seeing is believing, right? Well, pop yourself over to Google, right now, and search for anything you like. Take a look down the left hand side of the page and you’ll notice the updated search banner, which now includes more social media elements.
Okay, let’s drill down and see what’s really going on. If we look at the newest tweaks to social media’s Google importance, you’ll see the following options as part of your search:
- Images (pooled from social media channels such as Flickr)
- Videos (how many times have we purred about the importance of YouTube?)
- Blogs (fairly self-explanatory… it’s content from blogs)
- Realtime (this seems to be Google’s way of saying ‘Twitter’, although any other social media channel could also be included)
- Discussions (this includes chatter from groups, forums and the like)
Get the picture? This is big. It’s important. If you want people to find your business online, you really can’t afford to ignore it. Really, really, really.
What does this mean for your business?
Put simply, if you want to boost your chances of a high Google ranking, an SEO strategy probably won’t be enough. If you want your brand to be found online, participating on the major social media channels is now vital. If you don’t…. well, it’s your www.funeral.
Google has made social search a priority, and it’s not about to do a U-turn. So, if you’ve been an ostrich up to now, it’s time to pull your head up, rub the sand out of your eyes and get Tweeting, YouTubing, Digging, Blogging… everything you can find to get your business noticed.
PS: If you want to read Google’s own take on the changes, you can read the announcement here.