Google’s credentials have traditionally been built up by scouring the web for key words and web links that human browsers then wanted to find via the search box. As more and more of those searchers clicked a particular listing established by Google, that listing moved up through the tens to millions of sites that had a particular set of words or links. Getting your nonprofit or charity in the Top 10 pretty much ensured that when someone searched for a keyword that also was on your site, the searcher – any searcher – would see you.
In recent months, though, Google has been drawing on many of its searchers’ social networks to adjust the rankings according to each person’s own connections. a debate-provoking story on SEOmoz.org about how rankings of sites he writes for can instantly rise or fall depending on how he has set up his Google account. Will Google no longer be accepted as an unbiased arbiter of the internet?has posted
The linking/ranking requires the searcher not only to have a Google account, but to be signed into it (One need not have an account to search via Google, though you have an account if you use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc.). Once in your account, your social linking can be set up and expanded here: .
As Randfish stresses, the development means an organization’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will need to be ever more closely tied to any social-network presence (Twitter account, LinkedIn or Facebook page…): “The reach of your social network and the sharing you do to those networks will have a substantive, possibly massive, effect on your search traffic. The socialization of search is more than just Tweeted URLs or Facebook Likes or LinkedIn Shares having a positive first/second-order impact on generic rankings, it’s about influencing your social graph to see the content you share in their search results.”
A few more connections on your charity’s Facebook page, for example, means anyone in that network who searches Google will see what others in that network have sought and viewed. Suddenly, a local urban gardening nonprofit can become a top-tier destination for any searches for ‘urban garden’ across the globe, if that nonprofit can garner a few more Twitter followers.
This development, though not especially new, has drawn some sharp debate about how SEO will morph from a service provided to a interdependent relationship between media consultants and the companies they work for. And how Google might lose its status as a ‘blind’ aggregator of searches and the popularity of where searchers go. Randfish’s posting, like others we have presented to our readers is as interesting for its many comments as for his fleshing out Google’s social component.
We culled a couple here, though you should read them in their entirety and in their order to appreciate the back-and-forth that has taken place over the last couple of weeks.
An increased burden on clients has been growing for many years as content/social become core to SEO. Potential clients don’t like it, but it’s real. I’ve lost several proposals recently because I mention the “P” word (“participation”) when describing the work we’ll do in the project. Suddenly, organizational leadership capabilities are as important as technical SEO. If you can’t influence the client’s budget, HR, and executives enough to carve out participation among staff, you can’t succeed anymore. It’s changing how we do business in the Agency world. (comment posted by)
It is very unfortunate that Google is polutting <sic> its results through social connections. So all i need to do to rank high for my target audience is let them somehow follow me, befriend me on facebook, connect to me via linkedin. … See how easy it is to manipulate search results now.
This will also make competing with big brands almost impossible as most of them have enormous social media presence or resources to create such presence. Above all i prefer to see fresh unbiased search results. It is highly unlikely that i will buy say pink trousers (which popped up in my search results for some trouser query) because one of my connection bought it. I think Google will never understand how social works. (comment by )
What the enthusiasts and the skeptics accept, though, is that SEO and social networks will grow only more closely connected with time. How smaller organizations can take advantage of the development in the short term seems pretty clear. Whether the advantage will remain once corporations start linking the optimization remains debated.