Is Social Search the Death of SEO?
It seems like yesterday that Facebook overtook Google as the most popular website on the web and formed an alliance with Bing to transform Social Search. In an ideal world this system of peer recommendations would help people find the best products and services based on a simple “like” button that’s been planted on every website.
On one side of the equation you have people that think Google’s search algorithm is easily gamed by spambots (I assure you it is not that simple) and that the quality of the results has been diluted by greedy marketers looking to hawk their products online.
While there is certainly some of that going on, building a company’s entire marketing strategy around one vertical search directory wheher it be Facebook or Twitter isn’t a very sound decision.
Why should You Be More Concerned with Search Engine Marketing Now?
Other Than Proven ROI Models?
Because there are hundreds of other search directories where your business can be found. Craigslist, Judy’s Book, Yahoo Local, Citysearch, and Kudzu just to name a few. These vertical search directories have review systems that allow for customer feedback that is a little more “in-depth” than a thumbs up button. Also, in these socialistic paradigms everyone has an equal voice, lending to a cluttered wall where marketing messages get lost over time as a person “likes” more companies and has more friends vying for attention.
If anything, I have found through split testing that people are more adept at ignoring marketing in social media channels and they have the power to segment the marketing messages into a list that they may never even look at, or can alltogether just hide.
A person should make a business page on Facebook and claim their Facebook Places listing so that they can be found through their search algorithm. There are certainly some cool interactive features you can do with Facebook like have photo sharing contests and participate in real-time customer service. It seems really logical to have a Facebook or Twitter presence for a restaurant or night club so you can keep your followers informed on food and drink specials.
What’s Wrong with Social Search?
While I like the idea of having massive forums where like minded people can gather and participate in conversations, there is one problem with this. People, just like in real life, segregate themselves into tribes and then participate in discussion groups about what they want to talk about.
Also, what may be popular on the internet may not be the best thing for society. I’m sure millions of people “Like” coca-cola. I had one the other day for the first time in over a year. It was delicious. It doesn’t change the fact that just because the beverage is popular that it is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and isn’t necessarily good for your health.
So Why is Search Engine Marketing here to Stay?
Google’s December Update favored brick and mortar businesses in search results to filter out spam. For example, before this update I could simply optimize my SEO business for Nashville, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles (which I did not, but could have), but now the new Google “Places” listings favor offices and businesses in their own city for first page results. For certain types businesses, these results are already covering the whole first page. Combine that with the aggregation of reviews from all the review sites and you have a first class peer recommendation system built on steroids. Rather than a simple “thumbs-up” we have entire reviews that were written with in-depth critiques of a business from people that have actually been to the location.
Facebook won’t let you give a business a “thumbs down” but these review sites sure will. With the Google Places app hitting the Iphone market this cements the new algorithm as the champion of real peer recommendations. After all, if I were looking for a good restaurant in Atlanta then sure, I would ask a friend sometimes. Or I could ask the hundreds of people that went to that restaurant in one click of a button on my cell phone. It doesn’t get much better than that. So, is Social Search the death of SEO? No, it just made it better.