The Convergence of Social and Search

GraphSerachIf you dismiss social media as the pointless nattering of teens and adults with too much time on their hands, maybe you dismissed Google search 8 or 10 years ago, too.  “How can a free search engine help my business?” you might have asked.  Since that question is settled, we need to consider how social fits into the picture for business.

By now every business should be on Facebook.  Your customers expect it regardless of how socially active you are.  Facebook is ideal for restaurants and not as helpful for funeral parlors.  Nonetheless being there is important, just as having a website is important.  Slowly businesses are discovering the power of engagement and how to apply “Pull” marketing in the new environment.  (I’ll have more on that in future posts.)  But now it is even more important to have a strong social presence for other reasons.

How your business ranks in Google, Bing, and Yahoo is important for obvious reasons.  Logically you use keywords and use the traditional techniques to optimize your site.  Those techniques will get you only part way to where you need to be.   Google now factors in your social credibility.  If your business is on Google+ and you have more followers than a competitor, your business will rank higher in keyword search results, all other things being equal.   But it doesn’t end there.  If you have a YouTube channel, that will boost your ranking, too.  Don’t forget that Google owns YouTube.  Google will even add a clickable thumbnail to your videos in search results.  Studies show that searchers will bypass text results in favor of ones containing videos.  The number of views and viewer rankings also factor in to where you show up.  Google even gives more weight if viewers watch the video all the way to the end rather than cut out early.  Google casts a wide net beyond its own properties to accumulate even more information about your social presence.  Google doesn’t have access to everything inside the Facebook empire but it certainly knows if your business has a page there.

If that is not enough of a motivation to pay attention to social, consider what Facebook is doing with its billions of dollars spent on R&D.  Currently for most users when you use the Facebook search you will find results within Facebook followed by a generic keyword search in Bing.  This year Facebook will be rolling out what it calls Graph Search.  With a huge captive audience it is making a move to compete against Google and other conventional search engines.  You can try Graph Search here.  Essentially they are leveraging that huge database of likes to better help people find precisely what they really want.  Let’s say you are searching for a restaurant.  You can fine tune the search by cuisine and city, just as you can using Google.  But, with Facebook you can also factor in “liked by my friends” and even “visited by my friends” all from a single search screen.  There is obviously much more depth available with Facebook’s vast data.  If Graph Search catches on, why would anyone use Google?

It’s a new environment and proper online execution requires a willingness to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of social and search.

Keywords vs. Quality Content


Keywords are important – no doubt.  Bit by bit Google and the other search engines are creating new ways to evaluate your site and direct searcher to quality results.  Sites that pack keywords in their titles, headings, and tags are coming under closer scrutiny.  If the site is also packed with ads and thin content, Google will penalize the site.  Thin content includes things like external links that have no relevancy to the presumed purpose of the page and content copied from other sites.  Google gives bonus points to original, helpful, and relevant content.  When linking to external sites it should be done in the context of providing more information for users wanting to explore the topic more after consuming your content.   A page with a list of plain links probably won’t impress Google much.  Google also loves videos and original images.  They imply a content rich site.  Remember –  Google owns YouTube.  Stay away from schemes to have your site listed on hundreds directories in order to boost your results on search engines.  If Google identifies those directories as link farms, your ranking will crash.  Stick to “white hat” techniques.  If you have quality and meaningful content for your target audience,  Google wants to find you.  Follow their guidelines and you will be rewarded.

Finding “Ideals” – The 20% Solution

PraetoThis is Vilfredo Praeto.  In 1906 he observed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.  He then looked around at land ownership in Italy and discovered that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people.  As he noticed the same pattern in other phenomena, he developed the Praeto Principle – “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” In business it is often applied to sales and profits – “80% of the sales/profits come from 20% of the customers.” The Praeto Principle is important when developing an online presence. Everything should be focused on attracting more “ideals” like the most profitable 20%. 20% is a rough estimate. In some situations it might be 10% or 5% or 15%. The point is that profiling your “ideals” is something you should consider before starting your next online project.

What Does Online Execution Mean?

Online execution encompasses more than throwing up a pretty website.

A well-designed site begins with an understanding of the target audience – specifically your ideal customers.  Profile them.  Identify what they will be seeking when they visit your site.

Will your ideal customers be using your site from mobile devices?  In most cases the answer is yes.  Also,  in most cases they will sometimes be using desktop computers, too.

Are your ideal customers social?  In most cases the answer is yes.  What networks are they using?

What are your business objectives in being online?

How will your online presence integrate with your offline marketing?

All these factors and more need to be considered before committing a single line of code.

This blog will provide some guidance to entrepreneurs and business owners developing their online strategies.   If you know someone who would benefit from a little help, share this link.