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January 31, 2010

First lesson on Social search optimization in Google

This is probably the first lesson on social search with many to come. I suggest you experiment with this a lot as I still see stuff I am not expecting every day. What puzzles me is exactly how Google ranks different profiles, information etc in relation to each other. There will be several ways in which you can optimize a website for social search in the future. I have already found a couple, but this is the most basic way in which you can appear in the bottom of the search results on the first page.

1. Understanding the Search result

What is shown as the social search result are a couple of components.

The Icon
First of all it is your icon. The icon is selected from the profile in which you are connected to the person who has conducted the search. Or, it is taken from your Google Profile page.

The Title link
The title link is taken from the descriptive link in the profile you are connected with this person through. WOW that sounded wickeid. In more simple terms. This is the title of the relevant landing page from the source URL that someone has entered into their twitter profile, friendfeed profile or any other open social network through which you are connected.

For twitter it is this link:

Google crawls this source and returns the title of the post most relevant to the search query.

The Description & User Name
As you see the link to the author of the content is not to the persons profile on the social platform but to the source itself. This is interesting as you can draw the conclusion that Google assumes that the owner of the social profile is also the owner of the content he or she links to from their profile. This might deter people to link to wickeid shit just for a simple payday. Anyhow. Moving forward.

The description is taken, just as the title, from the post, tweet or similar that best matches the search query, available on the source your social profile is linked too.

In the end you see the url of the top domain your profile link is linking to.

2. Who will they think you are related to?

Well first of all they will look at all the connections you have in your Google Friend Connect. Secondly they will look at all the people you are connected to through your different social platforms such as Twitter and Friendfeed. Third they will look at the information you have entered into your profile such as where you have worked, how old you are, where you grew up etc.

Fill in all the information. If you are a spammer, then fill in more information than all of it. This will relate you to more people and if you want to play dirty, then that is one way to do it. Google is better at connecting content through people rather than knowing how strong a bond is between you and another person. Thus it is your content that will rank later. The importance now is to become connected to as many people as possible.

3. Optimizing Social Search

The most important thing here is to really figure out what search terms you would like to be associated with. If you are not running 1000 spam accounts so that you can link to all of your content (hint hint) you must select a page on your site that is more or less descriptive of your knowledge.

a. Linking to all your associated accounts

First of all go to Google Profiles and create your profile. You can do this for one person or for all the persons at your company. I would suggest you do it for all of them and then publish the RSS-feed to their individual blog posts, their twitter accounts etc as this will give you a greater likelihood to show up in searches as the sum of all networks available in your company is great.

b. Connecting your profile to other profiles

As I have noted above you should try to connect your profile with as many people relevant for your content as possible. Even by chargning a add-bot on Twitter might be a worth while investment. On many of the searches I have conducted in my test, I see search results from people only following me and not the opposite way around. Ie. I don’t necessarily have to follow them back to get their information in my Google social search results.

Also, if you only fill in the “normal information”. Ie. only information that actually represent you and your social place in the world. You should think to add as many profiles as possible. This will in turn increase the likelihood of you showing up at searches from your connections.

Another tactic is to connect yourself with people you want to be associated with by retweeting their stuff a lot. If Google finds your two accounts as connected then you should also end up when they are out searching for content.

Google also connects you to websites where you have made a lot of comments if that website is already registered in a Google profile. This might be valuable information for you socially active people out there 🙂

c. How Google evaluates your different account sources

You want to be visible for what is most relevant to your business. As you can see for the search “301 redirect .htaccess” that @hessam enlightened me that I showed up for. From what I’ve been able to conclude, Google gives the highest value to content available on the sourced linked to by most of your online profiles.

Make a couple of searches for keywords you know you have content on your website. You will surely show up on one or several of them. If your profiles or source is rich on that specific type of content. You will find a link in the search snippet that you can click on. The link reads “More results from [profile name]”.

As you can see from this result Google gives the greatest value to primary sources from your Google Profile. Secondly they give value to pages that are linked from those profile pages. As you can see quite clearly from above. Google gives the highest value to the post on my blog and this is what is visible in the main SERP. Secondly they give value to a discussion on my twitter profile. Then they give value to a tag page that is linked from all pages of my blog.

4. Conclusion – how to link it all together

The conclusion being that you should link your Google Profile to whatever sources you want Google to associate with you. Secondly you should link all those profile to a main profile from which you want Google to go search for the most relevant content to display for searches.

Except for some small sourcing take aways from this one I think the above is the most crucial.

So I guess this concludes my first lesson on social search optimization. I will probably write some more posts on this as the days go on.

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