August 27, 2010

Checklist for Social Search

There has been some talk about social search, but I lack the complete guide to it, the general reflections and the updated know how. Very few people have conducted real tests and there is generally only guesses out there. I have studied search within Facebook for some months now, perhaps that’s why I’ve focused so much on Facebook in my blog posts. However, there is more to social search than just what “the book” has to offer.

Social media as the #1 referrer

No matter how things work in different algorithms and how pages rank in relationship to each other, it is quite evident that social aspects are becoming increasingly important for search. For many news pages, social media has become the number one referrer and we are seeing some evidence that websites in the travel vertical and other such experience/story based content websites are moving towards the same pattern.

Traffic is one thing, what about conversion

I’ve covered social media and conversion in some of my older blog posts. If you seem to get an increasing number of non-converting visitors from social media, you should probably have a look at those. Or perhaps flip through my latest keynote on Social media money.

Social Search – yeah… how to get the traffic…

But I’ve already written about that and want to post a fluffy Friday post. Thus, I’ll continue writing about traffic. What you have to think of when optimizing for social search is that you are dealing with two types of searches.

  • Content that you search for
  • Content that finds you

The general idea behind social content search is that content closely related to your network ranks better than content that is far away from your network. In practice this means that Google will index search results that people closely connected to you have shared, whilst Facebook will rank content that is liked by many of your network buddies.

The general idea behind content that finds you is such content that is being posted to news feeds and that is being discussed on the real time web. This means the content currently ending up in top list directories for tweets, that is currently being posted to your query tabs in TweetDeck and that is being liked, commented and re-shared in the news feeds of Facebook. You do not search for this content but you search for what’s on the mind of the person sharing the content. The person behind the share is in focus rather than the share itself. If you’re in the same mood or have an opinion, you too will share the content to your network listening in on what you are thinking.

I’ve thought about creating a method on how to rank in social search engines, but I sort of realize that this is too much of a deal as I would have to cover so many aspects. However, this blog post shall give you a short list on how to plan your work in order to sort out the unnecessary and thus also increase your focus and likelihood of success.

  1. Start off by creating a list of technologies where you want your content to be findable.
  2. Make an inventory list of what kind of content people are sharing on those platforms.
  3. Have a look at your content (now back at me, then back at your content), does your content resemble what is being shared on the desired platform.
  4. Turn your content into social objects by making them shareable (Ie. turn it into content you find people are sharing on the platform) and indexable by the platforms of your choice – as an example you can read my post on how to index and rank on Facebook.
  5. Make your objects easy to share. For example create news releases about product pages, create videos for tutorials, create images and other easily consumable content available. Ie. make it web content.
  6. Make your objects easy to interact with and connect them to the social platform. For example, add comment fields, ratings and such interactive ingredients.
  7. Oh… yeah… start talking to people online… or create a sophisticated bot to do it for you (me)
  8. Choose social sharing buttons with care… perhaps don’t add them at all, but think of how to integrate the sharing into how the user interacts with your page – the like button is an exception as it just as ratings is a statement which is induced by the reaction of the user “liking” the page – something I should write a post on… anyhow..

Please continue in the comments field. Have a nice weekend.

2 Comments
  • Birger Hartung, August 28, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jesper,
    I would recommend to listen to the media before getting into the conversation. IMO it is not about creating content that WE think people are interested in.

  • Marek, September 9, 2010 Reply

    Great Post.
    Very interesting slideshares too...

    Seems like Google Instant is going to make this even more important.


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