In January, Google released Search Plus Your World, a type of customized search that allows Google + users to receive personalized results and profiles of people they know and follow. Microsoft made news recently when they entered into the social scene with Bing’s Social Features. The two search engines are attempting to become more social by integrating search results with users’ social networks.
In the case of Google, users have the option to switch between personalized and unpersonalized results by clicking either the person or the globe icon at the top right of a Google result page. These two buttons only appear when a web user is logged into Google+. The personalized results show up intertwined with the normal search results, giving users a variety of options.
The downside to Google’s social initiative is due to policies; they cannot show Facebook or Twitter results. Since Google+ does not have as much activity as Facebook or Twitter, it cannot always show the social content some may be looking for. Google pulls information from sources related to your search and public posts from users, but it typically only shows information from pages you follow.
This is where Bing has an advantage. Bing has partnered with Facebook giving users the option to connect their Facebook pages with their Bing search results. Bing Social has decided to show results differently than Google, as their unpersonalized results are in a main column on the left side and the personalized social results show up in a gray column on the right side. Because users allowed Bing to connect with their Facebook profiles, the search engine can access data that is restricted to Google results.
Bing also has another feature with their Snapshot column which is located between the search results and the personalized results. This area features results when looking for hotel, flight, restaurant reservations, etc.
In the Social column, Bing highlights three sections: Friends Who Might Know, People Who Know, and Activity.
The “Friends Who Might Know” section shows friends who have similar likes, profile information, and shared photos to your search.
The “People Who Know” section also searches other social media sites such as Twitter and Blogger to show experts on your search request.
The last section, “Activity,” shows what your friends have recently done on Bing, including searches they have shared and questions they have asked. Bing has entered the social integration with a strong competition to Google’s Search Plus Your World.
Impact on SEO
For SEO marketers, this means there is an opportunity to really understand customer behaviors and adjust to their needs. According to Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, “there is a positive correlation between the number of retweets and shares a link received and its search ranking.” The more a link has been shared on social sites, the higher it ranked on search results pages. Web users are becoming connoisseurs of content, so brands should produce content that is both interesting and will promote interaction that will keep consumers coming back for more.
With many strategic options available, it is always good to start by creating optimized content that can be promoted and shared. Social sharing options can be found all over the internet on websites to mobile applications and can impact SEO rankings and increase page views. Consumers do not often plan on sharing an article or their latest product find until they see the option to do so.