We talk to a lot of clients about the importance of social media marketing and it's increasing importance as part of their search engine rankings and visibility. Today, I want to quickly illustrate why social media and user behavior are critical for a search engine's ability to show the correct results for each users.
Watches vs Watches
Here's a scenario: 2 individuals search for the same thing, Watches.
Without knowing anything about either searcher, Google and other search engines would struggle to return an extremely-relevant results-set. In general, each search engine would have to default to showing very general results which would likely leave each searcher in a position where a bit of browsing will be needed before products of interest are actually found. Let's explore a scenario where both searchers actively participate on Google's social network, Google +.
- Person A: Person A is well-to-do male business executive searching for watches. Person A is also a fan of several scuba diving and luxury brand fan pages. He has stored all of this information in his Google + profile for all to see.
- Person B: Person B is a partially-employed male auto mechanic searching for watches. Person B is married to a woman whose birthday is 3 weeks away and has also recently been shopping for bargain women's watches. He has stored all of this information in his Google + profile.
If Google were able to tie each searcher's social media information (occupation, interests, marriage/spouses information) and previous behavior (previous Google searches and social media comments, 'likes', etc.) to the search query at-hand, a completely different set of search results could be returned. For Person A, a likely results-set might include several higher-end watch brands (because Google knows that this individual is a fan of several luxury brands) and might possibly suggest several diving watches (since Google knows that this individual is interested in diving). For Person 2, the previous search history (discount women's watches) and upcoming spouses birthday (known through social media profile information) would be enough incentive for Google to return a results-set geared more toward discount women's watches, even though this searcher is a male.
While the above scenario is theoretical, it's also very logical. We already know that Google uses our search history to guide future results. The introduction of Google + is another significant step on the part of Google to learn more about searchers and will likely to improve the long term quality of individualized search results.
Why Does This Matter for Your Business?
Simple, the combination of search and social marketing efforts creates a synergy between the two. Creating a social fan base that regularly interacts with you and your products will likely improve your future visibility to them in the search arena in a much stronger way than it already does. In short, it will pay to get fans, keep fans, and engage fans on social networks. Since these social and behavioral cues can greatly improve search results, it only makes sense that these factors will have larger impacts on the future search results. Just another reason to seriously consider your future social media efforts in 2012 and beyond.