Social Search: Changing the Game on Search Engine Rankings
A recent report from global Internet information provider comScore indicates that more than 750 million people conducted online searches during the month of August 2007, and that amounts to 95 percent of the world’s Internet audience.
These days, no one questions the value of search engine marketing — but there remains uncertainty about specific search marketing strategies and tactics. Increasingly, marketers are hearing about — and are being compelled to evaluate — social search. Should companies be paying attention, or is this just a phenomenon that will pass?
Since its inception in the mid-1990s, search engine optimization has been a necessary marketing practice for winning brands. Although the process is technical, and often affected by IT decisions relating to Web site development, the intent of search engine optimization always has been about marketing. The benefits of a company’s Web site appearing near the top of search results might still be unclear to some marketing practitioners, but most that rely on the Web for leads or sales — or, as in the case of nonprofit organizations, for potential donors and supporters — immediately understand the value of ongoing SEO evaluation and refinement.
Meanwhile, the Web has not stood still over the years, waiting for everyone to catch up. Increasingly, users are taking control of the content, whether through blogs or sites that encourage participation. Wikipedia is one of the best examples. The “wisdom of crowds” often makes Wikipedia a source of information regarded by its users as delivering a higher degree of accuracy than many other places online. On Wikipedia, users are able to contribute content to subject categories and can edit content submitted by others. The result is content that is agreed upon by the online community at large. And through its search-friendly architecture and volume of content, Wikipedia often is listed among top natural search results.