Social Search: Changing the Game on Search Engine Rankings
The advent of social search changes the game for marketers. If in the future Web users, not just site owners, are able to associate keywords with a site and influence its position on the major search engines, how can search engine marketing be successful? Here are some steps to take now:
1) Evaluate as a marketer.
The first step is to determine how social search is affecting the company today. Visit Web sites that use tagging and perform searches to see how people are tagging the site. If the keywords are off-base, it might be just one visitor’s perspective. But it also could be that the Web site is failing to provide relevant content for a given keyword from the user’s perspective. Perform searches on Google and Yahoo! for blogs that are associated with the company or products, and once in those blogs, gauge how visitors feel about the company, Web site or products.
2) Participate as a user.
Join some of the sites that use social bookmarking and tags, and experience the process firsthand. Create a set of bookmarks and tag some sites to understand the experience. Try out Wikipedia, blog sites and other media that are relevant to the industry.
3) Translate findings and observations back to the site.
Evaluate the company Web site and make sure that the current user experience is a good one. Remembering that users already are discussing a marketer’s site and those of its competitors, consider the insight gained through the evaluation given on social sites, and then apply that knowledge and insight to the site. Perform usability and user testing to make sure that processes on the site such as checkout, registration or content accessibility are easy for visitors.
Marketers should keep in mind the basics of search engine optimization and social search, monitor industry developments to understand search influences, and provide a good Web site user experience to help deliver excellent user reviews. These principles together will help move a company in the right direction as social search gains ground.