I just checked out Google’s new Social Search experiment. The idea is that Google can index information from your social network and display relevant content in your search results. For more detail read Danny Sullivan’s post on the launch. Here’s Danny’s summary scenario on how the system could work:
- Google sees I have a friend on Twitter
- That friend links to their blog from their Twitter profile
- Google understands that they are connected to that blog
- The friend’s blog has a link to their Flickr account
- Google may understand, then, that the person I know on Twitter is also related to their Flickr account, even if that account wasn’t listed on their Twitter profile
I tried it out for a number of local seo and local search queries and it seems like the system still has a ways to go before it gets local.
Search Query = “local seo”
Now I am a big fan of Lyndoman, Chuck Reynolds (thanks again for the Wave invite!) & Bill Hartzer, but I am curious why these guys show up as most relevant to my “local seo” query. I would have thought that anyone with a social profile connected to the top results in Google for local seo would be in there, but it looks like some combination of Gmail connection plus the strength of the profile’s social network is a big factor here. There are few of us who can out-social Lyndoman and Bill has been a fixture in SEO circles for a long time so his network is likely huge and filled with others with large networks. I am guessing Chuck’s Google Wave connection puts him over the top for me.
Search Queries = “local search engine optimization”, “local search optimization”
No social search results.
Search Queries = “pizza”
Looks like Chuck likes pictures of food. Perhaps no one in my social net lives near me or has written a review of a local pizza joint, but you’d figure if Google shows a 7 pack for a query that the social results would also have some local intent.
I tried a number of other local searches, particularly those that targeted categories and profile names of nearby businesses that I am connected to on Twitter and came up empty-handed every time.
Google Social Search is obviously very new and I am guessing they will get better at surfacing relevant local content as they develop the service.
Bottom Line: This is a big deal. When Insider Pages, Yelp & JudysBook first started the goal was to make social recommendations a centerpiece of the search experience. Now Google appears on the path to making it actually happen (note to Google – I think Judysbook has a trademark you might want to check out). I think this brings up a lot of opportunity in the local search arena – and a lot of potential for spam – if a spammer can infiltrate your social net they should be able to easily surface for a number of local queries where your real network has no data, which at the get-go should be 90% of all queries.
My advice to all of you local search optimizers out there – for now keep your friends close, and keep your friends with strong social profiles who can get ranked for those local search queries even closer
and speaking of local social here’s another one Cherrp