Guest

Google +1 and the Future of Search

By: Guest | May 5, 2011 | 
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Sean McGinnis consults with small to mid-size customers about DCAL – Digital Customer Acquisition and Loyalty. He blogs about SEO, Internet marketing, social  media, leadership and a variety of other topics at 312 Digital.

At face value, the new Google +1 seems like their latest foray into the world of “social” but it’s really much more than that.

The +1 button is an incredibly important play for Google, one that will help build the future of their algorithm if widely adopted by Internet users.

Let’s step back for a minute and then I’ll explain.

Search Engine Progress

Search engines got their start by returning the most relevant documents to a search query. But relevance is a very easy thing to spoof, and search engine spam became rampant. So, search engines developed a method of calculating authority by looking at the number and quality of inbound links to your site. Today, essentially search engines return sites that are both relevant and authoritative. But authority can be manipulated and gamed too, so spam continues to be a problem for search engines.

After years of excluding links from social media sites from their algorithms, recently the major search engines started including links from sites such as Twitter and Facebook. In fact, there was a very recent study done that concluded a very high correlation between the sharing of articles in social sites and top search results – especially sharing on Facebook.

The reason these links are being counted is they represent a new type of signal that is more difficult to game, which helps lead to better search results (so far).

The Semantic Web of the Future

As we web users divulge and share more and more data on the web, the semantic web, or web 3.0 is beginning to take shape. The semantic web is a future state where the links between people, places, things, groups, events etc, all begin to have meaning and context. Think about the amazing amounts of data that are available today to companies, and what could happen if search engines had access to those snippets of data.

No longer would they be forced to rely only on page content and inbound links to determine search rankings.

Right now the biggest (or only?) threat to the Google juggernaut in terms of the search game is Bing. Its size or technology is not what creates that threat, however. It is their relationship with Facebook that poses the biggest threat to the continuance of Google search hegemony.

With unfettered access to Facebook data, Bing may actually be able to build a better mouse trap.

Google +1

More than ever, I’m convinced Google is not interested in actually being social. Instead, Google is interested in the signals that a social ecosystem can provide them in their quest to make search better for users. Google is not fundamentally social. Google’s DNA is search, search, and more search. But they have to get social right if they are to have a chance at staying ahead of Bing for the next decade

Editor’s note: Sean McGinnis knows his SEO. Please join him and the Spin Sucks Pro team for our May 19 webinar on SEO Insights for Online Marketing. The registration isn’t ready yet on Spin Sucks Pro, but you can send me an email with your interest.

Sean McGinnis consults with small to mid-size customers about DCAL – Digital Customer Acquisition and Loyalty. He blogs about SEO, Internet marketing, social  media, leadership and a variety of other topics at 312 Digital.

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