When Facebook announced they were releasing Graph Search, I think the world as a whole was a bit underwhelmed. While it’s not unusual that the masses miss the mark when something big happens online, this was an announcement that should have received a lot more praise than it did. Graph Search is something that is going to revolutionize the way we search, and I think with the blurring lines between traditional SEO and social media, the future is going to be one that searches socially.
I’m not suggesting that people are going to start running to Facebook each time they’re looking for the best interior design schools, or a new Snuggie, but social search does have some merit when it comes to searches performed with local intent.
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical situation.
A quick Google search of “best Italian restaurants San Diego” brings up Google Places listings, Yelp reviews and a few Italian restaurants that are at the top of their SEO game. What it doesn’t provide me is something that Facebook does, suggestions based on what my friends like.
I don’t base all decisions on what friends like, but when it comes to trying new food, servicing my car or finding a cool place to hang out on a Saturday night; my friends recommendations are definitely something I’m interested in seeing.
Google can’t provide this data, yet. Maybe once Google+ matures, they’ll have the data that I need to make a sound decision on who has the best cannoli, but for now, I’m sticking with Facebook. I shouldn’t pick on Google here. Yelp, Urban Spoon, Bing – none of these places can give me recommendations based on restaurants my friends like.
Facebook is on to something, and the rest of the population is looking the other way. Whether Graph Search catches on or not is irrelevant. Google has taken notice, and don’t think that they aren’t altering future algorithms to give more weight to the “human” vote of confidence.
Social & The Future of Search
Some reports state that social indicators (shares, retweets, +1’s) are already more important than incoming links. This isn’t exactly news, as we’ve seen Google systematically destroy search manipulators for the past couple of years. While it isn’t exactly headline material, it does show that the future of search is a blend between traditional organic search and social media.
No longer are links the sole target for smart SEOs. Now, they’re after your vote of confidence via recommendations in the form of a share, or a retweet. Never before has the consumer wielded the power to determine the search placement of a business, but that’s exactly what we’re on the cusp of seeing. While Graph Search may not directly change the future of SEO; the idea is one that – coupled with current search trends – is going to increase the rate at which Google moves away from backlinks, and toward what matters, your vote of confidence.
Of course we’re still in the infancy of actually seeing this way of thinking come to fruition, but we’ve already seen thought leaders in the SEO space comment on the disappearing weight of the backlink, and the rise of not only social indicators, but instances of co-citation.
Co-citation is simply the act of mentioning something (without linking) in accordance with something else.
For example, mentioning “social media blog” and Social Media Today in the same text gives Google the idea that the two phrases must be related. Get enough instances of this happening, and it begins to factor into where sites are ranked for certain keywords.
Search is changing for the better. Gone are the days of keyword dumping, spammy anchor text and shady SEOs that make a living by automating the entire future of a company with software designed to artificially inflate backlink totals.
The future of search is directly related to what it should have targeted all along: you.
(image: consumer-controlled SEO/shutterstock)