This post was actually written by my Co-Founder, Alan Hamlyn, CTO @MarketMeSuite. At the time we didn't have a SMT profile for him, but now we do, so stay tuned for lots of great stuff!
Quick bit of info. What is SEO? Search engine optimisation, where website owners hope to influence search results in their favour. What is Personalised search? Its where search engines like google (mainly google), are tailoring results based on browsing habits, and what your friends are tweeting, liking on facebook, or sharing on google +1. SEO has been something for debate over the ages - is it really effective? Is it really something that we can influence? For a long time I believed that it could be influenced, especially 5 years ago, but less and less during recent times. Many people, all over the world, have hailed themselves as SEO guru's, and the biggest shakeup of that is about to occur, or many of them will find themselves obsolete...
Introducing, Social Search... ta da!!
This isn't new, in fact if your a Google user its something that you've probably seen cropping up in your every day searches - results which your friends have also shared on Twitter, and more recently, your friends who have +1'd something interesting. This is influencing results. Don't believe me? This is pretty easy to confirm, find a good and trusted friend (if you have one), Google a keyword you believe you rank well for whilst signed in to Google, and get your friend to do the same and compare the results. They will be similar, but with key differences.
SEO Experts often don't know what social media is...
Unlike myself (with a full head of hair), many SEO experts/gurus are ageing, they are from the age of H1 tags, HTML (1.0) and are even sometimes a bit senile, simply by asking them about Twitter, Facebook or Google +1 will often result in a puzzled face, followed by "what's that?". But more importantly for you, website owner, is what it means for you. It's the end of being able to manipulate google results based on just playing the algorithm alone.
Content is not King - Good Content is King
Real People are something I despise (being a social recluse), but now essential to improve your search engine rankings - probably for the better too. Now you just can't churn out keyword heavy articles, your actually going to have to churn out content that people will read too!! I know - amazing, people have to actually like it.... otherwise you know what, they wont +1 it, tweet it, or like it on their facebook wall. But now you need to make sure your site is social search optimisation ready...(thats a new phrase I just coined SSO). So if your a wordpress blog consider:
- Always tweeting your own posts when they come out
- Always facebook liking your own posts.
- Install free plugins like "Digg Digg"
- Encourage your lovely user base to Retweet your content and like your fan page.
- Optimise the positioning of your like, tweet, +1 buttons for maximum clicks. The end of the article is pretty rubbish ok...
I think page rank is something that has been dwindling in importance for years anyway, and I think social search is the final nail in the coffin too. Sure page rank will probably always exist, but I think its just a minor ranking factor, one that shouldn't be obsessed about either... Things may change to be not 'What is your site page rank?', but more 'How many twitter followers and Facebook fans do you have?'.
Social Sources VS Search Engines (Traffic Referrals)
This is another change in the wind too, many, not all, depending on your industry, are finding that social media is actually a better traffic source than search engines anyway, with some sites getting more traffic from Facebook than Google, this is certainly true for brand new sites, which often take time to gain traction with Search engines, can be an overnight hit due to social media Retweets, or like campaigns - pretty cheaply too (often even free). One has to wonder if some will actually even ignore SEO altogether, and focus on social optimisation instead, but time will tell. One thing is for certain is that Search engines are starting to play catch up, Google Plus, and +1 are obvious signs of this, though Google has been unsuccessful in the passed with failures like Google Buzz, Orkut (though popular in Spain), and even to some extent the recently discontinued Google Wave - maybe 4th time is a charm.