At the news of Susan Esparza stepping away from SEO and reading her article on Outspoken Media, I “googled” her. I will admit – I didn’t know she existed in SEO until all the buzz on my twitter feed. I know, I know. #Fail. In my defense, my focus has always been web design and I’ve been following more designers than SEO’s. I have recently thrown myself into SEO because I believe any great web designer should understand it. So, to learn more on Susan, I turned to Google and wanted to share what I saw. Not on Susan, but in the search results.
There’s been a lot of buzz about search results in Google returning websites based on social recommendations. It’s clear that social plays a part. And with the addition of the Google+ project, this has become pretty powerful…and exciting stuff in the SERPs. In their webinar yesterday, Rand and Eric showed how Google is even recommending websites based on friend’s Facebook Shares. While this post isn’t groundbreaking news, it’s the first social recommendation I’ve seen from a Flickr account and also got me thinking about stronger social connections.
Here is the example I wanted to share. The social recommendations come from Rand because he has the SEOmoz Flickr account connected to his Google+ account.
These recommendation results are the 3rd and 4th in the SERPs. When I turn off personalization, these results are nowhere to be found (Okay, I went 8 pages deep and found nothing). Again, pretty powerful and neat.
I quickly checked the image search but no social recommendation there yet (yes, I turned personalization back on). However, you can probably bet that in the future if you’re searching for a person and they’re tagged in a friend’s public album, their photo will be recommended to you via social recommendations in the image search!
1 Way or 2 Way Connection
Now on G+, I follow Rand but he doesn’t follow me. He probably doesn’t know me but may remember when I used SEOmoz in my Halloween costume. The results and recommending make sense because I follow Rand, but it’s still somewhat interesting because this is only a one way connection (I follow him, he doesn’t follow me).
What if Rand did know me and connected with me on Google+, resulting in a 2 way connection. Would Google read this as a stronger connection and in return, place the results at position 1 or 2? I haven’t tested this yet, but would like to think Google would see a stronger relationship between us (love ya Rand) and place results higher in the page. If they aren’t doing it now, It’ll be something to keep an eye on.
However, I’m not so sure this will make a difference to searchers. If social recommendations appeared 3rd or 4th (as they did for this search) or even 5th, we’d still read what Rand or any friend had shared. We all want to see what our friends are recommending and reading! As long as Google is placing social recommendations on the 1st page at the top half of the page where searchers can see them, users will read them. To me, social recommendations appearing 3rd or 4th will have just as much value as the top result. Hey, friends are significant. And it’s who you know, not what you know, right?
Oh, that search result returns pictures of Susan from the PubCon conference in 2007. No worries, all is good Susan.
Time to test the 2 way connection to see if it’s ‘stronger’ then the 1 way connection. Has anyone seen a friend’s social recommendation as the top result?
Also, what are your thoughts on the possibility of social recommendations in image search?