Social Annotations Taking Over Search – Is SEO Doomed?

As an industry, we tend to enjoy whipping things into a frenzy when something new materializes and change occurs. Despite the fuss and mayhem though, the dust always settles to something less than apocalyptic and we’re left with something new to consider. That’s exactly the case with Google’s way of displaying search results based on social signals.

In the past, content was ranked based on just a few primary factors:

  • Accessibility
  • Quality & Value of Content
  • Proper Keyword Optimization
  • Editorial Link Profiles

With a shift in focus to include social annotations in search results, Google is changing what gets displayed. Now, pages that would normally dwell in relative obscurity are finding their way to the first page of Google when people within your network share the content.

The sharing can occur in a few different ways such as tweeting or liking content, but the primary focus of Google is on the +1 in search results. Those within your network can easily see the +1 and site shares that you prefer to visit.

In the case of someone within your network, Google plunks the search listing with a photo and name of your contact, creating immediate social proof which undoubtedly increases social proof. It’s proven within social media networks that when people see a subject with a list of friends who like it, they’re more likely to “like it” themselves. If someone sees a particular business that’s frequented online by friends they’re more likely to click through and visit.

Does this potentially have a negative impact on SEO? Some think so – but I think it’s quite the opposite.

The web is all about sharing, and Google wants to move search results away from a flood of poor quality content. They want people to see the most relevant thing related to their interests. As this is scaled out by Google, the reach of your social network will have a substantial and positive impact on the sites that you share within your social circles. Share your own content across a vast network and when your contacts search for relevant information you have the potential to increase your own search traffic without pumping thousands of dollars into paid links.

This is more than just gaining rank in the search results however – it’s about extending your network and influencing that network to see the content you want them to see within search results. Google is rolling it on in force and Bing is coupling with Facebook to offer the same thing in a much more direct manner.

By no means does this mean that original ranking factors are any less important. There’s a reason that people share that content or like a site; because it offers something of value. This is where people stumble when they’re blinding by the possibility of change. In order to get people to recognize value in your content and your website you have to provide valuable content – makes sense right?

It’s only when you have quality content that you will start pulling off shares, likes, retweets and recommendations within the LinkedIn network.

Keep in mind also that these recommendations only come through for users that are actively logged into their Google or Bing accounts and allow their social networks to be integrated. A large portion of your customer base likely isn’t using personalized browsing – making original ranking factors just as important as they always were.

Study the social annotations and how you can leverage them but don’t forget about the race you’re currently running if you want to maintain your presence in the search results.

Still based on quality content – people will share quality content giving you more visibility.

To Your Success,
Joerg Weishaupt

P.s. Get more information on social media and marketing in my free primer "Building A Successful Marketing Strategy". Sign up for your free copy today.


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About Me


Joerg Weishaupt is a 49 year old entrepreneur, software architect, search engine optimization and social media expert. Joerg has been building a lot of profitable Internet businesses since he put his first website online in 1995. He is also one of the founders and partners of Social Media Science LLC, where he launched a content syndication network called SYNND.

Joerg resides in a small, quiet community about 100 miles outside of Munich, Germany. If you ever seek to find him, look for where the cows gather.

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