Earlier this year Google announced that new Google Social Search Features Went Live and more recently Google responded to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land that, like Bing, Google uses social signals as a ranking factor in search results. I have a feeling that with the latest growth and advancements in Places Search (Google, Facebook, etc…) combined with the recent changes in the Google search results for the 20% of queries that have location or local intent, Social search will be the next big factor combined in Google’s new blended search results algorithm.
Essentially, Social Signals + Place Rank = Yellow Pages of tomorrow.
The challenges, for Matt Cutts and the team of engineers with Google’s Web Spam Team, as it pertains to local search, has been the constant need for Google’s policing and scrutiny of ratings and reviews to ensure the authenticity of the local listing reviews. Many of the reviews in Google Places originate as a review on another site (we SEO Geeks call these “citations.”) Just recently Google made an algorithmic “manual tweak” due to a recent claim that a local business was treating customers bad in order to rank higher on search engines. If Google makes a better effort to incorporate social signals, branded term distinction, and incorporates a “QDF” or Query Deserves Freshness type mentality on local listings and results, it will be able to fight the future Facebook impact on local search. Facebook, the king of social, has the greatest ability to own the SMB repeat and referral business market.
In short, the days of making buying decisions based on limited information in a single display ad, like the yellowpages, are over.
My other predictions for 2011:
- Social search will continue to evolve and it will become a replacement for rating and review spam. Google will continue to work on challenges with Google Places reviews.
- Google TV will motivate Google to partner with gaming console companies like Nintendo (Wii) and Sony (Playstation.)
- Video will become the new website of 2011.
- Even more scam artists and other folks who are wet behind the ears about holistic search marketing will claim to be a SEO Expert. (BE VERY CAREFUL, the latest local SEO scam is by those that claim to help remove negative reviews on Google Places, including the actual practice of putting the review on and then calling the local business to help remove the negative review!)
- Facebook will allow users to create custom background layouts and also allow users to report layouts they find inappropriate.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from Me and Mine to You and Yours!