On the surface, having recommendations from a search user’s online social connections appear in the standard web SERPS may seem like bad news from a search marketer’s perspective. It means that there is yet more content competing for those limited spaces on the first page of the SERPS for any given search term. Then again, if you are creating compelling, useful and… that word again… relevant content for your target audience, the stuff that is being recommended in those social search results could easily be yours.
Social search emphasizes the need to get out and engage with your customers in the social arena, to create useful, compelling content that is worth sharing, and to build enduring relationships with the people you want to do business with. The integration of a social element into search results is growing in importance, and while there are privacy concerns and other stumbling blocks that need to be overcome, ultimately the search engines’ obsessive quest for relevance is turning search into a very personal experience.
The Knowledge Graph and conversational search The Knowledge Graph was officially launched in May 2012, and has significantly changed the SERPs and the way that users process and digest information. It displays information in entities rather than on a query level. Google understands that when you search for ‘Brad Pitt’, for example, you could be looking for information about his past or upcoming films, his biography, or his date of birth, so it shows you all this information based on what it determines is your intent.
If you follow this search with the query ‘who is his wife?’ Google has already decided you are talking about Brad and will show you results for Angelina! For local searches, for example searching on a town or city, we now see a carousel at the top of the SERPs, inviting us to click and explore ‘things to do in the city’. What does this mean to business? We’re back to content again because with the Knowledge Graph, Google is giving users the option to stay within the SERPs for longer, as they scan information based on their search.