Search & Social – you can’t get the cream out of the coffee

January 11th, 2012 – 45 Comments

Yesterday, Google launched “Search plus your World“, intermixing search and social and providing even more “personalized” results. There’s a lot of outcry about some parts of this, with people saying they don’t want “personalized” results. I actually think that normal users do want personalized results and that this is, for the most part, a good thing.

There’s been some outcry though, because Twitter and Facebook aren’t “highlighted” as much as Google+ in those new social results. Danny is doing some awesome reporting on this, first in “Search Engines Should Be Like Santa From “Miracle On 34th Street”“, later in an interview with Schmidt.

Google used to have access to the Twitter firehose, all the tweets coming in in realtime, enabling them to index tweets at light speed. Facebook used to show some friends of a person on a profile to visitors to that profile who aren’t logged in, now look at the cache for my Facebook profile: just other people with the same name.

As I said in a reaction to a Google+ post by Jeff Jarvis: what both Twitter and Facebook are afraid of is that they’re “giving” “their” social graph to Google, thereby allowing Google to easily grow its own social network because it would make it very easy for Google to suggest friends to you or say “these friends of yours already use Google+, shouldn’t you use it too?”. So by opening up, they’d open their books to a competitor.

This, ultimately, should be a users choice, not a platform choice. When it does become a user choice, of course Google should favor the social network the user is the most active on, so if I’m more active on Facebook than on Twitter or Google+, it should highlight that above the others. Right now, it seems to be mostly highlighting Google+, which will raise some eyebrows here and there and is food for discussion.

A while back at the first Fusion Marketing Experience in Brussels, Bas van den Beld of State of Search interviewed Olivier Blanchard and myself about search and social. We talked about how the two intertwine and can’t be unraveled, in fact, as Olivier said during the interview: “it’s like coffee and cream, once they mix you can’t get the cream out of the coffee”. See the interview here (the sound is not the best ever, I know):

The thing is: this is a done deal. There’s no way back. Search and social have now officially teamed up, so you might as well live with it. It also means that not using Google+ is… Not really an option if you’re a marketer, but I guess we had that one coming for a while as well.

So, what does this mean from a tactics perspective? For now, it means: share every post on Google+ too, make sure you have Google+ buttons on your posts and, most importantly: keep building relations with people! It’s not like that much changed; social mentions might have become a new and maybe even important ranking factor, but even quality links are usually the result of a relation, of social interaction.

The formula to success didn’t change: you have to keep building relations / followers / an audience, create great content and make sure people notice it.

45 Responses

  1. Richard
    By Richard on 11 January, 2012

    I’m REALLY curious what Facebook’s counter move will be. A (facebook) webbrowser with integrated search?

    • Ivan Dimitrijevic
      By Ivan Dimitrijevic on 5 February, 2012

      It’s hard to say anything about FB future moves on this.
      I am sharing an opinion by Lee Odden that it’s adopt or die time for everyone in the SEO related business.

  2. TIgor
    By TIgor on 11 January, 2012

    As far as I know Microsoft Bing uses facebook likes same way for a long time. Microsoft has a part in facebook, so facebook won’t share social information with Google.

    • Conor Hughes
      By Conor Hughes on 12 January, 2012

      Why? Microsoft has everything to gain from Facebook getting bigger and being intergrated in to the big old search engine of the web would mean more profit. Surely?

  3. Ardant
    By Ardant on 11 January, 2012

    I guess that’s one way to force businesses into using G+ (even if their clients aren’t).

  4. Gayle
    By Gayle on 11 January, 2012

    Very interesting, when Google+ came out I heard it should be on every site and get using it, I didn’t realize it was such a commodity. Nice to keep up with this stuff, thanks

  5. Heidi Caswell
    By Heidi Caswell on 12 January, 2012

    Does it matter if the G+ site is a personal account or business page? As long as my blog is just me, I prefer using just my personal page rather than managing 2 accounts.

  6. Red Chilli Photography
    By Red Chilli Photography on 12 January, 2012

    I am currently posting to a personal page G+ as Heidi is and am just confused as to best practice.

    • Ciprian
      By Ciprian on 13 January, 2012

      Just like @Heidi, if you don’t have a branded business/site, posting to your personal profile is the best.

  7. Ben Hunt
    By Ben Hunt on 12 January, 2012

    Joost, interesting to note that you see G+ as a requirement for marketers. That’s still niche though. Yesterday I posted about the implications on all of us of this becoming the platform for Web3.0. Google Search Plus Your World – What it Really Means

  8. Justin Mazza
    By Justin Mazza on 12 January, 2012

    Google + has been a great way for me blog to build some authority and yes I have a Google + button at the bottom of each of my posts.

  9. Hooker
    By Hooker on 12 January, 2012

    It will be interesting to see how this affects SEO since there will now be more links to contend with in our fight for front page Google ranking.

    The Google+ jury is very mixed from what I see, but something we all obviously need to research and watch.

  10. Gary Anderson II
    By Gary Anderson II on 12 January, 2012

    I was inside the dashboard of a client of mine (I’m a small-timer, but still having fun) when I saw this inside the dashboard.

    Thank you Yoast for keeping us up to date. I have become a bit of a Search and SEO nut :P


  11. john
    By john on 13 January, 2012

    I suppose Google is the dominating the field and driving everyone their way. One way is that what they are trying to achieve is positive especially with the growth in social networks. Thank you for the post.


  12. Warren
    By Warren on 13 January, 2012

    Is no one going to point out that they search Google to find websites/ answers to questions/ specific things that they don’t currently know the location of. If I wanted to search Facebook…I’d search Facebook, same with twitter and Google+. Maybe some people want to see such results. But whether its just Google+ or all the SN’s, the results from them will just force me to scroll down to the ‘real’ search results from websites.

  13. Craig Cacchioli
    By Craig Cacchioli on 13 January, 2012

    Good article. Hopefully, this will pan out to be a good thing. Interesting to note that Google is the least favoured “Share” option on this post.

  14. Michael Simmons
    By Michael Simmons on 14 January, 2012

    Thanks Joost,
    I was especially interested in hearing if there are new “tactics” that should be employed because of this. I really like the analysis that “even quality links are the result of interactions. I will certainly be setting up all of the sharing/social options for articles.

  15. JNsites Website Design
    By JNsites Website Design on 14 January, 2012

    Thanks for the great post, I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on this.

  16. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    By Caitlin @ Roaming Tales on 14 January, 2012

    To extend the analogy, surely you can get ‘black coffee’ by logging out of your Google account and deleting cookies?

  17. Ramandeep Singh
    By Ramandeep Singh on 14 January, 2012

    Thanks for highlighting these awesome points. Seems like i need to be active on Google+ more.

  18. Mike
    By Mike on 14 January, 2012

    These social features are good addition to Google, but I think that Google is trying to push these social features too much in search results.
    My point is that search results should be affected by social but these Google+ posts in search results doesn’t make sense for me

  19. xiangge
    By xiangge on 15 January, 2012

    I love this plus.

  20. Jeff Downer
    By Jeff Downer on 15 January, 2012

    The new dynamic is not that there is a a new search. It’s that there are now two searches. Personal and “universal”.

  21. Mitch
    By Mitch on 16 January, 2012

    Video is really bad quality both in audio and video quality. Im sure the result would of been better if it was indoors so you wouldnt hear the traffic… good video btw

  22. Pramathesh Borkotoky, KraftInn
    By Pramathesh Borkotoky, KraftInn on 16 January, 2012

    I believe Google has been tracking our behavior from a very long time giving us relevant results which sometimes acts to our advantage and sometimes not. It is just that it has become official. It would be however interesting to see the new change. However, websites have to faster with the loads of scripts for climbing the social ladder.

  23. Vanguard Prainting LLC
    By Vanguard Prainting LLC on 18 January, 2012

    Thanks for the great article. I still haven’t delved into using Google+ however it looks like it is about time to do so.

  24. Amber
    By Amber on 20 January, 2012

    Yargh, I don’t know how I feel about this. If they start publishing my search parameters to my Google+ in real time, or even a summary, I’ll respond by using Bing. Haha, but in all seriousness, as I understand it, many people find it difficult to get results relevant to them out of Google searches, so this might help most people. I myself have never struggled to find what I was looking for, although it is a fact that I grew up learning how to find things on my local public library’s computers, once those became more popular and the old fashioned card catalogs went the way of the dinosaur, so I may just have the logic of searching beat into my brain by hours upon hours spent at the library.

  25. NosferatusCoffin
    By NosferatusCoffin on 20 January, 2012

    Google+ is like the Chevy Volt. No one wants it, but it is still shoved down our throats. At least the taxpayers (for now) are not footing the bill for it.

    Sorry, but on my client’s sites as well as my own sites, almost no one ever “likes” a story or article via the G+ button, but Facebook and especially Twitter get a lot of action. Why? Because, no one wants to manage two accounts for publishing essentially the same content to a similar platform. They have better things to do.

    So simple, you would think even Google could figure it out. Then again, considering they have never authored an app worth a damn, I suppose I am not surprised that they keep trying to breathe life into a dead one.

  26. David Knockton
    By David Knockton on 22 January, 2012

    At the agency I work for we have been mixing search and social tactics for over 2 years now. We have now fully integrated the search teams into the social teams so that all of our digital efforts are optimised to the max! On my personal site I built it around search and social, mainly because I didn’t have any PPC budget, and it works just great – each posts gets about 5 Likes, 25 Retweets, 15 Other Shares and a couple of G+ which, for a small niche site is quite good. My issue with G+ is the personal/business pages – they’re crappy and there are no vanity URLs yet.

  27. Brett Cairns
    By Brett Cairns on 23 January, 2012

    Was only a matter of time before this integration took place. The product is out but it needs a lot of improvement to be useful

  28. Paul
    By Paul on 23 January, 2012

    Good article! As you say it, Google insists for every webmarketer to have one G+ account. This raises the question: has Google become too much important? Hopefully there’s still competition in social networks (for now) but one might think they’re going to be leaders in this area as weel as search engines.

  29. Rogelio
    By Rogelio on 23 January, 2012

    It was only a matter of time due to Google’s SE monopoly. I dislike the +1 option but it is here to stay as Joost mentions.

    Does this mean that we should all go crazy then with putting +1 icons all over and optimizing for Google+?

  30. Jamie Hibbert
    By Jamie Hibbert on 23 January, 2012

    I have realised over the past week or so that while I am link building google is watching and potentially seeing what I am doing. When I go to look at a blog network to see if it can add value to my site, when I check out the SEOmoz blog, whatever I do google can see. They could easily with an algo profile me and my name and use this in the future to effect sites they know I author. Am I paranoid or is big brother watching me. I pray that bing grows and and puts pressure onto google. The web is becoming a worse place at the moment, we sculpt links to our liking, no webbing the worls like we should – thanks google!!

  31. Olaf Pijl
    By Olaf Pijl on 23 January, 2012

    Great post, thanks! Still, it seems that the adoption of G+ is kinda lagging in Europe. It’s hard to convince clients to start using it when usage is minimal. I can imagine that many companies are waiting for critical mass, and early adopters can already start making a head start!

  32. Ali
    By Ali on 24 January, 2012

    This is a great one.
    Does this mean that we should all go crazy then with putting +1 icons all over and optimizing for Google+?

  33. Mark
    By Mark on 26 January, 2012

    For me Google Plus seems to be very business oriented, I have experienced that most of my business contacts are there, but my regular FB friends are not active G+ users. One thing I have noticed is that the more Plus one votes site gets, the better it ranks in Google search.

    As a reply to previous commenter I would say +1 icon should be on your site (not all over:)) because you want to stay in competition.

  34. Lucas
    By Lucas on 30 January, 2012

    De Google Plus lijkt nog enigszins achter te blijven heb ik het idee. Echter juist omdat het Google is zal het uiteindelijk in kracht winnen en dat maakt Google wel heel erg machtig. Meer knoppen zijn dus nodig om een gezonde balans te houden en zijn er ook, alleen daarmee doemt er bij mij gelijktijdig een probleem op. Ik beheer een spiritueel paranormale website waar rust en uitstraling belangrijk zijn. Enerzijds wil ik om deze reden niet mee, vanuit internetmarketing is het een ja. Ik vind het lastig om de balans te vinden tussen al die knoppen en de uitstraling van je website. Mocht hier nog een goede programmeur tussen zitten die advies weet, ik sta er voor open.

  35. Lucas
    By Lucas on 30 January, 2012

    Google Plus lijkt nog enigszins achter te blijven heb ik het idee. Echter juist omdat het Google is zal het uiteindelijk in kracht winnen en dat maakt Google wel heel erg machtig. Meer knoppen zijn dus nodig om een gezonde balans te houden en zijn er ook, alleen daarmee doemt er bij mij gelijktijdig een probleem op. Ik beheer een spiritueel paranormale website waar rust en uitstraling belangrijk zijn. Enerzijds wil ik om deze reden niet mee, vanuit internetmarketing is het een ja. Ik vind het lastig om de balans te vinden tussen al die knoppen en de uitstraling van je website. Mocht hier nog een goede programmeur tussen zitten die advies weet, ik sta er voor open. (Sorry vorige link werkte niet, dat bericht mag gewist worden)

  36. Niall
    By Niall on 31 January, 2012

    Nice article. I tried using Google+ and +1 and it’s grown on me slowly but surely!

  37. Sasha Jones
    By Sasha Jones on 6 February, 2012

    Google established system for share information with the other Google products, creating a detailed profile of each user based on the personal information gleaned from use of those products

  38. SiteDesignZ Web Design SEO
    By SiteDesignZ Web Design SEO on 6 February, 2012

    As a provider of web design and seo for small business, the changing landscape starts to become increasingly frustrating for my clients. I feel like Im constantly championing the latest technology to them and now starting to feel like a snake oil sales man. Hoping G+ is the last social platform to influence search marketing for w while. ;)

  39. Liselotte Henriksen
    By Liselotte Henriksen on 7 February, 2012

    I really dislikes G+ and I really hate the fact that I have to use it :) I still cant find out if the Google plusses is helping on your rankings.

  40. Niall
    By Niall on 11 February, 2012

    I must admit, I prefer personalised results but I can see why some people don’t like how Google gets those results.