I recently had an interesting discussion with a friend about Google+, +1 button, Social Web and the future of SEO. He supports the idea of allowing search engines to learn more about us. He thinks that it will destroy the low quality search engine optimizers who basically just fool small businesses by providing link building and directory submission services. I do agree that many SEO services providers are basically just spammers, filling the web with the junk. But, as a blogger, I also understand the importance of SEO. I think that there are many people offering high quality services and tools to help small businesses get the most out of the search engines.
I personally don’t know enough about SEO to call my self an expert on the topic. However, blogging has taught me a few things and those few things worked really well for me until the Panda Update.
Panda affected one of my blogs terribly and the number of pageviews per day dropped by more than 50%. Google’s algorithms believed that some of my pages are not that high quality.
Since Panda Update, I have become very interested in how Google is determining the quality of a page. Google uses a very complex algorithm to determine how it is going to display search results for a query. To make results more relevant, Google uses information it collects about their users.
Recently Google has indicated that they will be using recommendations from a user’s social circle to enhance search results and offer more relevant content. Tha launch of +1, just days before the launch of Google+ signifies that Google is going to become a more socially powered platform.
In my opinion Google’s social algorithms will (They have started this but in future it will become stronger) determine the quality of a page and it’s relevancy for results based on these social web factors:
- Previous interactions of a user with a website in search results. For example, if you click Wikipedia pages more often in your search results than a page from Wikipedia becomes eligible candidate to be in your top10 results for any query.
- If you have recommended content from that particular website on social platforms such as twitter and Google+ then it gains significance in your search results.
- Your friends have recommended a page by +1, Google Buzz, or Twitter.
- Your friends have shared a page on social platforms.
- Friends of Friends have recommended something.
Not all friends and social contacts are considered equal. You are more likely to click on content shared or recommended by the people you interact with more often. Currently, Google shows social results at the end of the search result’s page with the explanation that someone from social circles has recommended this page. However, the results that are not marked are also some how influenced by social metrices.
How it is generating the top results?
Google is not going to dump the technologies they have developed to display you the relevant results. Social elements will enhance search results but not totally overpower them. This means that your top results will be judged based on other quality matrices as well. Such as quality linkbacks, page load time, keywords matching the content, quality of content, originality and freshness of content, etc.
Now back to SEO, I don’t think that SEO industry is going to die, it will evolve itself and become more involved in getting recommendations from social platforms. Google’s own social platform Google+ is already getting a lot of attention from bloggers, search engine experts and marketers. Search Engine Optimization services providers will evolve into community builders. Most SEO services provider currently offer full fledged social web marketing services. However, the emphasis would be on building more interactive social communities around the content of a website. I think SEO industry is already heading in the right direction.
There are few things that I don’t understand yet. Like:
- If this is how search results will get generated, doesn’t this mean that I will get to see only a few limited sites in my search results?
- Wouldn’t it limit a user’s reach to high quality content from sources other than those that they are more likely to interact with?
- How small content publishers and bloggers would be able to compete with large publishers with stronger brand images and huge social media interactions?