Social Search and the Future of Finding InformationPosted by on March 30, 2010 at March 30, 2010 9:20 AM
As the web becomes more social, so will the ways in which we find information. Here's an interesting article on social search from the Harvard Business Review, discussing what many experts believe to be the next phase in the search evolution.
Social search assumes that we will no longer need to rely solely on traditional search engine algorithms to provide us with the information we seek. Instead, information will be offered to us based on more social factors, such as content we've previously posted, read about or shared with friends. It may also include content our friends have read about, posted or shared online. Mainly, focusing on these factors will make our search results much more personalized, and come to us in the form of a trusted recommendation versus the standard text link to an unknown source. Other thought-leaders on the topic have taken this concept a bit further to something loosely referred to as the "predictive web" - a platform that serves you with information it predicts you want, before you even ask for it.
We're already seeing social search come to life. Take Twitter hashtags, for example. They allow a group of people to create custom keywords and isolate and track a conversation on a topic or event in real-time. Prior to this phenomenon, we've had make-do with static search results, which are primarily indexed through factors like meta tags and the number of links pointing to a particular Web site. Speaking of, Google has also been experimenting with the concept of social search. Here's a brief video tutorial from the company discussing their initial approach, which is still in BETA:
As search becomes more social and predictive, your company's online presence will almost certainly be affected by this shift. People will likely prefer content in the context of their social sphere. Traditional SEO is still important in the near-term and will most likely remain relevant in the future, especially for assets like imagery, video and news articles. But focusing on a comprehensive social media strategy is likely what's going to keep your company's name in the conversation when people are searching for similar products/services online.
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