Google has changed the way we will see and receive information, but what does this mean?

Wednesday saw the launch of a brand new method of searching the web and ranking pages. How we see and find information on Google’s version of the web has changed forever.

In the past, (from 1997 up until 24 hours ago) web pages were ranked in Google by lots of factors, the main being backlinks, content and relevance.

Whilst these are still important, Google is now focusing on social signals as a prominent ranking factor.

What these changes mean is that content that has been +1’d or recommended by your peers will appear at the top of search results, and pages that have been shared/recommended by your friends within your social networks will start to be ranked higher. In essence It’s all about making web search as personable as possible. However, in typical Google fashion you can choose which set of results you wish to see. E.g. you now have the option of seeing results that are personal or non-personal. In a nut shell, the old communication fable of word of mouth, now takes a top spot in Google’s ranking algorithm.

We have seen evidence of this happening before, where search results could be influenced by social listings. The guys at SEOMOZ ran an experiment where if you were to query something whilst signed into your Google account, you could see results from Facebook, as opposed to searching for something in Google whilst not signed in. Pages you have liked on Facebook would start to rank. For example if I have ‘liked’ a cafe in Glasgow’s Facebook page, and searched for \”cafes in Glasgow\” whilst signed into my Google account, the cafe page I had ‘liked’ from Facebook would rank.

Google is now doing this with its new search results page. This means that recommendations of pages from friends who are in your social circles will also start to rank. This is what is meant by people referring to \”searching your social world\”

In essence this means that the way SEO is done has changed forever. As well as the existing strategy that we use of centring around content, the focus is now shifting towards getting people to plus one our pages. What this means for us, is creating what we call evergreen content. Content that will be relevant for a long time, as opposed to say a brief press release focusing on a limited time offer.

This is something we have been doing for a while and that we have anticipated at Levy McCallum. Our shift in strategy when creating social updates for clients now encourages more interaction with Facebook and Twitter posts , but it’s now something that we should start to do on web pages, and in particular, web pages containing products.

At the same time however, we can’t lose focus on the other search engines. Yahoo appointed a new CEO last week who was previously the CEO of PayPal. In his press release he talked of \”Driving customer engagement based on technology platforms.\” This is precisely what Google have just done. Also Bing and Twitter signed an agreement in September, allowing tweets to be sucked into Bings real time search results. Bing also sucks in likes and profile searches due to a similar agreement with Mr. Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. So it’s worth keeping an eye on the competitors of Google and seeing what they are doing too.

This is a very nerdy thing to be telling you all about, but Wednesday was the biggest shift in search marketing strategy since search marketing began. Google have moved the goalposts towards content sharing rather than content relevance and authority and the people who are the forefront of this can anticipate rewards in the form of a rise in the rankings.

Here is a good video explaining the changes we are seeing from Digital Sherpa

Is this an exercise from Google in filling the vacant Google plus network? Or is this a genuine attempt in making search as personable as possible?

Ewan