If you didn’t already have a reason to use social media to market your business, consider Google’s recent Labs release, Social Search. The feature returns search results (when possible) based on related updates from people you are connected with on various social networks, blogs, etc.
“The way we do it is by building a social circle of your friends and contacts using the connections linked from your public Google profile, such as the people you’re following on Twitter or FriendFeed…” explained Maureen Heymans upon the feature’s launch. “If you use Gmail, we’ll also include your chat buddies and contacts in your friends, family, and coworkers groups. And if you use Google Reader, we’ll include some websites from your subscriptions as part of your social search results.”
Andrew Shotland writing for Search Engine Land sees some tremendous potential for local marketers with this feature. He lays out an example scenario:
Joeâ€™s Pizza in Pleasanton follows me on Twitter. Someone else in Pleasanton whom I have a Facebook connection with searches Google for â€œpizzaâ€ or â€œpizza in pleasanton.â€ Because my Facebook and Twitter accounts are connected in a variety of places (my blog, on Brizzly, etc.), Google can find my relationship to Joeâ€™s Pizza and surface it in the â€œsocialâ€ results section of a search result page, which is a good thing for Joe because he was having a hard time cracking the local search â€œseven packâ€ (local search results placed next to a map on Googleâ€™s Web results pages).
But since itâ€™s highly unlikely that I will have even a one-way social connection with local businesses or Tweets about a local business in many categories (think upholsterers, foot fungus specialists and pet psychics), Google will have to look somewhere else to find socially relevant results. This is where people interested in the same niche and people located in the same area come in. My guess is that these social profiles will make up the â€œbackfillâ€ of social local results when no one whom you have a direct or even indirect connection with for a specific local query has shared any relevant content. And given the tangled web nature of social media connections, my guess that inevitably Google will be able to find a connection that is somehow relevant for any query.
He also offers some pretty good tips in that article.
Of course the search benefits of using social media reach far beyond this Google Social Search of which we don’t even know the full potential yet. Simply put, social media will get you direct traffic, but it will also get you links from others, which can lead to impact on your search engine rankings.
If you want some good information about plotting your social media for SEO tactics, I recommend reading this piece from TopRank Online Marketing’s Lee Odden. He breaks it down into two basic steps: plan ahead and do your homework (don’t worry he elaborates extensively on each).
Also keep in mind that Microsoft and Google have both made deals with Twitter (which means Twitter results in search), and Microsoft has made a similar one with Facebook (with Google expected to eventually).