Is Social Search a threat to SEO?

I think it is, and I tweeted so  yesterday.  And the reason is obvious. What is SEO about? Ultimately, it is about one thing: the ‘website’. It’s about making a website and its pages discoverable, ranked favorably in search results, described appropriately so that searchers hook on the description etc.

But ‘websites’ are not ‘in’. Check the diagrams  from Google trends for websites below.

Website traffic for 5 major IT companies
Website traffic for 5 major IT companies
Website traffic for the 2 major consumer goods companies
Website traffic for the 2 major consumer goods companies

While the overall number of people online is increasing, the visits to the web sites keep falling.

At the same time the volume of searches for these brands shows a completely different picture.

Search volume for the 2 major consumer goods companies
Search volume for the 2 major consumer goods companies
Search volume for 5 major IT companies
Search volume for 5 big IT companies

In the last 12 months CG companies see a volume increase or remain steady (amidst the crisis) while, for IT, a longer perspective reveals a mixed picture that has to do with what these companies are and technologies they offer:

  • oracle and ibm are gradually decreasing,
  • apple is increasing,
  • dell  increases too  although less quickly,
  • and hp seems to hold its ground or slightly decreasing.

But there is an equally important movement undergoing: people shift their reliance from search to peers for news,  recommendations and answers.

I don’t remember how many times and about how many things I  have asked my twitter friends’ advise. And it always comes. And most of the time  it’s good too. Not so  abundant as  search results, but who reads search results past the first page anyway?

Enter social seach. Google injects results in search from our social graphs (opt in). I don’t have to reason the usefulness of this.

What should we expect? What else than  these two inversely related trends accelerating?  Less reliance on search, more reliance on peer recommendations.

There are some interesting implications here: SEO consulting and search advertising have profited from our reliance on search. Search won’t go away anytime soon, especially with the social element in it. But what would be the need for SEO? And what would be the need for adword advertising, if the important factor in search results turns out to be our peers?

Is Google shooting its own foot?  So it seems. But I am sure they have figured it out already and they are thinking of alternatives.

Google yourself and see … your past item sharing!! (???)


Quite accidentaly I stumbled upon some search results that look very weird to me: I googled my name/nick  in various forms and started browsing the result pages. As to be expected, I found samples of pages from all the social networks I am registered in, but, from the page 10 of results onwards, I started seeing familiar pages but quite unrelated to me.The familiarity came from the fact that these were pages I had shared recently in Google Reader. Yet, what I saw in the search results was not my shares items, but the original articles or posts, which are, linguistically, quite unrelated  to the terms I googled. They are semantically related though!

Have a look and dare to explain:

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Chrome: all these cool little things!

I keep experimenting with Chrome,  Google’s neat new browser, ever since it appeared. Now when I use gmail, greader or gcalendar and happen to work on a windows PC I use Chrome instead of Firefox. I work on windows for office task, linux for development and mac for fun, in case you are interested.

Chrome is so much faster and I love the tab independence feature (i.e. when something ‘breaks’ in a tab, the rest keep working).
But I also keep using it  for the discovery experience it offers.
Chrome is minimal: not many toolbars, no separate search fields, no arcane menus for configuration. Yet, most of the goodies that we are used to from the other browsers, are there somehow. And more.

My latest discovery has to do with the in page search. Chrome has the seach box on top right and, as in firefox, it appears when a Ctrl+F is pressed.
Again, like firefox, typing a word in the search box highlights all the occurrences of the word in the page, something really convenient. But here Chrome offers something extra: it also highlights the position of the occurrences on the slider on the right. Take a look at the picture below:

I searched for the word “web” on the front page of this blog.In the picture you can see some of its occurences highligthed plus some orange lines on the slider on the right. These are the positions of the occurrences. So, once in a pretty large page,  you can slide quickly to the proper position!

It is these little details that make the difference from  “good” to “excellent”.