ATTENTION EVERYBODY. I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE.
Are you ready? Hold your breath…
OMG. BING SOCIAL IS HERE AND IS GOING TO KILL SEO. #OMGRUNLIKEHELL.
No, just kidding. Although I can assure you those accusations are running more rampant than bulls in Spain. While this is most certainly a game changer, it’s nothing that’s going to kick out SEO. Just something that SEOs will learn to shift, adapt and work with.
Search behavior is a paradox; when researching search behavior and attempting to identify trends, we’ll start to notice behavioral patterns among users. We then start to tailor our search marketing according to that behavior, which then kicks off a new behavioral change in the user. Paradox.
That’s why I’m pretty curious how having a purely social search will play out.
Enter: Social Search
Unless you’ve been hiding in a closet or buried in your work, I’m sure you heard the big announcement that Facebook gave last week. Bing will now have something called “Social” where users will be able to search and have results according to what’s being publicly published on personal profiles and pages. What kind of impact will this have on search behavior?
According to SEOmoz, 62% of users clicked results on the first page, whereas 28% ventured into the second and third page. I’m thinking these numbers will change dramatically when users start searching through Bing’s social search.
Changes in Search Behavior
One of the main drivers of search behavior is simple- people want to find relevant and useful information. And indicator of relevancy isn’t always where on the SERPs a result is placed- there’s too many factors that help place them at the top, so it’s only natural that what you want may not always be what shows up for you.
One element of human behavior is the trust that they place in those close to them. If you read a review on Rotten Tomatoes about a movie, and the review said it was a 4/5 and one of the better movies of the year, would you trust that over 5 of your friends saying it was “so-so” and probably not worth spending money on?
Probably not- you would tend to side with your friend’s opinions for this simple fact:
Those in social circles tend to like the same things, whether that’s by choice or by reaction.
With Social Search, the search engine will be more user intuitive simply because it’s linked to your social circle. Bing Social’s sole purpose is to bring you information you almost definitely want to see.
If you friend has recently posted a link on Facebook, and you’re too lazy to search through their page and find it, you can go into Bing Social and do a quick search to bring up friend-relevant links for the term you’re looking for.
This will cut searching time in half because you won’t be searching through tons of pages in hopes of finding what your friend shared.
What Should My Brand Do?
Before you make any hasty budgeting decisions and start dedicating all your money towards social efforts, understand this:
You don’t need to pick one or the other. They are going to essentially work hand in hand.
- Traditional SEO will help you rank higher in SERPs when users are searching the traditional way
- Building out your Facebook pages/applications and making shareable content will help you display in Bing Social
Your brand should already be implementing some social aspect to your campaigns, but if you want to take full advantage of Bing Social, you need to understand that user’s search behaviors are going to change within Bing. Users are going to Bing Social with the SOLE purpose of finding content that their friends are sharing and to make decisions based on what their social circle finds on a topic.
They won’t really be there for any other reason.
By having shareable content, and implementing all the necessary steps to assure that you content can be shared on Facebook, you can allow people to share your brand with their friends. In turn, their friends who search on Bing Social can see that your brand has been shared by THEIR friends.
My Test (That Failed)
In attempting to find some screenshots and things to analyze for you, I realized that since this hasn’t been rolled out long, I could NOT find anything that my friends have shared, no matter how general the term.
I was searching for “pumpkin” because my friends on Facebook have been mentioning pumpkins left and right (might this have to do with Halloween? Me thinks.)
Sadly, my plan was foiled and nothing shared came up.
But… do you notice something?
Recommended users in the sidebar showing up where sponsored links normally do on regular Bing search.
We all know Starbucks has Pumpkin Spice for their special fall flavor, and Bing Social picks this up and shows Starbucks as a recommended user on Twitter.
Bing Social is not only helping us find what our friends are sharing, but also suggesting users according to our search phrase. The question is, what is Starbucks doing to get shown on the side for Pumpkin? These are acting somewhat like ads and I’m extremely curious on the workings behind it.
I tried a really (and unfortunately) super popular search term to see what good old Bing Social would bring me.
I can assure you that anybody who loves Justin Bieber and has Twitter will follow the last two accounts if they aren’t already. +1 for Bing Social, and for those who are being identified as recommendations.
I then noticed:
You can also expect that news will be showing up highly relevant in shared links, because news is probably one of the top things shared online.
My Inconclusive Conclusion
This is really too new to examine further, seeing as most of my friend’s updates aren’t showing up at all yet. I tried searching a bunch of things (even general terms such as ‘Halloween’ that I know my friends having been talking about and sharing) but nothing is showing.
Until I can actually play around with this more, this is where I’ll have to leave it. What I can say, is that instead of fearing that all of these social changes will kill SEO, how about we understand that this is just a whole broad spectrum of changes that will change the WAY we implement SEO, rather than something that will push it out of the way.
For brands, you’re going to want to keep employing traditional SEO efforts.
Don’t get caught up in all the magical sparkles that come with social search.
You are, however, going to want to expand your efforts and work towards building your brands on Facebook so that natural sharing will occur within this platform. Once you start doing this, you’ll start to appear in the Bing Social results pages because friends will be sharing within Facebook; which will then trickle into user’s search results on there.
If you really want to dominate as a brand, utilizing both traditional SEO as well as Social is definitely going to be the way to go. Don’t dedicate your whole budget to one or the other… roll with the changes.
If you want to see us show up in Bing Social, “Like” our BlueGlass fan page and share away! Otherwise, follow us on Twitter for some fun industry updates… and also to hear about our bacon infatuation.