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Google is making its +1 button available today to all website owners with the promise of improving Google's search results via recommendations from friends. Google, Bing and even Blekko are all increasingly relying on social signals to impact search results and the search experience. In our "Discussion of the Week," we want to know: Do you think search results are better today because of these social signals? What are the pros and cons of this increasing emphasis on social activity on search results? Do you want social signals to have more or less of an influence on search results? The floor is open!
Comments11 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Moderator
from incrediblehelp 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

This is sort of like the voting system the engines have wanted for a long time.  I really dont see a huge difference in the results thus far.



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from crimsongirl 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have no evidence and data, but I am very skeptical about relying on social signals.  It's the opposite of relying on links from authority sites.  For many topics, the masses of readers really don't know what is quality content the way experts do.  I hate that I sound like a snob when I say that, but for many many fields, that is true.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don't see how we'd be able to know what difference social signals is making.

That said, I do like when I'm logged in, to see the things people in my social networks are saying or recommending based on my searches (as long as I'm not looking for clean results for business purposes).



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from JulieJoyce 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think the concept of having social signals as a ranking factor is nice, but I am too pessimistic to think that people (like myself, ahem) will NOT easily game this. We spam, we buy links, we buy votes, we'll soon buy this, too. People will visit their friend's craptastic website and +1 it to be polite. People who have no clue what it actually means will use the system, which is useless. I also don't really notice results being any different yet. Of course, I'm so used to spammed up results, I doubt it would catch my attention. Now I am going to go drink a glass of sunshine and stop whining.




Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Like others have said...we don't really know the impact of social signals.  But I'm somone who believes that results are way better than they used to be and social is certainly part of that (as is local...as is personalized...)



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from paisley 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

both...

better.. more relevant results.

worse.. more spam


Have been studying social signals since friendster.. which is when they started using the signal, all they had to do was equate social with database listing credibility and match those two signals.

Same thing as links.. just not used the same way.




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from abowhill 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

A good experiment all around. I like the idea of customers managing their relationship to marketers through declarative preferences (VRM) rather than marketers managing their relationships to customers (CRM).


I think this is healthy and would theoretically improve the value and relevance of advertising consumer would be exposed to.

The downside is that giving people search results and other set information that they want, may not be serving their better understanding of the world at large. But that can be said of providing good products and services too.

Also, I don't think corporations should act as the sole proprieter of important user meta-information, because it creates fragmentation of the overall user experience across providers.

This is true of Facebook's "ownership" of people's social graph / friends list or Twitter's followed / following lists, etc.

Meta information like this should be managed and handled by an auditable, independent non-commercial authority, like OpenID, and attached (possibly with some degree of untracability) to your identity. This also applies to your social signals and preferences, which could be shared with any provider.



Avatar Moderator
from hugoguzman 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I'll echo what Jill said. I have noticed results come up because they were voted up or recommended in some way by folks in my social networks, and I do like that. It helps me sift through the noise sometimes.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

For the most part, I feel the same way. I think there's some value in seeing a note that a certain friend/peer has shared/liked some URL in the search results -- or some local business in Google Places (which also mixes social elements into the UX). But I'm not a fan of the Blekko implementation where Facebook status updates and/or comment threads are shown next to search results. Too much clutter and not enough value in that, in my opinion.



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from greglindahl 1274 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt, you can turn off facebook comments in the "prefs".

As for the comments about not being able to see what social signals are doing to your search, on blekko it's always visible. You can search your friends' likes with /likes, and you can sort any result by the # of likes.



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from theGypsy 1273 Days ago #
Votes: 0

OK, for starters I am not entirely sure we can (as SEOs) really state our thoughts unless its from a pure SEO perspective. Meaning that we're a bit to close to search to make subjective judgements. I tend to ask 'real' people (not in marketing) what they think.

But as SEOs, I also believe many have been looking in the wrong direction. It's not about the +1 thingy because that is just Google looking to compete for branding in the button market - know what I mean?

For me it was the social search updates using the social graph (there is an API to play with btw) that came before the +1 which we should have been looking at. Those are based on levels (including secondary connections) of social connections and actually re-rank the results.

The +1 does NOT re-rank anything. The other does. This is the one I have been confused by the lack of discussion on. Much like universal search before it, this has the ability to give us a quick move to the front of the line. Even some recent eye tracking studies have showed that they are getting more attention which of course is what we are after. Add to that the WOM value of recommendations via the social graph API, it is likely to create a much greater CTR as well.

My last ramblings on the matter are here;

So, for the purpose of this discussion, I am not entirely sure the +1 is what we should be looking at. And yes, I believe there are great ops here for SEOs and it does add to the search experience without cluttering the results too much. It is yet another step in Google getting closer to PURE personalization. One of the main issues with it (and behavioural data in general) is potential spam. In a pure personalized enviro, this is next to impossible.



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