The New Social Google and what it means for SMEs

It’s official – Google and Bing have compounded the growth of social media by introducing real-time results from sites like Twitter and Facebook to their search results. This development means that it is more important than ever for small businesses to have a presence in social media, and to get their messages right. Read on for an article from Jennifer van Grove of OPEN forum offering more information and tips for adjusting to this new world of social search, or click here to view it on the OPEN forum website

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On Wednesday, October 21, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Google’s Vice President of Search,Marissa Mayer, made two important announcements regarding search.

The first big piece of news is that Google will integrate real-time Twitter search into search results. The second ground-breaking tidbit is that the search giant will be unveiling Google Social Search in just a few weeks.

These aren’t your everyday announcements. Both have major implications for social brands and present huge opportunities for small businesses. Let’s take a look at why.

Tweets Matter

Twitter search tools have always been important resources for finding out what people are saying right now on any given subject matter, product, service, or brand. But tweets have been largely irrelevant to online users not using Twitter. That’s about to change forever, as both Google and Bing have announced integrated real-time Twitter search. Bing’s product is a separate webpage, but Google confirmed that their offering will include tweets integrated into standard search results.

Essentially this means that tweets matter more than ever, because they will be exposed to mainstream searchers. All the good, bad, and ugly things ever said about your small business or your competitors are now ripe for perusing by the common web searcher. Having a social presence, especially on Twitter, is now mandatory.

Say, for instance, you have a disgruntled customer who decides to tweet their frustration. Somewhere else in the world another individual is searching Google for a service provider in your industry, but their search returns the aforementioned negative tweet, replies, and retweets. You’ve now lost that sale. The situation is exacerbated if the Twitterer in question happens to be highly influential.

But, should you be using Twitter for your SMB, see the negative tweets pop up, and engage with the naysayers to try and remedy the situation, your customer service tweets will also become a part of the search experience. Since it’s a real-time integration, your tweets are actually much more likely to catch the eye of a searcher over the older tweets from the disgruntled customer. you can actively change the real-time dialogue about your business.

Customers Rule Search

Google Social Search is equally just as important to understand if you’re an SMB. The basic idea is that when you search, you’ll now be able to see contextual and relevant search results from your friend connections on the social networks you’ve added to your Google Profile. While Social Search will be launched as a Google Lab feature, and will be entirely opt-in, it’s likely to become one of the most popular extras ever introduced by Google.

I use Google for everything, for quick spell checks, finding restaurants in my immediate city, geeky gadgets, good books, startups and web services, directions, and especially local services. Now when I search, I know I can scroll to the bottom of the page to see what my friends, across all of the social networks I belong to, have said about my search query. Because these social search results are the filtered, uncensored blog posts, tweets, status updates, and photos from people I know, they will serve to guide me in making better decisions about where I spend my dollars both online and off. Your business could be the top result, but if I see that my friend on Facebook thinks your product is mediocre, I’m not buying.

While your ability to rank high in search listings is still important, and don’t forget that social media does improve SEO, what really matters will become what your customers say about you online, and my relationships with those customers. Your social media presence, or lack thereof, can drastically alter and affect what get said about you online. And since we know that search will be a contextually social experience, you need to be participating in these online discussions about your products, services, and competitors.

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