The Real-Time Search And Social User Experience

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on December 7, 2011.

I was reading a post by my good friend Mark Jackson today about the balance of search marketing as being a combination of both art and science. I couldn’t agree more, and have had this discussion many times over the years in both this column and with many in the industry. One of the comments in the article also reminded me of a topic I have spoken a lot about over the last 10 years, and that is about including the “search experience” as part of the “user experience.”

Traditionally, this experience was relegated in web design as the “top down” approach, looking at user design and experience in a bubble. The reality is that the experience begins before users enter a website, and search has long provided a valuable window into how UE can be improved with search at the core. As the commenter pointed out, SEO is on a trajectory more towards user-centric design than pulling in traffic via keywords (though this is certainly a key aspect of user-centric design).

Thinking about search and social UE changes when viewed in terms of engagement, as opposed to attraction by the sole means of fishing via keywords. Engagement through optimization is as much about advocating for a searcher as it is about optimization. Of course, by advocating for the searcher or user, you must perform market research, keyword research, and create personas with the search experience in mind. By advocating for the searcher, you produce a more relevant experience which ultimately helps fulfill the goals of the marketer as well.

I am very fortunate to have long worked with a creative, user experience, and information architecture practice, and have helped to inform and drive these processes with search at the strategic core. As a result, our view of UE has strategically changed. Yes, it can be viewed from the top down, but it can be relational in the sense that it is “outside-in” as well, with the user experience starting at the point of entry, be it a search engine or a social network. The challenge for UE groups is rooted in the question about “what is being done for a person entering your site from a search engine,” especially when this initiating experience may begin with 20-50% of all site traffic, and drills down into every part of the site. If your design does not answer this problem, then the full picture has not been considered for UE.

But to the original commenter’s point, search is delving deeper into advocacy for the searcher through relevancy. Ultimately this is about solving a problem, or satisfying intent in some way, shape or form. It goes beyond just content, and into real-time interaction as well. If the solution does not present itself and become self-evident at the point of consumption, then real-time interaction can also provide a method of relevancy. Social has its own parallels to search, many of which I have also described in detail over the last few years. The difference is that the experience is offsite and off-asset, and requires a human and conversational touch, while still solving a query intention, or a problem. Clearly, one evolving element in the modern approach to SEO is in search user advocacy, but also the parallel aspects of advocacy via social and content, with a search frame of mind.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/163720/the-real-time-search-and-social-user-experience.html#ixzz1rlUJI5om

Meeting Conversational Demand: A Factual Vs. PR-based Approach

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on January 19, 2011.

This article builds on my last column, “Understanding Conversational Demand in Social and Search,” which I would recommend reading first.
I looked at social conversation assessment in my last column, so the parallels should be more apparent now between query-based search demand, versus the aspects of “conversational demand” and their respective authoritative content supply. Make no mistake about it: social networks are a massive foundation for query and navigational behavior that most often mirrors and reflects what is happening in search. Think of the questions being asked in social as being their own queries of sorts, questions that may or may not be met by an authoritative answer. Just as a brand considers it a basic exercise to ensure that their own digital assets rank highly for brand terms in search, they should be aware of the brand conversations going on in social, and meeting them with a live community manager who also acts as an “in-the-moment” steward of a brand’s content.
The comparative aspects of conversational demand and the early history of search engines are tremendous, with particular regard to the fact that many search queries went unanswered without an authoritative content result or without a conduit to the proper answer. By addressing conversation demand at the brand level for both brand and generic themes, an opportunity exists to interact with these audiences in a sincere, useful and meaningful way through live content and conversation, and in a way that also greatly benefits the brand or marketer.
As I go about advising my clients about these activities from a search and social perspective, I have identified a few different broad obstacles that get in the way of effectively measuring and acting upon search demand, and even more so for conversation demand. When a marketer goes out to measure the space for either brand or generic terms, or brand and generic conversations, there is a broad commonality that breaks into two key areas: The factual, and the more PR-based and sensitive questions about the brand. There are other areas that commonly addressed, but for this article the focus will remain on the factual, versus the (often) confrontational.
Often the show stopper for any work that includes the word “social” is determined by whether or not a company perceives the marketer to be attempting to “encroach” in any areas that might otherwise fall into the area of PR management, crisis management, brand management, etc. This is a problem that is more reflective of large organizations and enterprises in the sense that they consider and lump anything “social” as part of a channel, or owned by a certain group organizationally, and have not come to terms with the fact that social is something that runs through everything. Just like search, social is not a channel, it is not a campaign, and it is not a small department sheltered off from the rest of the organization, perceived powerful, yet effectively powerless and destined to have the networks swing them by the tail of their brand promise. So the marketer who wants to effectively use social is often completely shut off and locked out of the process because of the incorrect perception that they are encroaching on somebody else’s territory. Again, this is the not the fault of the contemporary marketer who is just trying to do their job, and to the contrary, it is a problem that will come to bite back at the organization’s overall marketing efforts, and in many cases land them back at square one. No sour grapes here, because I work with both search and PR organizations, and across many different aspects of an enterprise. The above example could also apply to other areas of an organizations with the activities reversed, and the point is that the problem is really about social hoarding at the enterprise level.
In assessing conversation demand, marketers should focus on the factual, not brand problems or crises But what puts everything into perspective for marketing and PR is that both keywords and conversations can be divided into either the factual, or the PR/crisis-related. In this filter, the duties of the marketer and communications pro are clearly divided, in a useful and meaningful way.
Extending this concept out into conversation demand, a marketing team has more freedom to address the factual happenings around their brand in various networks, and address them in a live setting, and also create and direct networks users to the proper factual content.
For example, if you conduct an audit of various conversations around the internet about your brand, you may find that people are asking about a well-known facet of your brand history or value proposition that is already available on your web site. Converse with them, and point them to the link. Or maybe they want to know about a new store location that is not already on your website — create that page, help them out by answering their question, and point them to a site if more info is warranted. You can answer questions and create content about the facts of your brand and generic conversation space all day long. In every vertical space, the conversation opportunity is so massive that you may not to even cover it in a broad manner for many years.
Those questions about why the brand may or may not have spilled oil, may or may not have bed bugs, or may or may not have a defective product can be left to the communications team. But for marketers to address factual conversational demand in a sincere and meaningful way, there is more than enough to be done.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/143249/meeting-conversational-demand-a-factual-vs-pr-ba.html#ixzz1rgywoyrC

Understanding ‘Conversational Demand’ In Social And Search

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on January 5, 2011.

As I continue along in my sporadic series about brand content publishing in a real-time marketing environment, today I’m going to touch on the concept of assessing “conversational demand,” in social and network marketing, as opposed to just “keyword demand” in search. For a deeper background and foundation on this topic, I would also recommend reading the following columns: “Marketing in the Moment,” “More on Marketing in the Moment,” and “Ramping Up For a Bigger Content Publishing Strategy.”

Understanding search demand

To better understand “conversational demand,” it helps to first consider the concept of “keyword demand.” Keyword demand simply means to look deeper and more strategically at keyword metrics, at both a macro and micro level, for the purpose of benchmarking specific themes and topics being sought out in search. A strategic digital content plan takes keyword demand into fundamental consideration, and also considers the available content supply for the given keywords and user search language being assessed. For a couple of examples, think about a gap analysis comparing your own supply of content that matches the search lexicon of your given category in assessing how much opportunity exists for your own company or site; and also consider the amount of content being provided by both direct and indirect competition against the same or similar set.

Though the concept of creating content to match keyword research and volumes has been a basic mantra of search marketing (both paid and natural) since it began in the mid-late ’90′s, it seems that brands are just now beginning to wake up to the possibilities of actively producing content on a massive scale to meet ongoing keyword demand. Clearly, the gap between the amounts of content produced by 99.9% of major brands versus the demand is staggering, and can be decreased by simply embracing the concept of active publishing and real-time marketing. As I’ve stated in previous columns, new companies will be built on this concept, and others will start to lag far behind, or even get crushed in the fast moving world of real-time marketing.

Understanding conversational demand

While the concept of “keyword research” and “keyword demand” may not be so new, the concept of conversational demand may considered entirely new for lagging enterprise brands, but it is just as important in cultivating a solid real-time marketing strategy with search and social at the core. Brands embracing real-time search and social publishing must be fluid, and active in production and engagement. Being active means being alive and in the moment in a web landscape that is moving instantaneously, in terms of both content creation and assessing what is on people’s minds at any given time. Content strategies are anything but passive, even if the goal is to achieve content success in search alone, particularly because search engines look to active social cues in how they determine results for a significant number of queries.

But being active and agile means being engaging with your audience, and also knowing that conversation is content. Other factors in being successful with social content strategies (as a result of analyzing conversation demand) include:

1) Knowing what your audience is looking for

2) Knowing where they seek it out

3) Knowing how they communicate

4) Knowing which types of digital assets are critical

5) Communicating back properly, with the right answer, in the right way, with utmost sincerity, and with a strategic approach in mind

Determining and assessing conversational demand is much more complex than assessing keyword demand, which is often successfully accomplished with a good keyword tool, and a good brain. Social conversation demand is much more subjective, and can be assessed in a single network, or a variety of networks. The main methods used are the same, though: good tools, and good brains, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. Your company’s answer to assessing conversational demand might exist on either Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, comments on blogs, answer sites or any combination of those.

But again, keep in mind that once you have assessed the demand that exists in conversation, you have to work toward meeting it with your own content and conversation, or else the exercise is moot.

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Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/142393/understanding-conversational-demand-in-social-an.html#ixzz1rgymRkji

New ICANN Domains: The Birth Of The Search-Optimized gTLD Registry

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on July 20, 2011.

Back in 2008, I wrote a couple of columns for Search Insider about ICANN’s new vanity generic top-level domains (gTLDs), where a person or business could now register “.anything” for the purpose of creating an open registry, or reserving it for primary brand sites (see “Anythinggoes? The Impact Of New ICANN Vanity Top-Level Domains,” and “The Search And Brand Impact Of Vanity Generic Top Level Domains”).

There have been many stories promoting this new development as a boon to one’s natural search presence, but I beg to differ on a number of those points. One thing is clear, though: Marketers using new gTLDs will not only have to manage their sites for search and social visibility, but will also have to manage the entire gTLD for natural search. We are entering what I believe is a new frontier in search marketing, in terms of managing an entire gTLD for search visibility at a global domain level.

First of all, the claims made in other articles that new gTLDs will inherently create visibility for highly competitive terms are incorrect propositions at best. The history of other gTLDs like .travel, .museum, .info, .asia, .jobs, etc., have already proven that having the exact keyword to “the right of the dot” alone does not provide any more benefit than having an exact keyword to the “left of the dot.” Some of these domains have been around for almost 10 years, so there is no need to prognosticate on the benefits of keyword-based TLDs, because the proof is already there.

The birth of the search-optimized TLD

I do believe, however, that we have entered a new era of the “search-optimized” TLD, in the sense that the way the operator manages the registry will be a key influence on how well that TLD performs in search as a whole. Well-managed TLDs that discourage spam, or that may be proprietary, but with significant content resources and utilities, may perform well. For example, .mil and .gov are generally highly trusted TLDs with the search engines, because they are carefully managed, and contain authoritative content, with little or no possibly for spam to gain visibility. In another example, .info was not managed very well for search, and at one point the registry gave away hundreds of thousands of free domains. These domains were snapped up mostly by spammers and abused in many ways with the engines, and thus the signal for the .info gTLD as a whole was weakened greatly, to the point that may be somewhat of a search liability to build a new site on this extension.

There has to be a solid content play behind the URL, with a significant amount of external signals for it to perform well in search across a wide variety of terms, if not to overcome some of their spammy neighbors on the .info TLD. Even recently, Google banned an entire subdomain on a country-code TLD (ccTLD) and freehost from its search index, because most of the content at the domain level was considered too spammy and malicious for the index.

A warning about site migration

One of the biggest challenges in enterprise site redesign is transitioning and maintaining natural search equity from one design to the next, even when the old and new reside on the same .com address. As some brands may choose to move their primary brand presence from .com to .brand or .keyword, they have to be careful for the sake of their search program. At stake are millions to billions of dollars in revenue, backlinks, traffic itself, and years of positive search history.

But there are interesting opportunities from a branding, marketing, and utility perspective. Imagine using a URL like “keyword.google” to go directly to a Google search, or having a well-managed .music gTLD that was able to help users navigate to the music they desire.

Overall, marketers should tread very carefully if they decide to move their primary presence from a .com to a .brand or .generic, and approach SEO in the same way they would approach it for a complete site overhaul. And they should also be very careful about optimizing their brand gTLD for search channels as a whole. For right now, though, I’m advising most clients to potentially acquire and reserve a gTLD, but wait on actually developing it, if they do anything with it at all, short of a 301 redirect to the brand.com.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/154429/new-icann-domains-the-birth-of-the-search-optimiz.html#ixzz1rlTQmkBJ

Search Beyond The Desktop

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on December 8, 2010.

My last installment of Search Insider contained a list of columns that I’ve written over the last several years that pertained to search and Web design. In this installment, I’m going to discuss and list more of my columns that may hopefully cause you to think about search in different ways.

While it is easy to pigeonhole and skew the search process into a sort of linear, “searcher conducts search, searcher makes purchase” type of mentality, I’ve long prodded Search Insider readers to consider the possibilities of search beyond the simple text box, and beyond the desktop. To the contrary, and from both a technical and neural perspective, search engines can be as complex as human beings themselves. So here are a few of my own favorite columns from the last few years — and why I think they may be worth a reread.

Google Bombing and SEM is Evolving into ‘Search Engine Activism’: By checking out the motives and tactics of online activists, the value of search is expanded beyond direct response and branding. This column includes a list of some of the earliest search activism campaigns, and a basic definition of the concept.

Perspectives Of The Search Engine Activist: Ethan Zuckerman and Chris Bowers both indulged me on their perspectives of activism in the search engines. While many of the tactics may be similar to search marketing, their definition of a “conversion” is changing your mind, and/or capturing your attention.

Deconstructing Search Engine Bias: Any discussion of search “bias” is somewhat linked to that of “SEM tactics” (natural and paid). My discussion starts with legal professor Eric Goldman’s paper on the topic of search engine bias. I expand his one PageRank example to include other optimization methods that are well known to marketers, but can also be handy for the average searcher to think more critically about results.

Google Trends: The 2008 Democratic Texas/Ohio Primary Post-Analysis: Google search popularity is often touted as a “political oracle” in that it can mirror election outcomes. In this nonscientific analysis, I proved that search popularity does not necessarily equal a corresponding election outcome.

Keyword Analysis of The McCain And Obama Acceptance Speeches: After reviewing a Wordle tag cloud in the New York Times that seemed to be lacking a few key concepts, I decided to run the speeches through an old-fashioned keyword frequency tool. The results offer interesting insights into the subconscious overtones of the candidates’ messages.

If Search Engines Could Talk: Confessions Of A ChaCha Clickstream: I put this engine to a test for the term “bass,” it was amusing, to say the least. If an engine could talk back in 2007, it might sound like this.

The GoogleBalt’s Great American Road Trip: Five Street-View Optimization Tips: In light of Google’s brilliantly surreal and unprecedented experiment in deploying a physical search engine, it occurred to me that we now need to start optimizing ourselves and our property. Street View Optimization (SVO) is born.

The Death Of Street View Optimization: Less than a week after I invented Street View Optimization (SVO), word is leaked back to Mountain View, and Google mounts a campaign to nip this one in the bud, lest they have another pesky SEO-like problem to deal with.

20 Funny, Clueless, Weird, and Existential Google Keyword Searches: Sometimes the topics of my column find me in odd ways. This one started with a lost set of keys.

Search Engines In The Physical World: Over the last few years, it has become very apparent that the search engines we are used to dealing with — those being mostly cerebral, via desktop search — are beginning to morph into something entirely different when considered in a mobile environment (mobile, in this case, meaning any situation that doesn’t require the user to be chained to a desk to conduct a search). While many marketers are still just getting a basic grasp of SEO and PPC, things are skewing at a rapid pace into other areas away from the desktop, like branches sprouting from two trunks growing out of the same tree.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/140860/search-beyond-the-desktop.html#ixzz1rgyZfksA

In The Long Run, Balance Wins The Race

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on September 29, 2010.

One of the main issues I encounter in search is how to balance approaches with other areas of the online marketing swarm, namely content development, public relations, social media and networks, and Web development. Each has its own critical importance to natural search performance, and depending on who is in charge, search can either enhance each respective discipline, or it could also come at the expense of that discipline. The best option is to balance all considerations in such a way that everyone wins. And the good news is that it can be done.

It’s worth stepping back and assessing whether or not SEO strategy is complementing the overall strategy, or running over it. A sustainable search program shouldn’t have to come at the expense of any other discipline to provide incredible benefits to businesses and marketers, and the ideal output is an experience that considers the findability of content across all disciplines, in addition to meeting the search demands of those who are trying to find something.

But overzealousness on any side can create a mess. Slopping in SEO purely for search gain sucks, particularly when it comes at the expense of forming intelligible copy, usable aesthetics, and talking like a real person (not a robot). In the same way, developing a site purely in Flash, conducting public relations efforts without understanding digital media or search strategies, and talking metaphorically all the time can create the same kind of disconnect with your audience.

Here are some considerations that have a direct impact on findability for search marketers to use when working with other disciplines:

Don’t sell out your credibility for links or publicity. It can be easy to want to get aggressive with linking. Sure, you could tell the biggest lie in the world and get an incredible amount of links, but at some point you have to determine if that’s the kind of attention you want, because that is how your brand will be known in both search and social media.

Balance visual elements and rich apps with textual depth. Search and RIAs don’t have to mix like oil and water. The best answer for creative, development, and search teams involved in this process (or dilemma, if you prefer), is how to balance it all together, considering usability for direct site users, and those coming from search engines.

Don’t always trade off keyword popularity for opportunities to directly engage with your audience. I have discussions all the time about content strategy, and whether or not a highly searched keyword must always have to be in the title of the article or theme. No, it does not. Certainly it’s a good thing to include most of the time, but if you are producing a high volume of content on a regular basis, then it is OK to simply create an engaging headline. Engagement is the new SEO, and by staying in tune with your audience, the benefits of social signals on search relevancy and authority often follow.

Don’t come off as impersonal or spammy to humans, in order to appeal to robots. This may be the most common sin of SEO folk, who often go overboard in areas like linking, architecture, copywriting, social conversations and social network visibility, so it seems as if they’re only talking to search engines, not people. Again, engaging human beings with search signals can work – but turning those humans off with a pure SEO play can backfire in the long-term.

Respect “best practices” and common sense when engaging in social media. There is no question that social signals are playing a greater role in how content is crawled, indexed, and retrieved. I regularly engage in social media as a search tactic, but I do so with strategies of social engagement taking the lead, created and executed by the best social strategists I know. If you don’t address people in a sincere and meaningful way in social, then it does no good for a long-term sustainable strategy.

Here are some considerations for marketers on using search to get more from what you are already doing in public relations, Web development, creative, social media, and other areas.:

Don’t ignore your search consultants. A consultant with a balanced view of search can extend the opportunities for what you are currently doing in many other areas of digital marketing. In turn, what you are doing could help lift other efforts as well, including search.

Remember that engagement translates to findability at a very core level. In addition to engaging with your target audience at the content and conversation level, keep in mind that there is an opportunity to engage with your core target in areas other than where you keep your core assets. Searchers may be seeking the content you already have, but they can only find it if core search optimization principle are used.

In the long run, a careful balance wins the race.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/136676/in-the-long-run-balance-wins-the-race.html#ixzz1rgv6z2I4

Brands Defined By ‘What We Say About Ourselves’ and ‘What Others Say About Us’

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on March 2, 2011.

Back in late 2006 I wrote a column for Search Insider describing how the link graph is symbolic of both what we say about ourselves as companies, and also externally what others think about our companies. it doesn’t take too much of a leap to understand that the same is true in networks in terms of the conversations around a brand, and for the Web as a whole.

Now more than ever, the identity of a brand is largely reflected in these areas of both search and social media.

In search engine results pages, there is both a primary results set of earned assets (a brand’s web site for example), and there are the other “un-owned” assets that appear in that results set that also define the brand. Negative results, complaints, praise,charitable giving, etc. all define a brand in this area, whether they are good, bad, or indifferent. Again, the search results page is a shared space between what we say about ourselves, and what others say about you. The resulting sentiments can lift or destroy a brand.

In social, the same holds true. Brands can brag all day long about how great they are and what they stand for, but the second that this message is perceived to be incongruous in any way with audience perception, a conversational correction will be due. So again in this respect, the conversation and brand definition is largely a shared one, both in “earned” social spaces, and as well as un-owned social spaces.

The implications of this simple concept have far-reaching effects in digital publishing. Brands must be authentic and sincere, both in what they publish, and how they converse with those who publish about them. If there is a spirit about their brand, it must be maintained as a shared identity in search and social, keeping in mind that the spirited and authentic voices of a brand may be both inside and outside their company. These voices should be embraced.

If a company utilizes bad business practices, they will ultimately be defined in this way. The results and conversations will stick. Unfortunately though, sometimes good names get falsely smeared in search and social, but the good news is that the truth will rise through if others know it is not true. One of my best clients is thought of so highly by its customers, that they have no need for damage control or reputation management, because their customers set the record straight for them.

So again, just food for thought today: think hard about the messages you are putting out, and the messages that others are putting out about you. Ask yourself honestly if they are true or not. Think hard about whether your brand walks this walk, or is just all talk, because in search social the balance will be struck for the brand, regardless of what it says it is.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/145971/brands-defined-by-what-we-say-about-ourselves-a.html#ixzz1rlSF4MF6

Social Relevance: Google+’s Algorithmic Implications On Networks

This post first appeared on MediaPost Search Insider on August 17, 2011.

It has been over six weeks since the launch of Google+, and we are just now beginning to see the effects of what is to become Google’s own proprietary social network, competing with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google has also done something incredible here that may ultimately leave their other social competitors strategically in the dust, and that is to build an effective human social layer that complements the depth of their technical domination in search.

Those in the social networking area will be greatly challenged to compete in terms of providing a robust algorithmic layer, in terms of sheer power, scale and relevancy. And this isn’t just about search. This is about social relevancy, or in other words, using technology to improve one’s social networking experience in a highly meaningful way. Social relevance considers the context of a user’s authority and theme, as well as the network relationships around them, and also amplifies the data both objectively and subjectively. These are basic tenets that go back to the beginnings of Web search, and have yet to be fully developed in the network realm.

In this column, and in countless presentations I have given over the last few years, I have gone into great detail about the importance of marrying robust search technology with the human social network, often referring to it in the context of “social relevance.” I previously wrote that Google should buy Twitter in order to provide the cutting edge of recency to complement their Web crawling capabilities, and also about what an algorithmic view of a status-based network like Twitter might look like. Twitter and other status-based networks have historically shown that real-time-sharing brings more of an edge to information delivery, particularly in terms of what is happening “right now”. Both Google and Bing have since hitched onto Twitter’s open fire hydrant of data, and have used it to provide that human layer to the search experience.

Google has since pulled off something that many digital prognosticators – myself included – were not sure could be done. They finally created a network that was proprietarily “social” and has been embraced by a large number of people in a short period of time. So while Google may have temporarily switched off the Twitter fire hose, it is only a matter of time before the Google+ stream is added, thereby creating Google’s own real-time layer to its search results (though some elements of Google+ have already been added into the results at this time).

Sparks already shows assets that are ranked in Google+ by sharing popularity at the keyword level, similar in a way that we saw “Top Links” in real-time search, trending topics in Twitter, as well as top stories emailed in LinkedIn. So the basic implication for marketers is to get active and get sharing in Google+ in a meaningful and engaging way. As we saw in the development of real-time search, queries that showed velocity across networks required a QDF (“query deserves freshness”) adjustment in the primetime Web results. In layman’s terms, this means that the main Google Web results might be showing new real-time results without the searcher even being aware of it.

Applying social relevancy and robust algorithms to networks should be a wake-up call for Google’s network competitors.

Perhaps the biggest weakness exposed in the release of Google+ was how truly far behind both Twitter and Facebook are in terms of applying algorithmic relevancy to the social experience.

After five years, Twitter still greatly lags in terms of applying meaningful context and relevancy to its massive data stream, relying on its “reverse chronological order is best” philosophy, which still leaves much to be desired.

Facebook’s mission to turn the world into one big fishbowl is strategically void of any meaningful algorithms that might actually help the social experience in terms of privacy, sharing and personal segmentation of audiences. With the release of Google+, Facebook’s shine has worn off for many, and it seems that their greatest asset is not technology, but rather the fact that they currently have a massive user base. But history has proven time and time again that Internet users are fickle, and an exodus could occur when the next big thing comes along. Robust social relevancy is that next big thing.

Marketers will need to get active in Google+ in a meaningful way

Let’s leave aside the argument of Google+ vs. Facebook vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn for a moment, and consider the search implications of Google+. If you care about staying fresh and sending Google the social signals that will contribute to your bottom line search returns, then marketers must get active on Google+ (pending brand and business deployments in Google), whether its number of users is 2 million, 20 million or 2 billion. More than ever, search and social duties are tied directly together, and nothing is going to change with this relationship in the foreseeable future. It is simply going to be woven tighter together.

Though the story of Google+ and social relevance is still being written, I’ll leave you with a few considerations about Google+:

· Yes, brands should plan to become active in Google+.

· Google+ should be treated as a primary top-tier social network, in line with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

· Social presence and network signals in Google+ will have an impact on standard Google Web search.

· Social engagement and outreach programs will be critical to Google search.

· Content production and promotion will be critical to success in Google+ and Google Web search.

· Natural search tactics are critical to social for extending opportunities in networks.

· Search and social practitioners must become fully literate in both search and social to be successful.

· Google+ is about search and social, and this will be a core theme in marketing strategy for some time to come.

· Continue to watch the Google+ story develop — this is just the beginning, and it will continue to change.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/156079/social-relevance-googles-algorithmic-implicatio.html#ixzz1rlTbdfDb

Cover and Interview for Search Marketing Standard Spring 2012 Print and digital editions

I’m very pleased to have been interviewed and featured in the current issue of Search Marketing Standard print and digital editions. The issue is available to subscribers only, though you can pick up a print copy for free at major interactive media conferences over the next couple of months (SES NYC should have a few on hand). Thanks again to the entire staff at Search Marketing Standard.

Rob Garner Search Marketing Standard Spring 2012 - Search, Social, and Real-Time Marketing

My recent guest lecture at NYU

In late June I had the pleasure of presenting a guest lecture on current trends in search and social to a graduate marketing class at NYU.  A link to the full presentation is provided below via Slideshare.

http://www.slideshare.net/icrossing/marketing-in-the-moment-nyu-guest-lecture-with-rob-garner-icrossing