The Reasons Behind Social (and Google’s Path to Social Search)

For the last few years, we have heard from many sources around us that: social media is a feature; we want to provide the most enjoyable experience online; we want to make sharing experience easier and better…etc.

What actually is behind all that talk (or PR talk)? What’s the real agenda? It’s obviously all about knowing what we do/ like/want in order to target us and sell to us in more sophisticated way. It is all about money nothing else (I think this comes as a surprise to no one)

Since Facebook launch more and more people started browsing online while still logged into it. Facebook noticed that phenomenon straight away and introduced many different plugins for external sites and developers to positively influence that trend even more. Additionally, Facebook cleverly asked for people’s details, so at this stage they already knew everything about us; from our family connections, through friends, our interest, travel preference, what we eat/buy and even who we sleep with! Based on that Facebook is able to offer the most intelligent marketing tools to publishers that created the most sophisticated and tailored adverts ever available online.

That, in the same time, was Google’s biggest pain. Trying hard as they might, Google was not able to achieve anything like it! Google admitted in March 2010, that they were able to control (they actually said ‘personalize’) only 20% of searches (that included both people logged in and ‘cookie’ saved in the web browser), so at this stage Google was able to gather data of less than 20% of all people that actually spend time on their own site? That’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it?

That number was definitely not sufficient for Google, especially that just a month earlier, in February 2010, Nielsen’s survey revealed that in January, the amount of time an average person spent on Facebook jumped to more than seven hours a day. That’s 6 times more than on Google! What is more, for Google that number was going in completely the opposite direction!

To make it even more painful (for Google of course), in February 2011, Bing and Facebook merged their efforts by bringing in more data from Facebook to make its search results more social.

So what does Google do??

In May 2009, Google signs a lucrative contract with Twitter to get more real-life results to SERP, and just six months later, launches Wave- a part email, part Twitter and part instant messaging tool.

In October 2011, Schmidt admits that to really be social, search needs to be personalized to each individual’s own social stream he adds:

we are quite convinced that produces a better search result for people who choose to give us that information. We want people to be more logged into Google.

According to TechCruch,

he is also asked what can Google do if it does not have a direct relationship with all of the major social networks (meaning Facebook)? How then does it capture the social signals? Schmidt is careful not to answer that one too directly other than to say, “There are ways we can do that.

I think at that point, they already know none of the above actions will bring them the desired results, therefore, in August 2010 Google Wave is taken down and contract with Twitter is not renewed in June this year.

In the meantime, big changes happen at the top of Google’s managing board. In April this year, Larry Page replaces Eric Smidt as the CEO of the company, which is seen, by many, as a symbol of freshness, symbol of faster decisions.

A few months later Google introduces +1 button as a reply to Facebook’s “like” which sends first signals of Google’s plan to launch social platform (June 2011). Google cleverly finds a missing link- a lack of ability to merge one’s private and business connections without exposing oneself too much to any of those groups. That is achieved by introducing ‘Circles’.

It’s the end of August 2011 now. Google+ is the fastest growing social network in terms of user signups, reaching an impressive 25 million users in less than 1 month after its launch and the number is still growing. Google already started merging “Plusers” activities with SEPR.

Will it become as big as Facebook and be able to achieve similar results? Let’s see in a few months. I am sure however that it is just the beginning of Google’s Social competition. Here is one of the first Google+ infographics based on its users’ demographic.

Google statistics demographics

Mags Sikora

I'm Mags, an SEO Consultant, London

  • http://namcopools.us/ Namco Pools

    I like Google +, but it has not been fully finalized, but the numbers of users is already very impressive

  • PCI Compliant Reseller Hosting

    Well, I believe that it was the hype created by us ( I mean SEO’s) which give Google+ a big start. It will take time for the Google+ to catch the Facebook.

  • http://www.anasshad.hubpages.com Irfanali

    Google has tried really hard with Google +1 but +1 can never compete with Twitter and Facebook.

  • Marvin

    Oh, that’s the reason behind the Google + invention. I thought they just want to compete with the social networking site, at least they got amazing number after a week after they released it.

  • Blogit3d

    thanks for the info i didnt know about that google twitter deal