Is Social Media Killing Search and SEO?

As someone who works in social media day in and day out, it tends to be all I think about.  So, a distraction in SEO this week in my Internet and Interactive Marketing course at DePaul has been interesting and got me thinking. . . is social killing search and SEO?

We all know that video killed the radio star.

Here are three common scenarios for finding something great on the Internet. How does user-generated social content stack up to search engine results?

 

The case of the SUV, car seat and really tall husband.

Social media allows you to receive personalized search results from people who actually know you, your preferences and specific taste. When researching a car, you know you can find specs online about the make and model, but what about a specific question like, “hey, who has a Traverse? Will my rear facing Britax carseat fit behind the driver’s seat?  I need to know if my 6’1” husband will have any leg room left after the seat is installed!”

The question is specific, combines two brands, and the personal characteristics of the buyer. Your social network might know that you have a really picky husband who just won’t be happy with the remaining legroom. They might also know that they shouldn’t suggest you get a minivan instead (remember what happened last time some suggested it?!). Google doesn’t know that.

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[Image: weknowmemes.com]

Point? Social media.

 

Best Greek restaurant in Chicago?

Throwing this search term into a Google search yields a lot of results. Most of them link to sites like Yelp or Urbanspoon, sites that rely on user-generated content to populate the site. These sites offer the good (“Saganaki? The best!”), the bad (“Bathrooms were the worst I’ve seen.”), and the ugly (“The waiter didn’t wash his hands before he left the bathroom.”).

All powered by social media. But assembled by search.

Point? I’ll call it a draw.

 

Back to basics.

Need a phone number? Or perhaps the address of the drycleaner? In most situations, a quick Google search beats asking your Twitter network that is likely strewn across the globe.

Point: Search

 

More to the story?

But, I think there is a lot of grey area, as well. Think about the popular site, Pinterest. It is a collection of images assembled by users. But, there is very little social interaction (other than the simple act of following those who you know), but the social media platform has just about perfected the visual search world.

Consumers are increasingly looking for authentic results- real reviews from friends, expert third party reviews of vehicles, and the review section of Amazon. A Forrester Research study found just that. Real content and real reviews rank highest.

 

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[CHART: Marketingcharts.com]

 

So, it begs the question, should we just be putting more resources towards networking with our influencers? More partnerships with mommy bloggers who will sing the praises of our products?

I’d say the jury is still out, but the world of search looks very different with the advent of user-generated content on Facebook, Yelp and countless other social media platforms.

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