At this week's SES NY conference, the topic on most marketers' minds seems to be location, location, location. At the “Search: Where to Next?” panel discussion, multiple reports indicate that experts agree that social search signals will become increasingly important, and local search is already influencing the way consumers look for info on the web.

Experts, including representatives from Vizion Interactive, comScore and Bing, say that social data can impact which results searchers click. (And Google's Matt Cutts recently indicated that social media marketing should be an SEO priority.)

But while all agree social recommendations are important, they also point to the limitations of social search signals. Duane Forrester, senior program manager at Bing, says social data is likely to “influence” searchers. But he acknowledges that in order for social search to really have an impact, consumers (and search engines) would need to discern whether a social user is a reliable authority on a query-related subject.

The experts also point out that Google received 10 billion searches last month, while Facebook fielded about 6 million queries. Although many speculate that the social site will try to move further into the search market (particularly after its social search patent surfaced earlier this month), the SES panelists don't think Likes will replace links or that social media sites will replace search engines any time soon.

A trend that they seem to think will have a more immediate impact on the search market is the movement toward local search. Eli Goodman, search evangelist for comScore, says “it's all about local.” He later says that local search is maturing much faster than social search.

Still, the experts are hesitant to say local is more important than social, giving a lot of “both” and “it depends” remarks regarding which approach brands should focus on. Josh McCoy, lead strategist for Vizion Interactive, advises marketers, “you can go local-social.” He encourages brands to integrate social data into local SEO campaigns.

In the end, the experts agree that whether brands are optimizing for social users, local searchers or both, good content is key. Bing's Duane Forrester says that, quite simply, “it's always about quality content.”