This week, online conversations in the internet marketing community were dominated by news of Google's new social search recommendation feature, +1. The search giant announced the service on Wednesday, and it's been at the forefront of search marketing conversations ever since.
As Brafton reported, the service lets Google account users recommend search results by clicking a +1 button that appears on SERPs. The SEO implications of the feature have been a hot topic of discussion. While +1s won't impact rankings, per se, they might influence clicks.
News of Google's latest foray into the social search realm are accompanied by this week's report indicating that small business marketers plan to increase their investments in SEO and social media marketing. Nearly three-quarters of SMBs will have social media marketing plans in place this year.
As investment in social marketing rises, so too must investment in social media monitoring. Brafton has reported that tracking social mentions is poised to be a top priority for social marketers, and Salesforce.com seems to be adopting a similar strategy. The company announced this week that it is acquiring Radian6 – a respected social media monitoring platform. The company wants to use Radian6 data to enhance the relevancy of conversations on its social site, Chatter.
Brands might want to monitor social media conversations not only to keep up with social trends, but also to track brand mentions. As Brafton reported, recently released data reveals that young consumers are likely to talk about products and services via social sites.
In other social media marketing news, headlines this week suggest Twitter is testing geotargeted Tweets. This should help marketers reach local audiences, and it also points to the increasing importance of using Twitter to enhance SEO efforts and reach relevant audiences (for more, see Brafton's latest blog).
Another social site that made the news this week is LinkedIn. While the company has been generating significant interest among B2B and content marketers for LinkedIn Today and its growing user base, this week's news indicates that the site still has ground to cover if it wants to catch up with the big social players. As Brafton reported, LinkedIn sees significantly less frequent visits than Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook, the social giant released an updated mobile website this week. The company says it wants to improve the on-the-go Facebook experience for mobile users, whether they have sophisticated phones or simpler feature phones. Internet marketers might consider if and how this will help them reach a broader social mobile audience.
Mobile internet audiences may grow overall in 2011. As Brafton reported, the smartphone market is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent this year, giving more consumers access to the mobile web. Simultaneously, Brafton has reported that mobile CTRs are on the rise, so mobile content marketing is a must.
It seems Google is getting ready for the mobile internet revolution. The company is testing new mobile payment systems. These developments may ultimately help advance m-commerce overall.
In other Google news, the company updated its similar image search features this week, necessitating SEO-friendly, visual content. It also released Instant search for Google Places, hoping to give consumers access to nearby, relevant results at faster speeds.
The company had another speed-related update this week: It unveiled Page Speed Online, a web-based tool to help marketers improve their site speeds. This might have a positive impact on SEO efforts, as Matt Cutts has said that site speed should be an SEO priority this year.
Google also released some tools to boost ad partners' ad relevancy this week. It announced a priority inbox for email ads to help boost the relevancy of partners' ads. It also has a feature for Google Buzz that lets its social users decide which ads are the most relevant to them. The company reached a settlement with the FTC over privacy issues, and the Ads Preference Manager is part of its effort to ensure consumers are comfortable with the service's tracking. (It might also help ad partners reach willing and relevant audiences.)
Not all news was good news for Google this week. In the EU, Microsoft is taking the company to court over search competition laws which it feels Google has violated, thereby limiting Bing's potential in these markets.
No matter which search portal marketers optimize their sites for, brands must invest more heavily in internet marketing if they want to keep up with content consumption habits. As Brafton reported, statistics show that internet ad spend lags far behind audience potential. Investing in content can pay off – just this week, Brafton reported that one company saw traffic lifts from its blog efforts.
Next week, we might expect there to be more news about Google +1's impact on search as the feature is rolled out. Internet marketers, stay tuned.