This week, the internet marketing community saw a lot of buzz about new Google search (and social search) developments, as well as news about the value of social media marketing.
The week started on a strong note, with Google’s Inside Search event. Google announced a number of new developments that may impact the way consumers search on Google. As Brafton reported, Google is now offering Instant Pages, which download pages before users click to offer instant access to information. This feature rewards marketers for top SEO rankings, as it only pre-loads the top result.
The company also announced Voice Search and Search by Image for desktop users. Marketers might want to consider how these new features may change the way consumers search the web and plan SEO accordingly. They make it easier for consumers to enter longtail or complicated queries.
Another feature launched at the event that will make it easier to search for complex phrases is Google’s build-a-query tool for Android and iPhone users. In fact, the company unveiled a number of mobile search tools, catering to the idea that mobile search never stops because people can always easily access their devices.
Google wasn’t the only search engine getting in the mobile game this week. Yahoo unveiled a new App Search feature to help users find the apps that will be most relevant to them. Mobile marketers with branded apps may like this development, and all mobile marketers should take it as a sign of the growth of mobile internet access.
According to comScore, mobile search and social activity demonstrates significant year-over-year growth. The study reveals that mobile search (led by Google) has risen 32.1 percent, mobile social networking has grown a whopping 45.7 percent in the past year.
Growth of mobile social use mirrors growth of overall social networking. As Brafton reported, a Pew study indicates that 80 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 use social media. Additionally, nearly half of Americans over the age of 35 are accessible via social sites.
Not only are more consumers accessible via social sites, but they use social media more frequently. ComScore’s study, the Network Effect, indicates that social media now accounts for one in six online minutes.
As consumers are spending more time on social sites, they are increasingly looking up information on brands that impact purchase decisions. As Brafton reported, the 2011 Social Shopping Study reveals that one-third of consumers conduct shopping searches on social networks.
The role of Facebook in online shopping is strong, but analysts seem to have mixed reports this week on whether Facebook traffic is up or down. While comScore’s Network Effect suggests traffic is up, Inside Facebook says the site’s U.S. traffic decreased last month. Regardless, it wields real marketing power, and the industry was buzzing about prospective updates to Facebook Places. The updates would help marketers gain advocates by allowing users to write short recommendations on Place sidebars of local business Pages.
While Places developments could help brands find loyal fans, it seems Twitter followers are bigger brand loyalists. Brafton reported that social fans and followers are increasingly enthusiastic about brands they engage on social sites, and nearly half (46 percent) of Twitter users are loyal to brands they follow.
Still, marketer might want to keep their eye on LinkedIn. One social expert claims that the professional social site offers access to a highly convertible pool of users. Lewis Howes, author of Linked Working, says 45 percent of LinkedIn users are qualified, business decision makers. On Facebook, he says, just one-quarter of users can make B2B purchase decisions.
Facebook might have bigger competition on the horizon than LinkedIn, though, when it comes to marketing reach. Google made some aggressive moves on the social front this week. First, the company announced a “Me on the Web” feature that lets users manage what comes up about them in search results. The service requires them to create Google profiles, which means they would be able to +1 content. Should more people create Google profiles and start using the +1 button, the company might see widespread adoption of its social plugin – and marketers might see more social SERPs.
To help businesses integrate the social plugin on their sites, Google will be hosting a +1 implementation webinar next week, offering technical guidance and tips for best practices.
Marketers will want to monitor this social search development, as it might make social advocacy key to Google SEO. (And Brafton reported this week that research from the Local Search Association says people turn to search engines more than traditional social networks when conducting business research.)
Of course, getting content “+1’ed” means marketers must invest in high-quality copy and articles. Content marketing was a key part of the conversation at the recent Business Marketing Association conference. Short-form articles were cited as an especially useful means of engaging audiences and attracting repeat visitors.
Marketers looking for tips on content marketing and SEO in the post-Panda (and increasingly social) search landscape should check out Brafton’s blog about SEO tips from SMX Advanced expert attendees.
Next week, marketers will want to stay tuned to see how marketers receive Google’s push for +1. Stay tuned!