Google has to get past one main sticking point if they hope to stop sucking at social media. They need to think about user experience before trying to figure out how social signals can best improve search.
If the main motivation for creating a social platform is to improve organic ranking algorithms through social signals, it’s destined to fail.
It’s as if Google is so desperate to get into the social media game that they’re choking from performance anxiety.
From one failure to another, they just can’t seem to get it right: Google Wave, Google Answers, Orkut, Knol, Google Buzz, Dodgeball, and many of their other platforms have failed to make the grade.
Google’s latest foray into the social milieu is Google +1. It’s similar to Facebook’s ‘Like’, and votes for websites are intended to improve the quality of Google’s search results. Social votes are popular, but who wants to share a search result before they ever click on the link to begin with?
After striking out in so many areas—including search—Google should be concentrating on giving their users a great social experience. They need this now more than ever.
If Google could develop just one social media platform that pleases its users first, with less focus on retrieving user data, raking in more Adwords revenue, or search integration, they’d be halfway there.
With all the money Google has poured into dead-end social strategies and misguided acquisitions, you’d think they could afford a loss-leader.
I’ve been using Quora on an almost daily basis for the last couple of months and I love it. The culture is great; it reminds me a bit of the freenode IRC network (minus the real-time factor). People have hung out in the same IRC channels on the same networks for years, and think the same will be true for Quora. It’s a real niche environment.
How Quora sets itself apart from the crowd of similar communities is best described by them:
Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.
I don’t think that the spammier folks will ruin it either, simply because of a lower tolerance in this type of community for garbage. Useless posts will just be voted down and/or idiotic members banned.
How does Quora compare with X?
With the aim of becoming a collection of answers produced in a wiki fashion, Quora sets itself apart from question and answers sites such as Yahoo! Answers, which is primarily centered around, well, the answering of questions. Quora is focused more on what’s being discussed right now and on becoming a longterm, quality resource.
Those that have compared Quora with Twitter have obviously not looked that deeply under the hood. Aside from the not so immediately obvious differences, there are some glaring ones:
- There can be only so much depth to engaging within 140 characters or less.
- Quora allows for much easier segmentation of contacts and topics.
- The number of people involved in a single discussion isn’t dependent on who’s following you.
Quora is very similar to stackoverflow, a question and answer site for programmers, and the latter still is probably the best option if you’re looking for that type of hacker knowledge base.
I haven’t quite made my mind up about the ‘follow’ feature yet. I’m hoping Quora will add some functionality that compliments it such as feed filtering.
Where is Quora going?
As long as Quora maintains its relatively high standards of discourse, I believe it will continue to gain popularity as the go-to place for what’s being talked about in now, and on a slightly more elevated intellectual plain than many other popular discussion platforms.
If the typical internet users that sometimes lack good sense or netiquette start invading Quora on a mass scale—similar to the Eternal September of 1993, when an influx of new Usenet users appeared thanks to free accounts supplied by AOL— hopefully the downvoting system will help retain the site’s value.
Whatever your interests are, if you want to engage with like-minded individuals to learn, teach, or grow, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Quora. If you’re looking for another place to pitch your self-serving, veiled promotional message, you’ll probably find yourself doing more harm than good.
As I expressed recently in an answer on quora:
The main attraction of knowledge sharing, or Knowledge Networking is the knowledge. If you’re primarily seeking “followers” in social spaces, you’ll mostly be ignored. On the surface, this might seem ironic, but it makes complete sense: you don’t find happiness by looking for it directly, you chance upon it as a result of doing something else.
Connect with me on Quora.
I’m very happy to see a new social SEM/SEO news site pop up, and with with some familiar and friendly faces behind it to boot. Hi, SERPD, the pleasure is all mine!
Since Sphinn did away with their voting system at the beginning of the month in favor of editorially chosen featured articles, a lot of criticism has been aired for and against their decision and motivations.
Admittedly, I did enjoy the voting system of Sphinn while it was still feasible for staff to maintain. Discussion, feedback, and votes stemming from the widest selection possible of community members certainly has a different flavor from an editor selected voting system.
That being said, I think it’s great to have one type of voting system each, across two social news sites.
The way I see it, this isn’t a which is better debate; two perspectives often add more value that one. I know I’ll continue to check out what’s hot and submit to Sphinn as I have in the past as I will with SERPD—and I’m sure I’ll appreciate both flavors for different reasons. In fact, I know I will.
I’m really hoping SERPD and Sphinn community members take the high road and not start choosing sides. This thing of ours (the search professional community, not the other thing) has had enough of that already. *cough* SEOMoz *cough* SEOBook.
In order to continue to earn mainstream respect, let’s demonstrate the independent thinking and maturity we’re obviously capable of.
Many SEOs have coding (opposed to marketing) backgrounds, and enjoy hours on end of alone-time in front of the computer. The stereotypical B movie computer nerd, glued to the monitor in mom’s basement and surrounded by Coke cans isn’t typically known for his social skills.
Not that B movie stereotypes dominate our industry, but I think you see what I’m getting at.
The ass-kissing, social climbing, or mutual m*sturbating nature of “link building” can be a real turn off to someone attracted to the more technical aspects of search. But the harsh reality is that building an online business is in many ways similar to running a brick and mortar operation; you need to develop professional relationships beyond your clientele if you want to succeed with your online ventures.
With some social skills (or at least interaction), your chances of discovering mutually beneficial opportunities and partnerships increase exponentially.
I’ll admit that I’d like to see Google put less value on incoming links. If unethical schemes for exaggerating a site’s worth were reserved to on-site tactics, some of us wouldn’t feel so bitter about the indexing advantages acquired by those willing to chance paying for links.
With all cards closer to – if not on – the table, quality content and site architecture would take on even greater importance in establishing a visible web presence.
But I digress.
For the time being, the right types of links matter – a lot. So let’s accept it. For now.
Visualize your Web site as a shop that you opened on the edge of town. If enough reliable tenants were to vouch for you, the landlord would probably trust you enough to rent you a choice spot, closer to the center of town.
With some connections and networking, chances are you’ll find a more visible section of online real estate from which to run your business; especially if you continue to nourish your inner geek’s appetite for the more technical SEO skillsets.
Technorati Claim ID: 33T642PQRMHS
If there’s any question in your mind whether social media is merely a passing trend or a major consideration in any internet marketing campaign, wonder no longer.
Last month, more than 200 major advertising and market research executive representatives attended the sold out Industry Leader Forum – “Transforming Research. Are You Listening” – held by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). The ARF, a leading Research Transformation initiative, will
enable members to stay ahead of the curve in a fast-changing, consumer-driven world.
The event, which took place in New York on Oct 29, focused primarily on methods of tracking the ubiquitous online discussions of brands, companies, products and services that numerous social media web sites and platforms host. Bob Barocci, President and CEO of The ARF, shed some light on several of the newer terms being used by advertising researchers, such as ‘listening pipes’, ‘storytelling’, ‘inspiration’, ‘content masters’ (referring to millennials), ‘consumer backyard’ and ‘brand backyard’.
Case histories of “listening” in action were presented by General Mills, MTV, Sony Electronics, and Unilever. Obama pollster Joel Benenson, revealed how public perceptions were gathered in the president-elect’s leading-edge electoral campaign.
The Arf’s Research Transformation Council are:
- Joel Benenson – Founding Partner & President, Benenson Strategy Group – Co-Founder, iModerate, & pollster for Barack Obama
- Jonathan Carson – President, International, Nielsen Online
- Kim Dedeker – VP, External Capability Leadership-Global Consumer & Market Knowledge, Procter & Gamble
- Jeff Flemings – SVP, Renaissance Planning, VivaKi
- Gayle Fuguitt – VP, Consumer Insights, General Mills
- Stephen Kim – Senior Director, Microsoft Branded Experiences and Entertainment, Microsoft Advertising
- Michael Perman – Senior Director, Levi Strauss
- Eric Salama – Chairman and CEO, Kantar
- Patti Wakeling – Senior Manager, Media Insights, Unilever
Pete Blackshaw, the Executive Vice President of the Digital Strategic Services group at Nielsen Online gave a presentation on the “Six Signals of Listening to the Unprompted Voice of the Consumer.“. Pete is a recognized expert in interactive marketing, word of mouth, and consumer understanding, and originally coined the term consumer-generated media (CGM). See Pete’s summary of the highlights from October’s event in his video below.
The ARF’s next Forum will be a one day workshop from 8:00AM to 6:00PM on January 27, 2009 at Bently Reserve, San Francisco. Confirmed speakers include:
- Kim Dedeker (Proctor & Gamble)
- Joel Benenson (Benenson Strategy Group)
- Michael Perman (Levi Strauss)
- Pete Blackshaw (Nielsen Online)
Very exciting stuff!
I just discovered The Poetic Prophet (AKA The SEO Rapper). Here he is rapping about how web standards and proper design can affect the ranking and conversion of pages on your site. Visit the Poetic Prophet’s YouTube page. You know you want to.
Yesterday, Google launched SearchWiki, the biggest news in Web 2.0 since sliced Wikipedia. Once logged into your google account, SearchWiki allows you move search results up or out of Google’s index, for your own personalized results on return visits to the Goog. As well as allowing users to edit, reorder, and remove search results to their liking, SearchWiki allows public commenting on search results, letting others know their opinions on individual web sites [Insert scary music here]. Google’s reasoning here is to make it easier for you to find the results that best suit our needs, with these custom indexed results stored in your Google Account.
Well, for those of us with hearts already 100% dedicated to Google, we’ll now have to find other parts of ourselves to dedicate to our beloved search behemoth.
Of course, these pseudo-bookmarked, tailored search results fit nicely into our relatively recent, present day social-media-heavy virtual existence. In the same vein as Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Digg, Sphinn, Reddit, Technorati, and countless others, Google now allows us to share our thoughts amongst each other – on the good, bad, and the ugly of all the sites in the Interverse. But wait. Google tells us that
The changes you make only affect your own searches. Well, we’ll see how long until Google revises that statement, because
once if those changes did affect public indexing, we might never have to leave Google for online bookmarking or social-networking communities at all. The comments you leave however, will be public.
I don’t know how I’d feel if Google did incorporate the voting system into their results. Actually, I think I do. Personally, I prefer to surf recommendation engines such as StumbleUpon, or other social networking sites such as Digg when I feel like browsing social media. The way I see it, the thing that sets the internet apart from all other forms of media is that the “hits” don’t necessarily prevail in search engines; instead, the Long Tail of media, including the “misses”, have as much of a chance of producing results in the SERPs – as long as the results are relevant. Granted, “relevant” results – while being based on indexing algorithms – do rely on some forms of indirect user input. One site linking to another, for example, counts as a vote in the eyes of Google’s Pagerank algorithm. I just don’t know if I’m ready to welcome the fact wholeheartedly that ‘what mainstream internet deems to be the best results’ could affect my Google experience in such a direct way. In any case, for now at least, the changes we make only affect our own searches.
So Google, you still do it for me, but…
As Googey-baby states:
SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the ‘See all notes for this SearchWiki’ link.
I don’t remember ever seeing an online
grafitti feedback system that wasn’t chalk full of gorilla marketing. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Microsoft Research has released a new social search engine prototype called “uRank”. Social search engines boast personalization features such as allowing users to move search results around to better suit their tastes, and share information with others.
“…allows people to organize, edit and annotate search results…to better support people as they are exploring a topic, comparing information, keeping track of what they’re learning, and collaborating with others…”. Microsoft Research proposes to use these interactions to contribute to the perceived relevance of search results opposed to traditional algorithmic methods of search engine results indexing. uRank is currently accessible to US users only. Apparently they’re ‘working on that’.
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