Jeb Molony

     In an earlier post called Search Engine Optimization I referred briefly to the importance of social media hyperlinks in achieving a higher search engine ranking result. (For search engine optimization basics please see the previous article Search Engine Optimization). This post will discuss the changing algorithm and future of search engine optimization so business owners can begin to understand where we are going and what they can do to prepare for the future.

     In order to understand where we are going you must understand where we have been. Currently Google uses bots to crawl the internet and catalog site content. What this means in English is Google takes a picture of your site’s content and compares it to your previous content to determine whether or not you have updated your content or remained static. Why is this important?  Imagine for a moment you are building a search engine. Your single goal is to get people to use the search engine. The only way people will use your search engine is if it returns logical, relevant, and organized results for the search you enter. If the search engine does not return such results people are not likely to use it, and you have failed to achieve your goal. Google controls the largest percentage of the search engine market because it returns relevant results for searches in a manner users can understand and navigate. So how does Google know what site is relevant to your search?

     As discussed in the previous article Google uses links from other sources to your site to rank your site’s authority while the relevance of your site is based upon the meta tags and the site’s content. If we want the search engine we are building to return the best results to a user we need it to deliver the most up to the minute relevant results. For example if a famous celebrity is involved in a scandal in Hollywood a user searching that celebrities name is most likely looking for search results pertaining to the most recent scandal, and not results that were relevant six weeks ago. Therefore, the most effective search engine would be one that returned realt time results, but how could we build a search engine that changes quickly enough to deliver real time results?

     Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus contain hyperlinks to stories, articles, and sites that people find relevant all the time. Tweets are often times nothing more than a hyperlink to a site or article a person finds relevant at that particular moment. If the social media contains links to relevant sites then a search engine which uses social media hyperlinks to rank relevance could return real time results for sites relevant to a search. The hyperlinks could be ranked similarly to the current formula for ranking incoming links by which the party who links to the site’s authority is considered based upon the number of followers or friends they have. The question is whether this ranking system is possible?

     Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have all taken steps to begin building the next generation search engine based upon this hypothetical ranking system. Microsoft’s Bing has contracts with Twitter and Facebook to mine their data for hyperlinks to effect search results while Google recently launched Google Plus in order to develop a social application which could be used to mine for hyperlinks. Facebook has also taken steps toward making data public in order to mine it for hyperlinks in the future. Whether such a social search engine will ever be effective remains to be seen, but we will definitely see site ranking algorithms give greater weight to social media to rank relevance.

     A small business seeking to reach the top of search engine results in the future should plan a search engine optimization campaign which works for today’s ranking formula and prepares for the social element of the future formulas. If social media hyperlinks are going to be increasingly important to search engine optimization then a business owner needs to develop an effective social media presence across multiple social applications and networks. Future articles will discuss developing an online social media presence to improve your site’s search engine results. Further the business owner’s website must be built to easily integrate with all the major forms of social media.

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