Human Powered Search Engines
Every now and then, the Internet makes a big turn, and changes everything. Just today Google announced the acquisition of Jaiku. Social media optimization (SMO) and search is one of those big turns. But, before I tell you how social media sites like YouTube, Digg, del.icio.us and SlideShare can boost your web presence (website, blog, URL, or content ranking), first let me explain how these social media tools and networks are leveraging Google's own platform and business model.
Why does my presence matter? As Seth Godin and perceptive online emarketers know all too well, if you're not showing up on the first page of a Google or Yahoo search - you're pretty much invisible. Hardly anyone goes beyond the first few links. Don't expect to see much traffic past link number 8. So, what about the other million search results? Sounds like an opportunity for some hot start-up. Furthermore, 70% of people skip online ads ( Small Is The New Big ). I guess people have an aversion to ads period.
Over the years, I have become proficient in HTML, web design, blogs, and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Moreover, at optimizing a website, blog, or digital content using things like keywords, meta tags, linking, and dozens of other SEO design elements. I was experimenting with Overture (part of Yahoo now) well before Google jumped into the game. It did not take me long to realize that my traffic ROI and conversion was much better as a native search engine result (1-8). I was lucky to understand the significance of search engines and user behavior early on. Anyone who is serious about creating an online presence as part of their overall emarketing strategy has to understand the various techniques search engines like Google use to rank the relevancy of a web page or digital content. Although some of these techniques are well established, most companies don't appreciate the significance of social media optimization. SearchEngineWatch.com has one of the early explanations of this new paradigm. A number of sources credit Rohit Bhargava for coining the term.
So how do you boost your presence? If you cannot get enough traffic and visibility to your website, product, blog, or other content, start participating in some of these social media and networks that have cut deals with the top three online ad entities - Google, Yahoo, and MSN. These sites are going to have a bigger impact in boosting your presence through popularity features like my favorites, most viewed, bookmarked, and tagging. Many of these media sites are social bookmarking websites. You might want to start with YouTube, Digg, del.icio.us, Technorati, SlideShare, and Squidoo. Joe Whyte has a comprehensive list of social media sites. Over this summer, I tested one of these social media sites called SlideShare. Originally, I was searching for a PowerPoint utility for converting my presentation into something suitable for HTML media. Instead of building a community around video as the primary media, SlideShare uses Microsoft PowerPoint. Once I uploaded and shared my slides, I quickly realized my topic - word of mouth marketing techniques - was a big hit with the community. Within days, I noticed a direct correlation between my most favorites count and search engine ranking. Somewhat analogous to cross-linking, community endorsement plays a big role in search engine algorithms.
Is this why the very same VCs who invested in Google are already exploring better solutions? You bet ! They call this social media discovery or searching. Think of it as human powered search engines. Piper Jaffary has some reports on where the search engine industry in headed. Even at $600 per share, Google's leaving a lot of money on the table. These social media outlets are keenly aware of these statistics. The next time you run a Google search, see how many of the first results are from these other media sites. You get the big picture. I hope I've give you enough insight into what's going on with some of these social networking and discovery media sites like Digg.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions, insight, and suggestions. If I missed any cool social media sites, add them to this post.