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Search is Dead, Long live Search

John Battelle has some interesting thoughts on search. Google’s 2004 message to investors was:

Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating.

Google has abandoned that commitment. Just look at the screen real estate on Google that now is committed to paid content – AdWords now accounts for one-third of the space on your screen.

And now Google is including social results with the putatively objective results it used to provide. So if your potential clients are searching the web while logged into a Google account, their first-page results will include items endorsed by people in their Google circles.

And whether you get it or don’t, or like it or don’t, a lot of content is being created on Twitter and Facebook that isn’t systematically reflected in Google Search results, either because Google doesn’t prioritize it or because Google doesn’t have the rights to crawl it.

For me, as a Raleigh criminal lawyer, figuring out how to make my presence more social is difficult. Even if people get good results with me, they tend not to want to praise me, unless pseudo-anonymously. They may quietly confide in friends who ask that I’m a good lawyer.

But they’re unlikely to announce on Facebook or on their Google Plus pages that I got them a “not guilty” on their DWI.

I haven’t figured out how to solve that problem.

But as realtors (and mortgage brokers, etc.) you ignore the social aspect of search at your peril. If you’re banging away trying to raise your Google PageRank, then welcome to 2005. And you’re working your way to dominate your search results for your locality, then welcome to 2007.

You may be missing what your competitors have realized: being endorsed by past clients, friends, etc. can push your placement above competitors, and those endorsements may in fact be the added juice that gets someone to choose one service over another.

Does this mean search is dead? Not by a long shot.

Many people have joined Google Plus, but Google’s latest investor phone call reveals that fewer people are engaged in building out their Google Plus pages.

That also means that the true impact of Google Plus has yet to be felt.

Related posts:
  • Sweetest Way to Search Amazon
  • The Case For Twitter, Really Fast
  • So you thought your listing Search Function sucked yesterday?

  • 5 comments

    5 Comments so far

    1. Jim Kimmons January 22nd, 2012 7:42 pm

      Many people want to give more power to Google’s recent changes than deserved. First, you have a small globe icon on the right to remove all personal results. Second, you can go into search settings and have personal results removed by default. Only those who want them will get them, and that means they must value them in some way.

    2. Mike Woods January 22nd, 2012 9:20 pm

      I’ve noticed the change in my Google search results. Unfortunately, the default results are social. I’m constantly changing to the globe so that I can see pure web results. Even those are being affected by the cookies that Google is placing on our computers. I notice that if I delete my cookies and search again for the same topic, the results change.

    3. Joe January 24th, 2012 9:15 pm

      Yup, we dominate Google organic and paid search and are now adopting Google+ in our strategy. Nice post Damon.

    4. Jonathan Karlen January 26th, 2012 1:27 pm

      In the end, Google is wanting to make money. Like you’ve said, about 1/3 of the screen is allocated to ads now. And while social media is becoming more important from a Search results perspective, its a slippery slope for Google. Social Media (Likes, +1s, etc) are fairly easy to artificially generate, and if it becomes a dominant force you can bet that there will be companies that will “like” or “+1″ you as a service, which completely negates the value of the social media being included in the results in the first place.

    5. Henry Fite January 28th, 2012 1:14 am

      Well, we cannot really blame Google for doing this. It is still a business and they want to fully maximize the monetization opportunity they can get from their search results. And oh, if search results are becoming more social now, I think it would be best for real estate marketers to include google+1 in their strategies. Great post!