Social search or a social search engine is a type of web search that takes into account the Social Graph of the person initiating the Search Query. When applied to web search thisSocial Graph approach to relevance is in contrast to established algorithmic or machine-based approaches where relevance is determined by analyzing the text of each document or the link structure of the documents. Search results produced by social search engine give more visibility to content created or touched by users in the Social Graph.
Social search takes many forms, ranging from simple shared bookmarks or tagging of content with descriptive labels to more sophisticated approaches that combine human intelligence with computer algorithms.
The search experience takes into account varying sources of metadata, such as collaborative discovery of web pages, tags, social ranking, commenting on bookmarks, news, images, videos, knowledge sharing, podcasts and other web pages. Example forms of user input include social bookmarking or direct interaction with the search results such as promoting or demoting results the user feels are more or less relevant to their query.
Everyone has been thinking about the concept of social search for quite some time. But no one has really done it yet, unless you call Tweeting out questions to your followers “social search”. To be fair, I guess that is social search — but no one has done it in an automated way that revolutionizes the search game the same way Google’s Page Rank revolutionized search a decade ago. I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see it in action on a massive scale. Facebook is working on a Q&A product, Google already tipped their hand in a huge way with the purchase of Aardvark for $50 million. The two most dominant tech companies on the web are working on it (and I bet Twitter is too), so it’s clear social search is coming in a big big way. And that means someone is going to finally nail it. My bet is Facebook because of the social graph they have built up.
Social search has serious SEO implications, because, as I mentioned in my post on YouReach Media, “‘Likes’ and retweets are rapidly becoming the new “links” (votes) of the web”. That’s a scary thing for someone who has no concept of what those retweets and “likes” are, and how other social sites may possibly factor into whatever social search ends up emerging. It’s scary for a person who has focused strictly on SEO the old fashioned way (by paying for links) and spent zero time on their social media strategy. It’s scary for someone with no social media strategy whatsoever. If and when social search goes mainstream, it’s clear professionals with a comprehensive social media strategy and understanding about how to attract “votes” on the web in a variety of fashions will have the leg up on someone with a website from 2000 and organic ranking only due to paid SEO.
What do you think — is social search going to change the way real estate professionals focus their time online? Or the extreme case scenario (which I don’t believe) — are websites going to become obsolete in favor or Facebook pages or some other more social destination?