Why You Should Spend More Time Thinking About bing

Google is constantly changing the way it indexes and sorts websites; what it thinks you want and what you don't. On May 19th, Google released Social Search but what is it, how does it work and will it really affect websites and their positions in Google?

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Ensuring a website stays on Page 1 of Google is a constant battle. Competition for the top spot is often fraught and difficult to maintain even with a skilled SEO specialist on your side.

Unknown to the majority of Google users, Social Search has been around since October 2009 and has allowed information to links and search results to be pulled from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

In Google's words, it was supposed to be "an experimental feature designed to help you find more relevant information from your friends and the people you care about." So why is everyone talking about a Google feature which has been around for 2 years? Well on May 19th, Google released an updated version of Social Search.

How Does it Work?

Much like Google Instant (originally), users must be logged into their Google Account to use Social Search. Once logged in, Google combines its own search results with those from social networks. What this means is that when you're searching for 'stuff', the results will show any mentions, tweets, blog posts and pictures from your friends using social networks including Twitter and Flickr.

Why Now?

I am sure Google is sticking to a scheduled release date although, the update does come right on the heels of the Facebook vs Google debacle. Facebook admitted to hiring a PR company to run a smear campaign on Google's use of people's private information. This all escalated from Facebook being unhappy about Google using Facebook's social data without Facebook's permission. As a result, Facebook and Google are now fighting a dirty, underhand war, with the current result being Google excluding all Facebook data from Google Social Search.

What Does it Mean?

In terms of online marketing, it is yet another reason to ensure that your brand or company is covering all aspects of online marketing including blogs and social networking sites, such as Twitter. This will ultimately mean that social content can appear next to or in, Google search results. It will be interesting to see what this apparent division of social media platforms does and whether or not it will affect in anyway the usage entreprise of Bing and Google.

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With Google utilising most of the major social networks (except Facebook) and Bing being so heavily integrated into Facebook, is this the beginning of a slow divide? In terms of Search Engine Optimisation, page listings will not change directly as Social Search results will be placed toward the bottom of Page 1, or in the form of a single line under a result. However, as Google Social Search develops and forms a more significant aspect of a Google search, this might change.

Reaching the top of Google (and staying there) is akin to playing a game with ever changing goal posts. There are so many elements that contribute to where your website is placed and for how long.

And while it's granted that Google moves in mysterious ways, and you will never be able to control every single variable, there are a whole range of techniques you can use to keep kicking goals when the Googlers make it tricky for you.

One simple and effective way is to make sure what actually comes up in the Google listing is fully optimised, makes sense, and tells the viewer "this is what you are looking for" - by addressing exactly what it is that your website delivers.

Your Google heading can be up to around 66 characters & that includes spaces, so you don't have long to grab the viewer. With that in mind, it's important to remember the following:

The viewer is looking for something.

Does your headline assure them that you have what they need?

If you do in fact offer what they want, is it simple for them to attain it?

What means have you offered them to make life easier?

Is there anything new, interesting or out of the ordinary?

Can you manage to stand out from the crowd?

Have you included your company name & made sure that you have a different heading for every single page on your site?

So: can you manage that in 66 characters? With clever copy, the answer should be 'yes'.

Now that we have a succinct and attractive headline, we need to ensure the description is up to scratch. Think of the description like the copy of an advertisement. You have roughly 155 characters including spaces to offer a compelling glimpse into what lies beneath the click of the mouse. Think of the description like a taste test. And make absolutely sure that you use your keyword/s at least once toward the beginning.

That said, keyword stuffing is frowned upon in the Googlesphere. And thank goodness! Who wants to read the same phrase same phrase same phrase same phrase same phrase same phrase over and over again? Nobody!

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You might also like to include a call to action in your description. Would it make your viewers' lives easier if they could search for you and find your phone number?

Finally, choose a URL that is clear and indicates where the page lies within the site's structure. For example: company/topic....

And next time you Google something, take note of just how much the heading and description affects whether that's the site you choose to peruse.