How would you like to get to the top of the SERPs, by building 1,000 links or by getting one guy to +1 your site?
Do I have your attention yet?
Google Search Plus Your World has radically changed the way SERPs appear to people in your social networks. Even before Google+ started boosting in-network results to the top of the SERPs, the effect of social media on search results has been heavily researched for a while.
Google’s made it even easier to see the difference between personalized and universal results by using their convenient toggle button on the right-hand side of the results.
In reality, the only thing it does is add “&pws=0” to the end of the URL, which is a common (and dubiously effective, thanks Dr. Pete) method for depersonalizing Google search.
Google Knows All
First off, you’ve got to know that Google can make connections between people in seemingly impossible ways. They have the power to connect you to people in your networks anywhere they go or share, including networks that you’re not actually a part of.
And Google’s proprietary networks aren’t the only ones they can pull data from. They have deals with several major social networks (like Quora) that give them pretty much all of the information they need to connect you with people. Of course, this would be much richer with direct access to Facebook and Twitter’s data streams, but that’s another post.
Using things like Quora’s info page and Google+’s own “connections,” Google search can (and will) find your friends. And it uses that to enhance its results.
But just how much does this change Google’s results? Running a quick test, a search for “burritos” turned up two in-network shares from Google+, three pictures, and two websites. Those same results were nowhere to be found in the top 100 of a depersonalized search for burritos.
One share can boost you over 100 other results? Yeah, I’d say that’s worth some effort.
How to Dominate Local Networks
We know it’s important, but how do we get to the people we want to target? Finding the right people, connecting with them, getting them to share your content and maintaining the relationship seems like a daunting task, but there are several tools that can help you achieve total socio-geographic domination.
Google+: “Nearby” and Search Features
This stream view is unique to mobile devices (due to their GPS-tracking abilities), but there’s a hacky way to access it on your desktop. Follow this URL:
You’ll be taken to the mobile app view in your browser. Allow it to track your location, and you now have a stream of all Google+ shares near your area. Sexy, yes?
It appears to pull posts from about twenty miles in all directions, so it’s relatively limited for the scope of our project. For greater distances, you can use Google+ search and drill-down by location.
To do this, simply type in a keyword relevant to your target audience (“social media” in this case) and type in the location you’d like to search. Ta-da! All of the shares in that region on the topic.
You can narrow these results down further by type (People, Pages, Posts, etc) and by people in your circles, or just those outside of them. Gold mine!
I never get tired of telling people how awesome Followerwonk is. They mine Twitter’s data so deep that they’re approaching its solid, metallic core.
You can search by topic, location, names, URLs, and more. You can filter by follower counts, results, relevance, and more. You can sort by followers, WonkScore, Tweets, and more. And more. I can’t say enough about this. If you want to find Twitter users in your area, use Followerwonk.
Twitter Advanced Search
Speaking of Twitter, they also provide a great deal of impressive search options. Twitter’s Advanced Search allows you to search by keywords, add negative keywords, search by sentiment, filter by location and vary mileage from the specified location, limit to profiles or share text, or nearly anything else you could possibly imagine.
The tools available for this sort of thing are nearly endless. Here are a few more that you can try out:
- Google Search w/ Advanced Operators
- Blekko Search with Slashtags (/twitter)
- And more!
Social Link Building
So now you’ve got a list of everyone near Scranton, Pennsylvania (I’m watching The Office right now, sorry), but what do you do with it? Just having Mike, Jim, Pam and Dwight (alright, I stopped, ok? I’m focused…) in your circles doesn’t mean you’re going to start popping up in the SERPs, you’ve got to get some social proof going.
Let’s talk about social link building. Here are some great ways to get your social contacts to +1, Tweet, or Like your content:
- Ask them.
No, really. Just ask them. Thank them for connecting with you and see if they’ll tweet an article or +1 your home page or like your fan page. It might not work every time, but not many tactics do. Just give it a shot.
The Snowball Effect
Google+ has over 150,000,000 users, by last count. If you get just a handful of those people to +1 your stuff, you’re possibly reaching several thousands of users. If you’ve targeted just people in a geographic area, you’ve got some serious coverage going on.
So here’s a look at a SERP before personalization, and after.
Hmm… where am I?
Ah hah! There I am!
So there you go! How have you used social media to get local search share? Do you use social media to boost your rankings?