A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

New Info on How Social Affects Search

October 19th, 2011

Google’s at it again!

Google just released a “new feature” that has search marketers freaking out.  Danny Sullivan explains it on his blog (Search Engine Land) here.  But I’ll give you the short story and how we may use it to our benefit, especially for those involved in Social Media.

Here’s the short story… 

When someone is logged in to Google and clicks on a natural listing (non-paid) to get to your site, Google will no longer show you what they originally typed into Google.  NOTE: This is valuable information that every analytics program has reported on for years.

For example, if you own a website, you can see that a certain percentage of your visitors came from search engines.  Of those, you can drill down to see what search phrase they typed in.  For site owners, this is valuable data.

Until now, we have used this information to determine which phrase brings the best visitors (that eventually convert to leads or customers).  We can also find certain phrases that perhaps don’t bring much traffic, yet convert well.  We then try to find a way to rank better for those phrases that bring a little traffic so that they can bring more traffic.

Don’t totally freak out yet…

The truth is, Google is only making this change for visitors that are logged in while using Google.  Google claims that less than 10% of users are logged in when they search.

(Most of us aren’t believing that one.  But we’ll see.  Even if it is true, it will likely grow.)

Overall, it’s bad news for search marketers.  Less data is something we never appreciate.  Knowing how to read good data is often the key to success.

Here’s how it affects social…

As a side benefit though, we may finally now start learning how many users actually are logged in while using Google.  This is something Chris Penn recently asked at a Social Fresh event to Brandon Uttley and Roy Morejon during their session on how Social affects Search.

It’s a good question.  Google is definitely changing the looks of search results when a person is logged in.  It may over time start changing the actual rankings of search results more and more.  (I have my doubts on that one.  But it’s possible.)  But it all depends on the user being logged in while using Google.

So, in about a week, take a look at your analytics.  Drill down to those that visited your site via Google.  In general, you will see what phrase they used to find your site.  However, make note of those that came via “(not provided)”.  Those are the ones that found you while logged into Google (and via a natural search listing).

Losing this information stinks.  But if we look on the bright side, at least we can get a general feel of how many are actually signed into Google and have the potential (or already have) been affected by social media factors.

NOTE:  Don’t get too excited.  Just because they were logged in does not mean social had anything to do with it.  It just means it could have.

Your thoughts?