Since the launch of Google Search Plus Your World back in January, there have been continuous shifts and developments in the world of search and how social accounts, profiles, and posts appear in the SERPs of major search engines. Google indicated Google+ would be profiled more in the search results for logged-in users and Bing announced several months ago that social media, with a particular focus on Facebook, would be in integrated into their algorithm and show in their SERPs to offer a social dimension to web queries.

Another facet though is personal and corporate brand searches and how social media factors into it. An interested study covered by Search Engine Watch entitled “Social Search Result Rankings for Top 500 Tech Writers” in February that squarely addressed personal brand searches gathering statistics on exactly how often various social media accounts show in SERPS of personal brand searches.

follow up study was just recently done that offers valuable insight and addressed changes in SERP visibility since February. They found that for personal brand searches…for which they searched 50 of the top Tech writers, the likelihood of Twitter results appearing on the first page of Google increased by 4% to 95% of the time. LinkedIn results increased from 67% to 76%, Facebook jumped by 10% to appearing on the first page 62% of the time, and Google+ increased only 3% to 36% of the time. As a follow on to those stats is the finding that Twitter results appear with the greatest frequency in the 1-3 positions of the SERPs at 62%.

The other side of the study looked at the activity of the writers on their social media accounts to see if there was a correlation between activity level and SERP visibility, and there definitely was. In short, high activity on Twitter experienced by 71% of the writers was widely seen(while 89% of the writers had little or zero activity on Google+) and Twitter is the social platform that was seen the most in the SERPs, and the most in the top 3 spots.

Takeaway for Businesses
Visibility appears to be largely based on activity (sorry to those thinking Google was arbitrarily placing Google+ above other results for such searches) and Twitter has simply dominated. Both personal and company brand should be posting with high frequency on their Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ accounts without sacrificing quality of post content. So for the company representatives and the SEO and social media agencies partnered with these companies, consistency is the key here to sustained relevance and authority…surprise.

The experience of searches for companies should be largely similar to that of personal brand searches. Thus, companies have another reason to prioritize their social media campaigns.

One large caveat is that all the searches that were performed were done while not as a “logged-in” Google user. While logged-in, Google+ results for personal brand searches could be more visible in the SERPs across the board.  It is unclear how this will develop further in terms of which platforms will be profiled, if it will remain largely based on social activity, and how it will relate to company brands going forward. The SEO community will be tracking it and there are sure to be more quality studies like this conducted and put out for all to learn from.

For more information about this, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.

SEO on Yandex in Russia

Global search is immensely important and competition is fierce – where there is competition. Google remains the dominant platform globally, but does have stiff competition in several international markets. Among them is Russia where the local search engine Yandex has successfully fended off the surge of Google. According to Search Engine Watch, Yandex leans on their knowledge of local search in Russia and their consistent refinement of their search quality. To that point, Yandex has made several recent improvements that are worth noting for their innovative nature and SEO implications.

Are Recent Results More Important?
This heading presents an interesting question to which Yandex contends the answer is – Yes. They have refined their ranking formula for queries related to the latest events and news that now returns the user a group of links of the most relevant, recent documents. That refinement utilizes a real-time robot, Orange, which is designed for indexing regularly updated websites. All results from such a search can additionally be filtered viewing those from the last three days. This refinement addresses a segment of Yandex search that receives much attention. According to the company blog, search queries regarding the latest events and news are some of the most popular on the search engine, from 3-% of all searches. As such, this improvement makes it easier to find the most recent information on Yandex’s SERPs.  In terms of SEO, companies should utilize news releases optimizing for relevant key terms to be able to be profiled in such SERPs.

Social Searching
Google made waves with their introduction of Google Search Plus Your World, and now Yandex has introduced a similar measure. Yandex added content from social networking sites across the board and when a user searches for a particular person, for example, public profile information will result. Additionally, they have instituted a partnership with microblogging site Twitter making public tweets available in search query results, thus adding in a layer of real-time content. This particular search technology is run by Topsy Labs, a company that specializes in indexing real-time social data. According to a Yandex statement, “Social networking has given people the opportunity to share the latest news and exchange links.” The statement continues, “Using this information, we can significantly improve our news results and provide our users with the information that is interesting for many.”

Clearly, Yandex is trying to retain the competitive edge in their Russian market.  Statistics vary depending on the source; StatCounter has Google with 55.9% market share while liveinternet.ru has Yandex with 59.4% market share. Regardless of the exact number, competition is fierce between these two giants in the Russian market. As a result, businesses catering to the Russian market should be keeping a close eye on Yandex and employing SEO for both search engines. Partnering with SEO companies to optimize specifically for these major players is a good strategy, but one that also utilizes paid search and social media marketing to further drive targeted traffic is best. A similar battle is being waged by Google in China with local search giant Baidu, and we will be tracking each as search innovations continue to progress.