Social Search Engine Optimisation? Google's Buzz is part of a bigger strategy
Just before the Google Buzz announcement (and associated bad press) Google announced a change to its core search product. This is a potentially huge change and a pointer to Google’s broader strategy. Given the annual budgets aligned to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for Insurers, IT Vendors and brokers alike, this change deserves a closer look.
Social search was originally announced last year as an experiment and then released as part of the core search product this year. In brief, social search uses a persons connections to personalise the search results. So for instance, if you search for Car Insurance and your friend Bob has something to say about Car Insurance on a blog or Twitter – then you will see a link to that in your search results along with a summary. For example in my Twitter feed I follow Aleksandr Orlov – the meerkat character used in comparethemarket.com’s advertising campaign. In my search results for Car Insurance I see an update from Aleksandr suggesting I go to comparethemarket.com. In effect free advertising for that brand. Of course if one of my friends has had a bad experience with a particular insurer the details of that will be visible to me in the search results too, and I would likely get in touch with them as a result to understand the issue.
It becomes clear where Buzz fits in with Google’s strategy – Buzz is less about creating a new Twitter or Facebook, but more about getting users of Google’s products and particularly the search product to provide more, rich information about their own content and their network of friends.
Why is Google introducing this change? The Guardian newspaper in the UK recently reported that more twice the number of people were coming to news organisations web sites from sites like Facebook and Twitter than from Google News. This demonstrates a huge shift in the way people are interacting with the Internet. In the last decade people went to a portal or plain search engine web site and keyed in what they’re look for. In this decade people are being fed relevant links from their network of contacts. This again places Buzz as a core part of Googles strategy to remain relevant on the Internet.
What does this mean for insurance? Simply, the automation of word of mouth. It means that the various social network sites will become increasingly important. Many Insurers are already investing time in a Twitter and Facebook presence and must continue to do so. Not only will Twitter updates and Facebook updates appear in front of people when they use those websites but increasingly these updates will appear in search results. Positive comments about the company should be repeated and lauded. Negative updates from customers will appear in their friends search results, responding directly to criticism where possible and stating your brands position will become increasingly important. Of course, you could take this approach and ask your customers to ask their friends about your product.
Look out for Celent’s upcoming report on Digital Marketing. Feel free to add your comments below too.