The Future of Search and Why You Could be Missing Out
The best leads generated for an aesthetic practice have historically been word of mouth referrals. The individual was told that you were the surgeon to see and they valued their friend’s opinion so much that they decided to contact you.
Social Media has introduced a new wave of brand awareness by giving individuals who support your business a much larger mouthpiece. This tool has given so many people an opportunity to broadcast their opinions that the search engines had to take notice. Ultimately, Google, BING and other search engines are trying to index websites that users find to be “the most interesting” for that given query.
To date the search engines have relied on a matrix of inbound links, textual relevance, keywords in the domain and much more to mathematically produce a search result that suited your needs. They were, however, missing one major component…the human element. Possessing this missing piece, social media is and will be increasingly used to measure the relevance and rank of your website.
Bing Search is Going Social to Improve User Experience
Facebook partnered with BING in October 2010 and their goals were very clear: To Make Search Social! On May 10th, 2012 BING announced a “relaunch” of their search engine with a slew of updates designed to incorporate social into their search results. When signed into Facebook, BING users now have the opportunity to “ASK a FRIEND” about a topic. BING will make suggestions on “Friends Who Might Know” and even “People Who Know” about a given topic.
BING will also showcase an activity feed from your friends on Facebook about the subject. These updates will undoubtedly change the user experience by giving individuals more information about who their friends like, what their friends think about a topic, and who the real expert on this topic is. For a more detailed analysis of BING’s update, please see “Bing Relaunches, Features New Social Sidebar”
Google Increasing Social Interaction in Search
BING isn’t the only search engine making changes. In January 2012, Google announced the “Search Plus Your World” update that would bring some elements of your social activity into their search results. When asked the question, “Does the +1 button affect my site’s performance in search?” Google replied:
Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1′s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we are starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.
How Do You Feel About a More Social Search?
In conclusion, if the internet plays a role in the acquisition of new patients for your practice and you are not participating in a social media strategy that is encouraging engagement and interaction, NOW is most certainly the time.
Have you seen more social search results on Google or Bing? How do you feel about search engines bridging this gap as you navigate the social atmosphere for your patients and practice? Visit our Facebook page and let us know.