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Not too long ago, the Internet was all about autonomy. If you were looking for something specific, you would go to a search engine, plug in your search term, find the answer, and move along. Back then, the results you found online were strictly based on your search terms and the algorithms of the major search engines like Google and Yahoo! But now, the Internet is a social web, and Google is spinning search in a whole new direction.

Including Social in Search

The debut of social media changed the entire Internet. The inclusion of social into search has been increasing rapidly. Traditional social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were just the beginning. Following the trend setters were link-sharing sites like reddit. Major participatory sites like Wikipedia and blogging also add an entire element to the Internet that alter search as well.

Today sharing, following, commenting, and “liking” is a prime source for people to gather and exchange information. Sure, search is a bigger part of the equation but social is successfully moving in. What does all this mean for Google? Well, all of this effects how Google makes money, so it means the search engine has to be proactive with changes rather than simply reacting. When search-based surfing becomes smaller, and social sharing becomes larger—Google has to do something about it because it changes their bottom line.

If you haven’t noticed yet, Google is attempting to bring social into their brand and use your network to influence the things you find when using their search engine. Take a look at the steps the company has already taken to build their own social empire.

From Search Engine to Social Search Engine

To rival Facebook, Google launched its own platform Google+ last June. The Google+ project aimed to connect individuals and create relationships based on interests. At first, the public speculated Google+ would practically replace Facebook, much like Facebook replaced My Space. With time, the Google+ project proved not as successful. Although people initially were excited about this new social platform combining the benefits of networking, connecting, and video chatting, not a ton of people committed. In efforts to improve the situation, Google continually updates the social network.

Months after Google+ launched, Google announced another one of its bricks to build a social empire—Google+ pages. Google+ pages were designed to create a connection through common interests and passions. These pages were to help businesses and brands connect with customers, and offered a place for users to recommend the page. According to Google, the pages help people transform their queries into instant connections.

Following the Google+ pages was an update that merges search and social on a different level. This January, Google upped the search experience with Search Plus Your World. This update meant Google sifted through content as well as people and relationships. For example, if you were searching for a trip to Hawaii, the results would include relevant Google+ posts from your connections that concern traveling to Hawaii. The goal here was to enable everyone to get information from the people around them. For now, Search Plus Your World is just an option. However, in an attempt to be an all inclusive social brand, Google could potentially make this a permanent upgrade to make the cocktail of search and social concrete.

The Forecast for Google’s Social Empire

Because we’re all social beings, collectively performing about three billion searches per day, connecting social and search together can be used to everyone’s advantage. As further evidence of these benefits, a study suggested people are more likely to click to your website from the search engines if your face appears next to your listing. Better yet, the creation of a Google+ page and an integration of rel=author, can increase your click-thru rates by 12 to 15 times.

We believe social activities like this will continue to impact your organic listings in ranking potential, click-thru, and conversion. It’s an important part of online marketing and should be addressed immediately within your company.

Between dabbling in the social networking field and its ability to integrate search results and social connections, Google is embracing the new era of the Internet—and it’s even more important for you to claim your territory within the Google Empire.

Client Spotlight: Sporting goods and search marketing success

RIP-IT Sporting Goods started nearly ten years ago with the hope of making something good, great. After witnessing a younger sibling suffer an injury during a softball game, two brothers recognized a need for lightweight, easy to manage face guards. Sure enough, the brothers successfully designed and created new equipment that rivaled existing protective gear.

What was once a single product shop run from a garage is now an all inclusive baseball and softball go-to. RIP-IT offers a variety of sporting goods besides face guards including baseball and softball bats, helmets, and bags nationwide through online retailers.

Rip-It BBCOR BatA new opportunity for RIP-IT last year called for increased marketing efforts, and search marketing played a big role for the company. For anyone unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes of baseball and softball, the equipment has certain standards and regulations for ensuring safety and optimal performance. Recently, new regulations for baseball bats were introduced and every student in the game had to get new gear. Because every high school and college team has to abide by these standards, RIP-IT wanted to become a major player in the sports industry for the newly required BBCOR bat.

For RIP-IT’s vice president of marketing and design, Matthew Delgado, being a front runner for the new bat meant gaining a competitive edge online.

“We wanted to have a dominant online presence by ranking higher on Google,” Matthew said. “We felt no one else takes advantage of that in our industry.”

With so many potential new customers looking for the new bat, RIP-IT wanted to be exactly where the people were. By targeting certain keywords, RIP-IT was able to secure beneficial positions on the search engine results page during the BBCOR frenzy.

According to Delgado, RIP-IT has seen significant increases in traffic to their site as well as traffic to their online retailers. Once upon a time, certain keywords for their targeted products were hidden on the tenth page of the search results. After working with SEO.com, the company has jumped to the first page of the search engine results and is happy with their rankings.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find and buy our products,” Delgado emphasized. “It’s about getting our name out there and we wanted to have better interactions with our customers.”

SEO Tip: Build Site Authority With Content

When it comes to search marketing, targeted traffic equals more revenue. The success of a website is mostly determined by the number of targeted visitors received. To help build website authority it is important to utilize a number of different media.

Sure, writing articles keeps the search engines happy—but there are other avenues of content that build authority and keep readers interested. Try implementing a variety of the following content and SEO rich suggestions.

  1. Infographics. Creative infographics are social sharing gold. Infographics with a unique idea and proper execution are a strategic way to lure more visitors to your website. By including SEO copy on the page, you can ensure the page will appease search engines as well. Don’t forget to leave an embed code.
  2. Videos. You can drive traffic and increase leads if you utilize video marketing and optimize properly. Provide a relevant, interesting video for your audience and be sure to have a compelling title, keyword rich description, and also add tags.
  3. Blog posts.Blogging has tons of potential to trigger and retain traffic. Guest blogging is a great way to branch out from typical blog posts because it helps bring in new traffic and even solidifies your authority.
  4. Webinars. Presenting to a group of users utilizing a video sharing program builds your brand and can help you leverage links. Embed your webinar on your site, and even add a notes section to add any necessary written content or keywords.
  5. White papers or eBooks. Develop an informative guide. White papers help capture leads and a lot of people are willing to share the wealth of knowledge. Also take the time to optimize the PDF.

Diversifying the type of content you provide helps keep your website interesting. Appeal to your audience and encourage social sharing to really maintain and attract targeted, revenue-boosting traffic.

Industry events

SMX Advanced: Seattle; June 5-6

SES Conference & Expo: Toronto; June 11-13

Optimization Summit: Denver; June 11-14

Conversion Conference: Chicago; June 25-26