I've become a big fan of Yahoo! My Web because I like to easily access my favorite websites from any computer. So I no longer store bookmarks on my local browser, but instead I tag my favorite URLs with relevant keywords using Yahoo My Web and retrieve them whenever I want by performing a search on keyword tags I have used. In most cases, I keep these tagged sites private, but occasionally I share some of them with all the other My Web users.
For a while, Yahoo has been touting this "social tagging" as a means of presenting better targeted results to its end users. Not to be left behind, Google recently launched its own variant of social search, Google Co-op, which relies on tagging in the form of an XML or TSV file. And now both Google and Yahoo have started incorporating certain social results into their search results or providing an option to search within social results. There are also a number of niche social search sites such as del.icio.us, digg, and Looksmart's Furl. All rely on tagging and sharing URLs with a community of users.
With the advent and growth of social tagging and social search, search marketers should evaluate these for opportunities to effectively market their products and services.
ProsThere are a number of benefits that can be gained from social tagging and from performing searches for content on social search engines:
ConsSocial search engines need to overcome the following challenges before they become a major part of searcher behavior:
Implications for search marketersThe future of social search depends a great deal on how fast the general searching public adopts it. It may never totally replace algorithmic search. However, it could be a great supplement to both organic and paid search, providing yet another set of criteria for establishing relevance for end users to consider.
Search marketers should strive to get their sites to rank in top 30 search results for their most important keywords on Google, Yahoo, msn and AOL, as most sites that get tagged are initially found by their "taggers" on these four major search engines. You can also create "bookmark buttons" on your key pages. Most of the major social tagging sites provide webmasters and search marketers with the code to do this. Similarly, you can tag your content with most relevant keywords and submit it to Google Co-op.
Before you invest your resources in social search, ensure that your site is already performing well in major search engines. Pay attention to these engines and how they are incorporating social results into their regular results as this has more implications on your visibility than how you perform in low traffic social search engines.
Naga Krothapalli, Ph.D., is director of algorithmic search at iProspect. Read full bio.
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