The importance of social search and Google Maps

Written on 22 November, 2018 by Julia Hammond
Categories Search Engine Optimisation

Roughly 82% of customers conduct research before visiting a store or restaurant or making any type of purchase. This is why ensuring your business is searchable online can significantly contribute to your success. Google Ads and SEO are key components of this, helping your business to be found through keywords relevant to the products or services you provide.

But there are other ways your business can be found online that you should also be considering as part of your digital marketing strategy. The Web 2.0 and the rise in algorithms has led to the increasing importance of social search and Google Maps. Through these tools, consumers are able to find information about products, services and businesses that are not only relevant to the problems they want to solve – but are also relevant to their friends, families and locations.

How does it work? Let’s find out.

What is ‘social search’?

Social search is a tool that searches through user-generated content, such as platform-native text posts, videos, images and links to other websites. These search engines can either be inside a social media platform, like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, or can be a separate platform altogether, like Google, that collates results from everywhere.

The idea behind social search is that instead of ranking results purely based on their relevance to the query, it also takes into account the social relationships between the results and the searcher. For example, if you search for “high heels” on Facebook, you’re going to find posts from your friends relating to high heels, along with page suggestions that some of your friends have already liked or interacted with in some way.

LinkedIn also works in a similar fashion. If you search for a type of business, such as “accountant”, your top results will be accountants or accountancy firms that are related to your first, second or third-level connections. The same goes for Twitter and Instagram; any queries you search for will return content that is connected to your followers in some way.

How does your business take advantage of social search?

If you want your business to be found through social search, you need to be active on social media. Posting regularly, interacting with other users and developing a community of followers are all fundamental to your searchability.

It’s important to remember that not all social media is equal. The strategies you implement to improve your presence depends entirely on the platforms you’re using. For example, on Facebook, you would post regularly and encourage other users to post on your wall. With LinkedIn, encouraging your employees to have an up-to-date and active profile would be more beneficial.

Keep in mind that the more content on social media you have, and the more links that are shared from your website, the more your organic rankings on Google will improve too, helping to further your searchability goal.

How does Google Maps fit into this?

Google Maps is the most popular navigation app worldwide, six times more popular than its runner up, Waze, and just as important as social search for ensuring your business is searchable. While some users simply punch in the exact address they’re heading to, there are others who will simply search the name of the location. For example, if you’re navigating to a restaurant, you might type its name rather than its physical address. If customers can’t find you by your business name on Google Maps, they may believe you’re closed and choose somewhere else for dinner.

But that’s not all. Approximately 43% of searches are performed in Google Maps, which means being searchable on the platform is incredibly important for bricks and mortar businesses – and not just by your business name. Not only do we search for a restaurant’s name, but we also search for more generic terms, such as “café near me” or “restaurant near me”. Without optimising your business for these search terms inside Google Maps, you’re likely to miss out on a lot of opportunities.

To ensure you’re searchable on Google Maps, make sure you set up Google My Business and fill out all your details correctly.

It’s all about communities

Ultimately, social search and Google Maps are all about targeting communities. Whether those communities are your friends on Facebook, your connections on LinkedIn or even your physical community, they all help to foster trust between your brand and your potential customers.

Through user-generated content and the ability to see your location (and even your shopfront with street view), you’re allowing customers to put a face to your business. This helps to humanise your brand, increasing their comfort level and making them more likely to enter your doors or purchase from you.

Rather than outright telling customers to trust you, with social search and Google Maps you’re showing them why they should.

If you want to learn more about how social search and Google Maps can help increase your brand’s visibility, why not get in touch with one of our digital marketing experts? We’d be happy to help you develop a strategy that works for your business.

Looking for some help with domains, hosting, web design or digital marketing?

Send me marketing tips, special offers and updates