Social search is a type of search on the Internet that establishes relevance based on the connected togetherness of people within a social context (e.g. friends on Facebook). It involves considerations such as shared bookmarks and tagging (see Delicious as an example). It can also involve sophisticated data mining techniques as covered in my Information and Analytics article.
In the fullness of time, search criteria can be derived from various sources and can encompass tags, bookmarks, images, videos, news, social commentary, social ranking, collaborative discovery, usage & sharing patterns, etc. Social search is in contrast to the algorithmic search engine method of analyzing the text of each web page and the linking structure between pages.
The following chart portrays a comparison between social networks and Google, showing referral traffic to the illustrated destinations which include media (e.g. People magazine) and commerce (e.g. Netflix) sites. It is worth noting that the analysis does not take into consideration the many other search engines, likely due to Google data being most readily available; Nor does it identify the social networking sites. Be that as it may, the chart does highlight the significance of social search as a movement more than worthy of consideration.
A key take-away is that social search is a dominant capability which users will utilize in conjunction with traditional Internet search to find information.
As an owner of a website wishing to attract attention and aspiring to establish an audience of new & returning visitors to my website, I leverage search engines and social media networking to spread my reach.
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