How Social Signals Impact Search Behavior

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Image From the Study shows eye-tracking data where one subject skipped the first two non-annotated results, focused on the socially-annotated results, and then clicked on them.

I came across a recent Google study about how social annotations impact users’ interactions with a SERP.

The full text of the study, “Perception and Understanding of Social Annotations in Web Search” is available online.

Here’s an excerpt from the study’s conclusion. To me, this language indicates that, based on searchers’ behavior, social signals will become even more important in the future:

“As the web becomes increasingly social, more and more information signals come from social sources. Users expect and demand to be able to search for socially-sourced information. Appropriately making use of social annotations to explain these social search results, therefore, becomes a necessity. While much work has gone into using social signals for search, much less is known about how users can and will make use of social annotations to make decisions during search sessions….

As web users become more social, they bring their social context to search and they expect and demand search engines to make use of this social context. Our research is a step toward this direction by investigating how social annotations affect user search behavior.”

The Takeaway?

This study shows that users are gravitating toward search results with social data and authorship snippets. To stay ahead of the curve, keep building influence across social networks and get your Google+ profile, pages, and authorship set up. Search will only become more social in years to come.

 

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