The Changing Face of Search: Is Google Losing its Grip?

By Patricia Skinner

Search is changing at breakneck speed due to the colossal success of certain social media phenomena like Twitter , StumbleUpon and maybe FriendFeed.

There are definite signs that search is beginning to separate out, forming niches and tributaries that better feed the main knowledge stream.

Might Twitter be the New Google?

A few years ago formal search via a search engine was overwhelmingly the way people would set about finding whatever they were looking for on the Web. Google, Yahoo and MSN Live were the universal engines of search (hence their name).

Things have changed.

Michael Gray of Graywolf’s SEO Blog told me he uses the Customize Google FireFox plugin to get more out of the old method of search. But more and more web users are realizing that the top ranking web-page for a given search term submitted to a search engine will not necessarily turn up what you need to know in all its pristine glory. After all, you wouldn’t use Google to find a job online would you? Good. I’m glad you wouldn’t.

Change in search seems to be gathering pace, giving rise to a number of articles like mine. Here’s a similar opinion on the changing face of search: Twitter destined to replace Google Search.

As you can see, it’s not just because of the economy that Google stock lost a whopping 56 percent in 2008!

It is finally dawning on us that industry leaders or experts in their field are unfailingly the best source for information on any given topic. And it’s getting easier to find industry leaders and approach them, but not through search engines.

This is why sites like Twitter, Mashable, Alltop, SEOmoz, Sphinn, and other specialized social media sites that are increasingly used for search are gaining ground fast.

It’s not about centralizing your search anymore.

It’s now about finding better information than your competitors: can we say ‘knowledge is power’? Everyone is looking for those nuggets of information that will set them apart and above their competitors.

Skillful use of social media can put you in ongoing contact with the very people whose opinion and expertise you value. And there’s no limit to how much of this expertise you can tap into with tools like Twitter and the myriad of other specialized search applications springing up. Tap into the right sources and you can make yourself an industry-leader almost overnight.

Tracking News

Digg, Stumbleupon and increasingly Mixx are yet more sites that will help you find the latest on just about anything you care to name. You can subscribe to keywords so that you get everything on your subject of interest without having to do a thing.

Searching for specifics

Tip’d for financial information and news so you can invest your hard-earned money wisely.

FairShare helps you keep track of who’s copying your work and where it’s appearing on the web.

Checking up on gossip

Whether you need to keep an eye on your own reputation or that of a client’s, or if you’re digging up the dirt on someone (did I just say that?) you could do worse than use BackType.

Looking for a job

Mashable comes through for you yet again if you’re looking for a job: here’s a wonderful list of job sites to try.

Twitter is increasingly being seen by the search world’s industry leaders as an interactive search tool. Imagine being able to ask a question of the very top person in your field or in the field you want to know more about? This is quintessentially the beauty of Twitter.

Even if your target is not following you, it is still possible to address them directly. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’ll reply, but many of the top Twitter users, despite their busy lives, take the time to share generously with those who are interested in what they have to say.

This is like having a permanent spot at the stage door to see your favorite movie star!

Even AdAge and the Huffington Post have noticed that Twitter is the next big thing in search.

Tools to help you search Twitter

Twist is a new Twitter search application with lots of potential in my opinion.

Tweetscan where you just enter in your chosen keywords.

Twitter Search Results is a Greasemonkey script (Firefox only at the moment) to add real time results from Twitter to your Google search.

Your takeaway? If you’re relying solely on Google for your search needs maybe you should rethink your knowledge-building strategies.

Patricia Skinner is a Copywriter, SEO consultant & social media expert. She writes about what she knows best
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