Search marketing has never been the easiest of marketing disciplines to master. Launching a successful search practice has traditionally meant developing excellence in both organic search and paid search, which are two very different practices. Now that many agencies and in-house teams have at least a rudimentary grasp of these two different areas of digital marketing, the landscape has become even more complex. Enter the rise of social search.

Social search can be defined as a third and distinct area of search marketing. Rather than an algorithm or an auction-based ad system providing results, social search is the community of web users who are the authors of such answers. For example, Yahoo! Answers, just one of the social search engines out there, boasts 90 million users and 250 million answers worldwide.

Human-powered search has also come into the forefront, with sites such as Mahalo and Cha Cha grabbing people's attention. Overall, social search has grown rapidly in recent years to the point at which search marketers now need to pay attention.

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