What Google+ means for Social Search

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Google+ SearchA significant part of social media is all about recommendations and sharing. In terms of SEO, receiving links from one website to another has long been a big factor in how Google ranks its results – but this has placed a considerable amount of power to publishers.

Thanks to social media, any average user is now given a slice of the action – as what they share and suggest has started to contribute to how people rank in Google.

Social search is happening

As SEO and social media overlaps, it is crucial for marketers to plan for search as part of their overall social media strategy.

The arrival of Google+ last June signalled the search giant’s intention to enter social media, but whether or not this was to directly rival Facebook was a matter of debate. Earlier this month, Google’s introduction of Search Plus Your World made it apparent that personalised search results are indeed going to be extremely reliant on Google+.

There has been backlash from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace engineers who created a “Don’t Be Evil” application that removes the Google+ exclusivity of the new search results – and this leaves us with an interesting question – how and where should we focus for social search?

The argument for Google+

As far as ranking in Google goes, you have to play by their rules.

Right now, Google+ is weighting content from Plus heavily, particularly the profiles of people and pages that it sees as being relevant to a search term. Just imagine the boost to your traffic and credibility if your personal photo, or company logo, can appear in a search for your niche above the paid advertising!

Another point to consider is that traditionally, Google takes age into account when it ranks websites – a brand new site is unlikely to be as trustworthy as one that has been established for many years. For this reason, it is worth establishing a track record on Google+ sooner than later. Google will also be using Plus to combat spammers, as your Google identity should be connected to a real person and behave in the same way – so if you create accounts out of the blue just to boost a page, it will look suspicious.

Other networks

As for the rival social networks, we can’t precisely say what the future holds. Will Google face anti-trust action that means its algorithms have to treat shares equally? Will Facebook’s connections to Microsoft and Bing result in an entirely new search engine?

You would be mad to ignore the significance of Twitter and Facebook for traffic, but unfortunately right now they will not do much to influence your search results. I have seen some social media commentators use Twitter as way to direct followers to their Google+ pages, which seems like a good compromise and also an opportunity to leverage both networks.

So how should you use Google+?

Right now Google+ is still in its infancy, and particularly for brand pages. The main thing to remember is that getting a relevant network is going to pay off in the long-term. This means that you should take advantage of some of Google+’s unique offerings:

  • Enter industry discussions, responding to other people’s shares or comments. Even better, start your own! Google+ offers threaded discussions that surpass Twitter exchanges, as the format allows for much longer contributions.
  • Share interesting images and graphics. You can use animated .gifs on Google+ which is something that give all kinds of opportunities to be creative.
  • Add +1 buttons to your website and blog posts, these give your readers a simple way to recommend your content – if you do only one thing on Google+, this should be it.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Hi

    Great post with awesome advice. I would expect no less from the world leader in Social Media Monitoring and couldn’t agree more with all of your points! These Google, Plus Your World integration into the Google Search results will transform the Google Search experience and ultimately provide pull through demand for Google+, which is the assumed intent by many industry followers. Anyone who thinks this is just another Google Search update or some lame attempt to promote Google+ is likely to be mistaken in our view. Having used Google, Plus Your World today, it has shown me what is possible and focused renewed energy on building out our Google+ circles which probably the intent. Internet marketers will do well to pay attention and heed your advice. ALL ABOARD!

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I like Google+ and all the interesting opportunities it offers, but ti be honest I don’t like Google Plus Your World. I think that they do the process of searching too personal. I don’t want my personal information be shown in it

  3. Really looking forward to seeing how Search+ and social search continue to impact more keywords. We’ll see if it really helps Google get more people into Google+ or not.

    • Hi Joyce,
      Thanks for the comment – my personal feeling is that the SPYW changes are going to encourage more people to sign up. A big reason for this is that as people’s search results become more personalised, they will a) see the value of joining, and b) be encouraged by Google directing links such as “see how you can appear here” with information on the benefits.

  4. Yes Google+ is still in its infancy state! Yet, we now see major change on SERPs… It is interesting to see further changes on the coming months.

  5. Google give specially value for promoting sites with Social Media and mostly senior advisor told me that get prepare yourself for Social media next update of Google algorithm also give the more value toward google + 1.

  6. @ Allie & @ Sanjeev Agree with this duality, it is useful, but some bloggers may feel overwhelmed….
    I’m really not into all these details with social media and new features, networks and techniques appear everyday. I have just managed to get my head around SEO and sometimes it feels like you need to keep your eyes on too many things.

    • Ohh I always felt like that. I was also not in these social networks but there are no way out from these. These networks are the channels for lot of information and setting up new trends.

  7. I think Social Media will very soon have a big impact on the search engine ranking algorithms. It already has of course, but not as much at present.

    My problem is that I’m so used to Facebook that it’s hard to get into Google+ as well, although their features sound great.

    Best,
    Michael

  8. From a blogger’s point of view I love Search Plus Your World. If anyone that follows me on Google+ is logged in they see what I have “+” or suggested first (hopefully). This is a blogger’s dream.

    But from a searcher’s POV there are times I need to just turn it off. I get annoyed that it shows me what my online friends like. Sometimes I just want pure results. Thank God we can turn it off.

    But overall Google + I love and I hope it doesn’t turn into Facebook. (which I love also.)

    ~Allie

    • Hi Allie, I agree but it might be nightmare for some bloggers too. There are many bloggers who does not give much emphasis on social networks and use only link building technique to get ranked.

    • Hi Allie,

      Yes that’s true about how social-search results can be a double edged sword, being able to turn them off is definitely helpful. Finding “pure” results will be difficult though unless you start using a Private or Icognito browsing session, as Google will always try to personalise your results to some extent.

      Sajeev has an interesting point, but I wonder if that’s a problem – I think that bloggers who are active in their niche’s community and so interacting on social networks are likely to be more valuable to a searcher than ones who just do linkbuilding. Of course there are always those who will “game” social networks to grow their reach – it really is a difficult one to find the right balance.

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