“Search Plus Your World:” Google Plus Now a Bigger Part of Search
Yesterday, Google debuted what we all knew was coming: a revolutionized search that fully integrates its own social network with results. Within the next few days, those who are signed into their Google accounts and are searching Google in English will find some changes have occurred when it comes to search results. Focusing on the goal to revolutionize search so that it understands relationships and people and not just content, Google presents the following three changes to Social Search on its Inside Search blog.
(More) Personal Results: When you are logged into Google, you’ll be able to find information that is tailored to your Google + experience; this means that photos and posts, either that you have shared or that others have shared with you, will show up in your SERPs.
Google + Profiles in Search: You’ll be able to find your connections or people might want to be connected with in both autocomplete and the search results.
“Because behind almost every query is a community:” Now, Google + brand pages and users’ profiles that are related to certain topics will show up in the search results, from where you can follow them easily. When you search something, you can better understand the moving parts with different, more social results rather than with simple content.
The functionality of these changes will always be there, BUT in the upper right hand corner of the search results page, users will be able to turn off social search during each search session and return to unpersonalized results (you can also change your search settings so you never see social results):
Image courtesy of Google’s Inside Search page.
So, What’s the Problem?
While these changes were as predictable as they come (most everybody knew that Google was headed in this direction), problems arise when it comes to exclusivity. Google has galvanized the anger of the other social networks – most notably, Twitter, whose spokesperson has this to say about the search changes:
“For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet. Often, they want to know more about world events and breaking news. Twitter has emerged as a vital source of this real-time information, with more than 100 million users sending 250 million Tweets every day on virtually every topic. As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results. We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.”
(The search engine superpower responded to these accusations with a pithy but biting sentence on its Google + page: “We are a bit surprised by Twitter’s comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer (http://goo.gl/chKwi), and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.” In fact, as Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan reported early this morning, it would seem Google’s position is that it doesn’t have permission to include Facebook and Twitter information, as Danny reports the following comments from Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google: “Schmidt then said: ‘I do hope when you speak to Facebook, you ask them analogous questions about opening up their index and all that content that’s behind there,’ ending with a smile.”)
My (Humble) Opinion
Though this type of social integration is great, in all honesty it would seem logically that it is missing a great deal without data from Facebook and Twitter’s millions of users and repeatedly proven influence. Google Plus is young; there’s just not as much there. Without Twitter and Facebook data, is the true social fabric of the world really being represented? Is social search – which is likely the way of the future– really effective if it’s only using a small percentage of data we know is out there? Google notes in its blog post about the changes that, “Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search.” But, it’s not really that rich (at least for me), considering I have at least 10 times as many social connections on Facebook than I do on Google +.
How Will This Affect SEO?
We have been talking and talking about the implications of social on SEO, and more recently about the implications of Google + on optimization. With the further integration of social into search results, brands will have to not only have their pages on Google +, they’ll also have to keep them active and useful, and they’ll have to provide a seamless and overall good user experience. Further, brands should have as many employees as possible on Google +, and they should be interacting with their peers and even with customers as much as possible.
Looking to learn more about Google +, social media, or interactive marketing as a whole? Want to learn about how all of this impacts SEO? Keep coming back to our blog for regular updates about all that’s going on in the online world. If you have questions that are more specific to your business, give us a call at 770-481-1766.