As Google + goes public and all test profiles are taken down (supposedly happening yesterday, July 31 – it hasn’t happened yet from what I can tell), it will be interesting to see how brands and rankings will be affected.
During the last few weeks, Google has been scrambling to work out a business solution for Google +. First, the search engine warned those businesses that had profiles that they would be kicked off the invitation only social network beta test. Google said there would instead be a test just for business profiles that companies could apply to be a part of; due to the sheer volume of requests, however, the search engine nixed that idea and said that, instead, a small number of businesses would be allowed to stay on Google + to test it out. Ford Motor Company was one of the businesses that was allowed to stay on.
Google vs. Facebook, Part Deux
It seems like Google is struggling with the incredible popularity of its new social network – and is having trouble calculating what the next move will be. However, Google’s Christian Oestlien has said that business profiles for Google + will be out in the next few months. Meanwhile, as Google scrambles, Facebook released a “how-to” page for businesses last week. This “how- to” is intended to help those companies who are creating fan pages on Facebook. It’s basically Facebook’s formula for success for companies trying to garner likes – and, therefore, business – on their fan pages. Facebook provides tips from building the initial page -Facebook’s advice is to “treat your Facebook Page like a hub where people can connect with you, learn what you have to offer and become your fans” – to how to properly engage your audience (“get to know your fans and make people feel at home by responding to Page feedback in a predictable, timely way”) to how to “get the word out” that you have a page (run a Facebook ad, etc).
It seems like every time Google pushes, Facebook shoves back; first with video chat, and now with business profiles. Except this time, Facebook is proving its ability to be one step ahead. Regardless of the back and forth nature of the issue, Google has been making some changes while allowing some businesses to have profiles. Now, if you are signed into your Google account and search something relevant to a company you are connected with on Google +, that company will likely show up higher in your search engine results.
Ford: A Test Case
Ford was one of the first companies to start using Google +, and even kept using it after being warned that the profile may be deleted so that Google could start testing business profiles separately (which, again, never happened). When Google decided to let a select few companies remain on the social network, it chose Ford as one of the lucky few. And now, Ford’s followers are seeing the face of search change with the evolution of Google +. Though it is not revolutionary to have those signed into their Google accounts to experience altered rankings due to the preferences of their contacts, it is to see brand connections begin to alter search engine results.
What do I mean? Well, let’s take a look.
This is Ford Motor Company’s test account on Google +.
These are the search results I see when I type in “car companies” while signed out of my Google account. Ford only shows up in the paid advertisements section, once.
These are the search results I see when I type in “car companies” while signed into my Google account (since I am following the Ford Motor Company page on Google +). Ford shows up at the top of the paid advertisements and in the organic results.
What Does It Mean?
Danny Sullivan noted in his Search Engine Land article on this subject, “Until recently, the social connections that Google Social Search uses have been mostly actual people. While brands were allowed to have Google Profiles until March of this year, few of them did. That meant relatively few brands were available for direct connections through Google. It was possible to connect with brands in Google Social Search if you followed brand profiles on Twitter, Facebook or some other ways. However, it was fairly unusual for me to spot that something was getting a boost in Google’s search results through that type of connection.” So, if you are a brand on Google +, your direct connection with your target audience will bring you higher up in their search engine rankings (when they are signed into their Google accounts). This could be huge for promoting loyalty and means branding on Google + will be extremely important.
To Sum Up
It seems like when Google + becomes fully public, those brands people follow and favor will tend to show up in their search results more. Brand loyalty and relevancy are going to become factors in each person’s (who is signed into his or her Google account, that is) search results.
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