One of Google’s recent innovations is the introduction of ‘Search Plus Your World’ to their own social media channel Google+; when you type something into Google and have a Google+ account, you not only get search results from Google’s algorithm but also from content that has been shared with you privately.
Although there was outrage by a few industry experts (for example Twitter citing it as a bad day for the internet) it does seem to make sense. In a study undertaken by Nielsen it was stated that 42% of people trust search engine results, while a huge 90% trust recommendations from people they know.
The Implications for SEO
The introduction of Search Plus Your World shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to search engine marketers and has been welcomed by many who are already incorporating social media into their SEO strategies.
Since Facebook and Twitter started their online domination many SEO companies wondered when not if, the huge amount of likes, shares and re-tweets would influence the Google search results.
Google suggested that it had started to take into account social signals in the results it served up, but it was never going to be a partnership of open information sharing between staunch rivals Facebook and Google.
So in June last year Google introduced the beta version of its own social network Google+, +1 buttons started to appear next to organic search results and then they started to influence results. This cemented the use of social signals in influencing search results.
However the introduction of Google+ and +1’s didn’t cause many ripples in the SEO world, especially as the official branded company pages only became available in November 2011.
Many saw it as a desperate attempt to keep up with the increasingly dominant Facebook and the underdog Twitter. The introduction of Search Plus Your World in January 2012 gave search engine marketers an insight into what Google is planning for the future – personalised search results dependant on the content online that your connections like and share.
What this means is that gaining good rankings on personalised searches will depend on having fresh, interesting and shareable content rather than depending on links and domain authority.
And don’t think that personalised results are isolated; Google has hinted that personalised results will influence the public algorithm and therefore general results.
What does this mean for your search engine strategy
What we have to remember is that Search Plus Your World is still in its infancy and is only relevant for a small minority of people who are actively using Google+ enough for results to show.
With many people dismissing it as just a way for Google to give life to its own version of a social network, it is however still a sign of things to come as social signals and peer recommendations become ever more important in the search engine results that are served. And although Google+ is used by a fairly niche audience at the moment it has huge potential for growth, as this chart shows comparing it’s growth to Facebook and Twitter:
The next step for Google is to ensure it filters out spam results and ensures privacy issues don’t tarnish what it is trying to achieve. And In order to live by their mantra to serve up the most relevant results to searchers they also need to incorporate other social network’s results as it did in it’s now legendary Real Time Search results (pre-Twitter and Google breakup).
The Adido viewpoint
We feel that Google Search Plus Your World is a really exciting development and is a great insight into Google’s vision of the future of search.
We are strong advocates of brands creating engaging, shareable content and already work with many brands to create meaningful relationships with their customers through social media.
With social media, SEO and PR becoming increasingly intertwined we are looking forward to working on some really strong integrated strategies for our clients. We do a lot of SEO work and are sick of seeing websites sneaking into good search engine positions because of their spammy backlinks and outdated SEO practices.
There is always going to be an element of gaming Google but we feel that Search Plus Your World is going to force brands to pull their socks up and work hard to gain those good rankings through genuine customer service and engagement.
What do you think? Have you had any experience of Search Plus Your World yet? Are you or your brand on Google+? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.