How to Benefit from Google’s Search Plus

The integration of social search data is nothing new for Google, but with the release of Google’s new Search Plus Your World (SPYW and also known as Search+) search engine experts and journalists have been raising alarms over privacy and search relevance. Are there new factors for businesses to take into account now that Search+ has become the default search setting for Google?

What We Already Know about Google and Google Plus

Google+ has been an important part of helping content rank higher in a Google search long before the controversy over Search+. According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, “Social Search results have, since October 2009, allowed content from people you know to rank higher, if you’re logged in.”

With the rising popularity of Google+, a presence on Google+ can help you rank higher in search results. If customers A and B are friends, but only customer B is following you on Google+, you could appear higher in customer A’s search results because of your common connection with customer B.

Sullivan adds in his article, “Google has previously said that gaining +1s can help improve your ranking for those who have directly +1ed your content, as well as for those they are connected to. In addition, it can show even those who aren’t connected or using +1 an overall count for your page, should it appear for them naturally.” This integration of social search elements hasn’t caused too much of a stir until Search+ added a new wrinkle.

Putting Google+ on Top of Search Results

The key development with Search+ is noted by Erin Everhart of 352 Media Group: “The catch is that it [Search+] only factors in your Google+ social graph, leaving Facebook and Twitter, arguably the more active social networks, out in the cold.” Though more users are ranking content socially through Facebook, Google+ activity, at least for now, seems to have a greater impact on rising in search rankings.

According to Tim Carmody of Wired, part of the struggle is between Google+ and Twitter since Social Search prioritizes Google+ pages over Twitter pages. He writes, “Meanwhile, a ‘+username’ search is immediately recognized by Google as a search for a Google+ account — even though ‘+’ has a similarly well-established history as an operator in keyword searches. (In Google+ itself, typing ‘@username’ immediately converts to ‘+username.’)”

Carmody adds, “The company that conquered web search with a fast, objective algorithm that provided users with more relevant search results than anyone else is increasingly upending that approach to push its own products.” The key implication here is that a company’s presence on Twitter and Facebook won’t produce the same return as a presence on Google+.

The Challenge of Google Search+

Through the introduction of Search+, Google has created an environment where greater influence can be wielded through Google+. According to Nancy Messieh at Next Web, “Google+ power users will have a direct effect on search results, a consequence which could prove to be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, if you trust your Google+ network, your Google Search results will become even more relevant. On the other hand, could some of those search results be skewed based on an influential user you follow? It’s quite likely.”

The question boils down to what is most relevant. If the most relevant search content can be found on someone’s Facebook page, you’re out of luck with Google’s Search+ as a search engine according to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. Provided that Google stays on this course, there are serious implications for marketing teams and business owners.

The Implications of Search+ for Marketers

Your Google+ page could be at the top of the search rankings of your connections’ friends, and therefore Google+ becomes a kind of SEO short cut in some instances. In addition, if you provide a share button for Google+ on your website, you can gain more attention for your blog or web pages.

Google+ pages for yourself and your brand need to become an integral part of any SEO strategy now. In addition, Erin Everhart writes, “Search+ essentially forces brands to use their Google+ pages much like their own website. That means brands should integrate their main keywords into Google+ posts to increase their relevance in important searches. But again, this must be done in a natural, non-spammy manner.”

Local SEO may take the biggest hit with Google’s Search+, as personal results take up the top search spots, crowding out local results in some tests. This means that businesses that rely on local search results need to build local connections on Google+ in order to remain on the radar of Search+ results.

Whether Search+ provides more authoritative search results or merely waters down the relevance of Google’s search results, companies will need to seriously consider how to integrate Google+ into their search engine strategies. There’s a new way to rise to the top of Google’s search results, and it’s yet another social network.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a company that convert psd to html formats, and who also consults for an inspection company that specializes in Pre shipment inspections.

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