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Google+: The Effects on Social Media and Search Engine Optimization

Fact

Google+ has 90 million users and is growing very quickly, adding approximately 625,000 new users per day (as of Jan. 19,2012).

The prediction:

“I predict that 2012 is going to be a breakout year for Google+ and that it will end next year with more than 400 million users,” Paul Allen wrote.

Yes — 400 million users by the end of 2012. [That is not a typo.] In December alone, nearly 1/4 of all Google+ users (24.01%) have joined. Some of that growth is coming from the 700,000 Android devices activated daily and this number is expected to grow as well.

So, how do you know if Google+ is right for you? Given the fact that Google has just released 3 recent changes to their search algorithm on 1/10/2012, known as “Search Plus Your World”, it’s giving the mixture of Search + Social a whole new meaning.

Let’s dig into this!

What Makes Up Google+

Google+ is a place for real-life sharing and connecting online. So what exactly are all the pieces that make up Google+? It starts with your profile.

Google+ Profiles

Your Google+ Profile is a way to share information about yourself. With privacy settings, you can choose to share this information with the world or with a select circle of contacts, depending on your comfort level. It’s also a great way to share content created by you or that you suggest for further reading.

Google+ Pages

Google+ Pages are a way to spread the word about businesses or brands by connecting with customers and fans. They can follow your Google+ Pages by adding them to a circle or recommending you with a +1. Connect even further by having a Google+ Hangout, which gives you face-to-face interaction between your brand or business and customers and fans.

Circles

Organize your circles to make it easier to share relevant information with specific groups of people. You may want to send certain information to only friends and other information to your professional network. Having control over what you share with who is really easy with Google Circles.

+1’s

Recommending content and Google+ Pages has never been easier with the +1 button. The number of recommendations content receives or a Google+ Page gets shows up in Google search results. This +1 button can be integrated in websites to make it really easy to receive recommendations.

 

Hangouts

Face-to-Face interaction happens live with Hangouts. This can be done on an individual level through your Google+ Profile or represent your business or brand and start hanging out with customers and fans through your Google+ Page. It’s a great tool for engaging with your Circles, customers and/or fans via a casual meetup.

Google’s 3 most recent changes to search (As of 1/10/2012)

The Google+ tools are providing a fully integrated and personalized approach into your search results. From the number of +1’s received for content and Google+ Pages and the number of circles you’re included in, these types of social activities are starting to influence how Google search results appear to you. Here are the 3 most recent changes Google made to the search algorithm that integrates Google+ pretty heavily.

Personal Results

When you search for information, your results will now include Google+ photos and posts — both your own and those shared specifically with you. These results will be unique to only you on your results page. Personal Search Results

Profiles in Search

Profiles appear both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following.
Profiles in Search

High-Quality authors show up in these results, which is why it’s important to claim your content by getting validated as an author. [Check back for a future blog post about authorship coming soon!]
Google Profile Suggest

Once you select a profile and you’re signed into Google+, it’s very easy to add them to your circles right from the results page.
Profile in Search

People and Pages

Help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. The idea here is that behind every search query is a community.
People and Pages in Google Search Results

How is social media affecting your search results?

Search Plus Your World is creating a personalized search experience based on your social media connections and what they’re sharing. If you drive any business from online, you’re going to need a Google+ page if you want to achieve page one domination in the future.

Google has been pushing its Google+ results ahead of other social media networks and natural search results; which is basically forcing the adoption of Google+. With over 200 signals that make up the Google search algorithm, is it realistic to think a social media network is providing the most relevant information? Larry Page said long ago, we want to give you back exactly what you want, but with social networks at the top of the search results, the relevancy of information is debatable.

As the world of social media continues to explode with zero consistency, there is no way to determine what will be ranked for relevance or popularity on a consistent or long-term basis. Google makes changes to its algorithms on a weekly basis and as they are testing various strategies and receiving feedback about how they are leveraging their Google+ social media network, the algorithm will continue to change until there is a happy medium in the search engine results driving the most relevant content. I just hope Google doesn’t lose site of delivering exactly what you want.

While there is no simple answer and never a guarantee like 1+1=2, what always sticks with social media is being a valuable resource and building professional relationships with your social network, thus driving people to you directly. Building professional relationships through your social network through engaging conversation is one thing the algorithm can never change. It also requires consistent nurturing and feeding of content and overall dialogue. Get started today!

5 Quick Tips to Get Started In Google+

  1. Strategy: Think about your G+ Business Page strategy — what value do you want to bring to your target audience/customers/fans?
  2. Profile: Create your G+ Business Page and populate your profile.
  3. Segment: Create circles to segment your target audience. This will allow you to make the most of having relevant conversations with your target audience.
  4. Engage: Seek out industry experts and your target audience. Engage in conversations with them.
  5. Share: You can never go wrong with sharing information that would be of value to your target audience or industry experts. Use your circles to share relevant information to specific segments of your target audience.