It’s the latest form of Social Networking, and Google are more than keen to let their new service grow to huge proportions. However there’s another reason for the search giant wanting to see their Google+ product grow and grow. It’s not just to beat Facebook, and it’s the main reason why the social network will hugely influence the work of SEO.
For years, SEO experts have been predicting that Social, in light of Facebook, Twitter and other social services, will become a huge influence in the world of search. Whilst some factors such as the amount of Tweets or Likes received by a page, have been proven to be fairly influential in terms of search position already; this would be nothing on the scale of what Google would like to create in the long term.
To stay ahead of its competitors, and to always be able to provide a good search result for its users, Google needs to constantly adapt its algorithm and take in whatever useful information it can, to decide which page should rank where.
A great source for deciding which page you’d like to read, therefore, comes from social media. You’re far more likely to want to read a page, or buy from a service, if your friend or someone in your social circle has recommended it to you. You’ve probably also got fairly similar interests too, so Google can be fairly confident that a recommendation from a friend is what you want to see in a search result.
Currently in Google search results, if you’ve linked your Google Account with your Twitter or Facebook, you’ll see recommended results appear mixed in with natural results, such as the example below:
However with the introduction of Google+; links shared by people you follow will equally appear as recommended results within search. This hugely expands social media directly into search.
Whereas previously you’d have to make the choice of linking your Facebook or Twitter account to your Google account in order to be able to see personalised results, you’d not have to do that if you were using Google+ – it becomes active automatically.
Google+ uses your usual Google Account, meaning that if you’re signed into the social network; the next time you go to make a search, still signed in of course, you’re going to see your search results still appear fairly similarly; but with personalised results scattered around the place.
A Benefit for SEO?
Perhaps not a direct benefit for SEO, but Google+ could certainly become a great way of driving your sites further up search results and seeing additional traffic.
The more influential you are on Google+, or in other words, the higher the amount of relevant people following you, the more influence you have on search results. For example if Stephen Fry were to join Google+ and bring his millions of followers with him, he’d suddenly become one of the most powerful individuals in the search industry overnight. Any link he shares would then be recommended and displayed higher in search results, to each and every one of his millions of followers.
If Stephen Fry joined Google+, he’d become one of the most powerful individuals in search, overnight.
Of course, relevant followers are the most important part: There’s no point in having thousands of followers if the majority are bots or never even use the service. Otherwise the sites you share on Google+ end up being recommended in search results to no-one; you have no influence. Buying +1s for your site is therefore a tactic of extremely limited value. Google are highly unlikely to put much weight, if any, behind a tactic which can be so easily abused; don’t waste your money.
This is all assuming Google+ takes off with the masses of course, as it’s currently, despite now being out of beta, still only popular with (mostly) the internet industry.
Google’s idea of personalised search being the default needs a highly used and extremely popular service, akin to the level of Facebook, in order to work. If people use the social network only occasionally, it defeats the point. People will need to use Google+ so regularly that they are virtually always logged into their Google account, resulting in personalised searches being the norm for the majority of internet users.