SEO Impact of Google’s Search Plus Your World [Curated - WIP]

This is an ongoing curation so bear with me and do feel free to suggest good coverage of this in the comments, I will include a link to your article if it adds value to what’s already covered here.

A bit of Background

On Tuesday 10th Jan 2012, Google announced “Search Plus your World”, the second leg of a journey that started back in 2009 and aimed at socializing search. More on it from Google here.

In a nutshell, Google’s search results have now been updated/upgraded to include the following:

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. Profiles in Search, both in auto-complete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
  3. People and Pages, which 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. Because behind most every query is a community.

Rather than immediately diving into my personal view on this, I’ve listed below the views of the top SEO authorities on the net.  My personal view (and the one that matters the most ;)) is at the end.

In case you missed the official announcement…

Reactions to “Search Plus” from the SEO community

What does this mean for SEO and to the future of search and social? Let’s start with some of the views and reactions from the industry.

1. SEOMoz

On SEOmoz this post here from Cyrus Shepard had the best insights. Namely that the “war for names” or online identities has begun and Google is determined to win it through good old fashioned SEO tactics including:

  1. Google’s SEO Tactic #1: Require Authors to Link to their Google+ Profile
  2. Google’s SEO Tactic #2: Encourage Large Circles Counts
  3. Google’s SEO Tactic #3: Search Engine Friendly Profiles
  4. Google’s SEO Tactic #4: Descriptive Title Tags
  5. Google’s SEO Tactic #5: Encourage Public Sharing
  6. Google’s SEO Tactic #6: Creative Rich Snippets

The above tactics should start to inform your Google Plus optimisation strategy.

2. WebmasterWorld

An interesting discussion from Brett, Neil Marshall (aka Engine) and the good folk over at WebmasterWorld.  This thread, spanning 2 pages and 60 reactions (as of this date) can be summarized as follows:

  1. Early on they reference Danny Sullivan’s post (future for non-advertising publishers)
  2. A bit of conspiracy theorists: Google’s use of SSL connections for logged in users?
  3. and more theories… bait to lure more Webmasters onto Google+ ?
  4. General consensus that Google is not as good as Facebook at suggestions based on social circle.
  5. Some felt that Google lost the plot,  “search is to learn new things not what friends tell me”.
  6. Very interesting and spot on insight: +1s, Likes, retweets etc.. are the new links.
  7. Some worrying concerns over privacy and comparisons to Facebook.
  8. Lots of webmasters are worried about traffic from Google. And the fact that traditional methods of optimsing for search have “gone forever”.
  9. Another conspiracy theory: “Google squeezing out the little guy”
  10. Some argued that Google has abandoned its neutral approach to search
  11. Some speculated that this will cause a massive exodus of users moving to bing (doubt it!)
  12. General consensus is “Like it or not, we got to jump on the band wagon!”
  13. And, out of all the reaction, this one is SPOT ON: “You might even say that user interaction is the new pagerank”. More specifically…

This feature will not boost rankings for pages that your Google+ friends visited. This feature will not boost rankings for pages that your friends post links to on Google+. This feature will include Google+ posts you’ve made and pictures you’ve posted, or posts and pictures that your friends have directly shared with you, in your search results.

This is essentially a stripped down, web-based, Google+-focused variation of their defunct Google Desktop [en.wikipedia.org] search application.

The best insight on Google’s foray into social search (I think) came from Ian Kelley:

Two things you can always count on from WW, thought provoking information and irrational Google hate :-)

The web is, of course, all about personalization so if Google doesn’t do it someone else will. They might be doing it wrong but it seems to me that they don’t have any choice but to try it.

The attempt at integrating Google+ is also a no brainer. No doubt most of us here are aware that social media has cut into search in terms of how people find information online in a big way. Any search engine that doesn’t find a way to deeply integrate social signals is probably going to be left behind. You might even say that user interaction is the new pagerank.

and

By incorporating social signals into search Google is attempting to add more of the human factor. They’re doing the same thing they’ve been doing since the beginning with link popularity, augmenting the algos with metrics that represent what people think about websites.

It’s not looking backward, in search when you look back what you see are search engines that died because they lacked the capability to take the searcher and the web as a whole into consideration.

link from Reno

The flap over Google’s playing up Google+ in its search results continues. Now Harvard professor and security expert Ben Edelman has weighed in on the debate. His argument: By embedding Google+ into search, Google is essentially prodding people to join its social network out of SEO fear…

Read full article here

3. Search Engine Land

Danny Sullivan (the Godfather of search coverage), has a thorough post on what Google’s changes mean for website owners, read it here.  What I like about Danny’s post is that it answered the penultimate question; how do I know if my search results are Plus my World? Answer, when you see this:

4. Search Engine Watch

SEW’s main coverage of Google’s algo change can be found here and here.

5. Mashable

Read this post

My view: In a Nutshell…

SEO has officially changed. Active content is the new king. What does this mean? Ensure your content is sharable and especially on Google Plus ! Simples! ;)

Here are 7 steps to get you started.

  1. If you haven’t already, register a Google Plus account/Brand Page.
  2. Promote it. If you’re a famous brand also promote in your offline comms such as press tv, etc. Believe me, it’s worth it!
  3. Link to your Google Plus profile from your website. Use rel=me to tell Google this is you!
  4. Get a blog. It is the 21st century!!
  5. Post often, but only related to your niche :)
  6. Share posts to Google Plus.
  7. If your blogging is relevant to your niche it will get shared by your Google Plus Circle

Follow the above 7 steps and you will rank in Google’s new search algorithm. Ignore the above tips and risk disappearing into the annals of the SERPs.  Okay, maybe a bit to dramatic but you get the message.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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