When Google first launched Google Plus, I was not interested. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Google or feel that it was inferior exactly. I just already had my primary networks; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google Plus had some OK features, but it felt clunky by comparison.
It wasn’t until I had a sense of Google’s plans for Google+ and the impact of building out a following on there that I fully embraced it. And once I did, it quickly became my favorite and most productive network.
To understand the impact of Google+ in the context of online marketing, you need to go back a couple years; back to the inception of Personal Search. Before personal search was rolled out, search results really only varied by location; and even then, they didn’t vary that much. Having a #1 ranking for your primary keyword meant dominating that search result. That all changed with personal search. Personal search uses your location, behavior and interests to tailor search results specifically for you. Personal Search simply makes Google’s results more relevant.
Fast forward to June 2011, Google launches its social media platform, Google+. By including results from Google+ in normal search results, Google is able to take personal search to the next level, by showing you results that are relevant to your network of friends.
Search Plus Your World
Dealing with competition from Facebook, which at that time had 750 million users, Google did what Google does – it found a way to pick up market share. By combining social with search, Google not only improved its relevance, but it also leveraged its biggest asset, Google Search, to build its network. This is called Search Plus Your World (SPYW) and its already impacting the market. Google+ is now sitting at around 500M users; about half as many as Facebook. However, it took Facebook nearly 6 years to reach that level – for Google, it only took 18 months.
Beyond Google’s emergence into the social scene, and the possibility of yet another social profile to maintain, you need to consider how Google+ impacts search. With the release of SPYW, search engine marketing now means you need to be engaged in social marketing – it is no longer optional.
The landscape of search engine optimization has changed drastically over the past 18 months. If you’re not engaging users in a real and valuable way, if you’re not cultivating your Google+ network, rest assured, your competition is.
So how do you start cultivating your Google+ community and make a dent in SPYW results? Getting a profile and a page on Google+ is a good start. However, there are some specific exercises you need to go through to make sure it’s your brand’s avatar and not a competitor’s showing up next to that #1 result for your target audience.
In the next segment, I’ll be covering how to establish your author profile, to help you get off on the right start with Google+ and SPYW. In the mean time, why not head over to Google+, setup your profile and have a look at how SPYW is impacting your results?