Our Blog

16 Jan 2012

Google’s Search Plus Your World? – Not in My World!

January 16, 2012Social Media

Googles Search Plus Your World Not in My World

Last week, Google announced Google’s Search Plus Your World (can we just call it Search Plus?) and the whole internet marketing industry is a buzz. Or so it seems.

We all knew it was coming, so it’s not a big surprise that Google+ is now integrated with search results. Maybe the big surprise is the timing, since G+ still needs a lot more work to be a full-fledged social media hang out.

Not in My World!

All of you should know me as an Internet marketer or SEO. Therefore, I participate on social channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as time allows (don’t worry Pinterest and GetGlue, I will get to you some day too).  I use the channels to promote Vertical Measures and sometimes our clients.  I try to keep my personal Facebook page to be just that – personal.

And like many of you, my friends IRL (like my life-long friends) and my family almost never use Twitter or Google+. Which is exactly why I am not all crazed over Search Plus.  It just isn’t a factor – yet. In fact, I tried a very simple experiment to make my point.

My Post on Google+

On Tuesday, around 3:00pm MST, I posted the following on my G+ page.

“So today Google made a big announcement right? “Search Plus Your World”

I certainly don’t see any great short term benefits for the vast majority of searchers. First of all, none of my “non internet marketer friends” use G+. Some might be in the 100 million G+ users figure, but they don’t use it. And they certainly are not sharing information that will help me with my searches at all.

Sure I have been voting for some web pages with 1+, and those results might be interesting, but how long do you think it will be before my Google Circles are helping me buy a pair of hiking boots or even my next TV? In fact, now that I think if it, I better get rid of hundreds of people in my circles if they are going to be influencing my search results. Most of them are internet marketers pushing their client’s products — which does not necessarily reflect their true opinions.

Maybe this will have an impact on my searches in a few years, but not today. You agree? Am I missing something totally obvious here? Do I not understand how it will work? Set me straight!”

Now I have about 1300 people in my circles and about 1600 people have “circled” me.  I waited about 18 hours and not one person commented or voted for this post.

Twitter and Facebook to the Rescue

My next step was to tweet out just once to see if I could get some interaction on Google+.

Arnie Kuenn Twitter

As a result of that single tweet, there were finally some comments and interaction on my Google+ post.  But even that was only a few people and fizzled within a few hours.

So my next step was to post the exact same text over on Facebook.

Arnie Kuenn Facebook

I have about 470 friends on Facebook, which is one-third the people in my G+ circles, and as I have mentioned, most of those are my “real” friends and not internet marketers.  Yet I had immediate interactions from several people.

So without Twitter and Facebook, I would have had absolutely zero feedback on my Google+/Search Plus rant.  I admit I am no Danny Sullivan who would have had dozens and dozens of responses, but I am trying to draw a comparison to the typical person on Google, not Internet marketers.

Search Plus Your World – Not Today, But Eventually

Now I am also the same guy who thought Twitter was stupid and couldn’t see why anyone bothered with Facebook. So I am not going to make the same mistake and tell you Google+ will not matter. It will. And it will in a big way. Eventually.

IMHO Google will not let this fail.  Even though the 100 million users (or whatever it is today) is impressive, we all know that the vast majority of those users probably didn’t even know what they were signing up for. Google pushed it on searchers and did so quite effectively. We also know that engagement has dropped off since its launch. At least that’s what we have seen and heard. But Google+ has potential as a social media platform and at a minimum it is a decent voting platform. It certainly is having its impact on search results.

Impact on SEO

Google+ is part of Google’s effort to change how search works, placing an increasing importance on signals from its own social network.  All signs point to Google+ being a big part of Google’s plans for affecting how search ranking work. Take a look at almost any blog post with G+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter buttons. Facebook and Twitter generally have a lot more activity than G+ or LinkedIn and I don’t see that changing in the short term – a year or two.  However, I am confident there is an imbalance in the weight a G+ vote gets in the algorithm. So now is the time for you and your business to start building your audience on Google+. Learn how it works and begin to form real connections with people who share your interests. (Or ask us about building out your Google+ profile for your organization.)

Backlinks Still Matter

For the last 10 years (basically since Google came to be), links have been the primary way to influence search rankings. No doubt there will be an increased influence from social signals, with a slight preference towards Google+. From both Bing and Google’s view, the rich data set to be found in the social networks are significant indicators of quality and relevance.

I believe this means links will have a slightly less impact on search rankings over time. Backlinks are still going to be the primary signal for quality and relevance if for no other reason than they have a more permanent nature than most social signals. And let’s not forget links to the social content and profiles seem to give those a boost as well.  My recommendation is to continue doing what you’re doing with link building, but to also ensure that your content is distributed on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

But Your Content Matters Most

It’s now clear (unless you just can’t pull your head up out of the sand) that high quality, engaging content, posted on a regular basis, is the winning strategy.  Search Plus hasn’t changed that. On the contrary it is more important now than ever before.

If you look at the types of content that gain the most popularity on social networks (including blogs), it’s those that have provide the best opportunity for interaction. Engaging content often include photos, videos, links, and longer text in general.

Conclusion

If you understand the content marketing cycle (we created an 8-step process here) and you are implementing it, you are going to be just fine no matter what changes occur in the search engines. The bottom line for consumers is valuable information.  If you are providing it and your competitors are not – you win!

I would love to hear your thoughts on Search Plus in our comments below!

9 Comments

  • Angelique Jan 16, 2012

    Arnie — Did you see this by Jim Tobin? “Is Google+ Less Interesting than MySpace? New Data From Users Says Yes.” http://j.mp/wmMZIr

    Per month, the average Google + user spends 5 minutes on the site. The average Facebook user spends 394 minutes.

    As soon as I read your story about the way your Facebook friends interacted with the post your Google + followers ignored, I thought of the new article above, which came out on the 12th.

    I’m sure Google doesn’t WANT Search + to fail, but I’m sure they didn’t want their other less-than-successful projects to fail, either.

    Several days ago there are a lot of calls by influential tech writers for everyone to switch to Bing. I wonder if people really did switch?

  • Arnie Kuenn Jan 16, 2012

    Hi Angelique – I had not seen that article by Jim, but is sure backs up my little rant above. thanks for pointing it out. Re Bing, I do use Bing once in a while, but I fear old habits die hard.

  • MaAnna Jan 16, 2012

    Thank for the post Arnie. Since it’s release I’ve seen 3 categories of folks on G+ in order of numbers
    1) online marketing strategists and social media gurus
    2) young foljs who want to hang with their buds via webcam
    3) everybody else

    I was slow to adopt the +1 button until G+ made it relevant, and now Search + is the only thing that makes them relevant.

    I got a personal G+ account as soon as I could and spent quite a bit of time learning how to use it, then tappered off until biz accounts became available. Got one of those, but can’t access it via my iPad, which is where I read/post all of my social media. So, if I use it at all, it has to be from my personal account. And the app is crap. Somebody needs to loan them an iDevice so they can see what millions of their users are experiencing and why maybe millions more aren’t showing up daily. Facebbok and LinkedIn let me use a desktop view with ease. Not G+.

    I’m weary of Facebook’s improvemnts causing an unreliable platform and tanking my numbers randomly. Had high hopes for G+ being the stable alternative. As you said, not yet. Not until more folks adopt and visit daily so we marketing folks have the opportunity to develop relationships with them as we have on other platforms.

    For now, I’m putting a lot more time on LinkedIn and it by far out-paces anything else for getting paying clients. Highest ROI of any social media platform, IMHO.

  • Arnie Kuenn Jan 16, 2012

    MaAnna – agreed the G+ app for the iPad needs lots of work. LinkedIn is a really solid, and overlooked platform for business development. We need to do a better job of engaging on LI ourselves.

  • Alan Bleiweiss Jan 17, 2012

    I’m the same way, taking the same view Arnie. Yeah, Google can eventually force it on the world. So for now, we’re creating profiles. But that’s about it. In the mean time, I’m going to continue to envision the day when this latest move by Google is akin to Microsoft putting IE on their OS desktop, bullying PC manufacturers into ignoring Netscape, and then crying “it’s part of the OS” when they got nailed.

    Didn’t Schmidt or one of them recently say “we don’t have separate businesses”? Yeah. Exact same nonsense. Right up their with owning ITA and then displaying travel results and prices (which turn out to quite often be less than ideal values because they come through the ITA system), and all the other moves the big G has been doing.

    And if Google eventually gets split up (yeah, right – the U.S. government is so corrupt and owned by big business, it’s pathetic), like AT&T was all those years ago, I’ll be a happy camper.

  • Arnie Kuenn Jan 17, 2012

    Hey Alan – it happens to all successful big businesses. Microsoft, IBM, AT&T… it’s just part of the cycle. But are you really going to switch to Bing?

  • Angelique Jan 17, 2012

    The problem with trying to switch to Bing is Microsoft’s own lack of good Bing applications. Word is that the Bing search bar for Firefox is very buggy, and they don’t even make one for Chrome or Safari. (I guess the Safari part may not be their fault!) Anyway, no one wants to give up the convenience of using a little search box on the top of their already-opened browser window, so even if you want to use Bing more, you don’t.

  • Alan Bleiweiss Jan 17, 2012

    I’d switch to Bing if Google went out of business. :-)

  • John E. Bredehoft Feb 10, 2012

    Arnie, I just read your account of your test after reading the account of Tim Moore’s test (as you know, Tim experienced the opposite result when sharing a picture on both platforms; he had significantly higher interaction on Google+).

    In your case, I would have expected much greater interaction on Google+. Especially in the early days, Google+ users would flock to any mention of a new Google+ feature.

    This obviously merits further study.