Should my brand be using Google+? That is a question posed to many SEO and online marketing professionals by business owners who are novices to online practices. Coincidentally, I read a post this morning, calling social’s benefit to business into question. Google’s social media platform is still very young; the passing of time will help us better assess its true value, but immediately, considering the platform allows for brand pages, it’s another source for online marketing in the least.
Estimates and theories can only get your brand so far; maybe viewing the traction of other brands first is a good place to start. Fair enough? That makes sense, right? Why don’t you keep track of how the Cadbury brand fares in using the Google+ platform?
Is your brand preparing to launch a new product or service? Such efforts could cut into your marketing budget, but your brand can use social media to facilitate a launch, such as the Cadbury brand did, saving money, but not cutting corners when it comes to exposure.
What I thought was additionally savvy was the leveraged dynamic between multiple social media sites. Cadbury has accumulated over 900,000 Facebook fans; the former using accrued fans to facilitate the success of the Google+ page launch. The process seems to be working well; the endeavor fielded over 500 likes and 181 comments and counting…
The cost of such a process has to be little to nothing (the cost of in-house resources uploading an image and orchestrating the Google+ page?). I encourage all business owners to track the development of this Cadbury campaign; take notes and consider using some of the same practices in your own efforts.
In addition, the new candy bar’s wrapper is infused with Blippar technology, a new application for smart phones. Whoa, the Cadbury brand has been doing its homework; maybe they learned by surveying the trials of other brands; you can too!
Are you on team Edward or team Jacob? Oops wrong drama; I meant, are you on team Google or team Twitter? I’m on team “user experience” myself; I always had to blaze my own trails. If you have been vacationing on Mars the last few days, there’s been some talk in the SEO world regarding Google’s modification to its Google+ social platform. There’s no need to reiterate a multitude of Google+/Twitter information you can read on the topic popping up here, there, and everywhere on the Web. What I would like to call attention to is my disappointment as a user.
A Safe Assumption?
What is the Web? I always thought it was a place to secure information – relevant, authoritative, objective information. How can I access that coveted information? I must use a SE (search engine). Google, as everyone knows, is the leading search engine (right now). Okay, Google is the big kid on the playground; as a user, I’ll assume the best, objective info is on that SE, especially considering it continuously modifies algorithms and unleashes a Panda on “naughty” Web masters, right?
As most eyes have read, Danny Sullivan wrote about what we should expect from an SE. It should transcend business and the self-serving sentiments of mortals. Search engines should be more like Santa, a selfless champion of goodwill for all. Would Santa leave a few battery-operated presents under my tree, purposely omitting the batteries so I need to buy them from Santa’s Electronic Boutique? Not my Santa!
I think Google is in the middle of an identity crisis. Ultimately “Google” is ONE brand, playing several roles. Google is a search engine provider, the biggest (and best?). Also, Google is a provider of additional products and services, like the Google+ platform. Hey, Google staffs a lot of smart people; I’m continuously impressed by the technology and level of thought produced from the brand. However, if you’re producing goods and services (and making partnerships with other businesses producing services and products), then leveraging your OWN search engine to offer them, there’s going to be a noticeable conflict, yes? Do I blame Twitter, Facebook, SEO experts, novices, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers for calling, “Shenanigans!”? No, I don’t.
Why am I not on team Google or Twitter? Why remain neutral, like Switzerland, in this debate? Because like you, the reader, I’m ultimately a browser, one who desires great service from (any) search engine. Twitter and Google are in a tiff over Twitter’s availability in “Your World” results and otherwise. Google raised a good point in reminding them of a previous business understanding. A “business” understanding, ah, perhaps that’s where the issue lies. Twitter raised a good point, we the people do use the service very often, depending on the platform to deliver real-time information. Shouldn’t a search engine experience most definitely include such a popular, widely used and effective service? I think so. Do you?
We the Users
If we all agree, why are we, the users, punished for such business-related conflicts? If Google and Twitter cannot work this out, if Google can’t cure its identity crisis, understanding it might not be able to juggle multiple personalities at once, what suffers more than the revenue streams of these respective brands? The ultimate online experience suffers, as well as we the browsers – plus one for business, plus zilch for users.
One of your new, enthusiastic SEO clients, especially one who owns a local business, searches Google for one of his keywords only to see one of his pages ranking very well. Only a week into his campaign, he frantically calls his project manager to relay the awesome news only to learn the truth: his search results are just that, his.
After several whadayamean‘s and long pauses, a history lesson begins on how Google personalizes results. He did his search from his home computer, which is just a mile from his business. He was also logged in to his Gmail account, has a Google+ profile and visits his website several times a day, usually from Google.To make it easy to understand, let’s visit each layer of search personalization.
How Location Affects Search Results
Where you are in the world helps to determine which search results Google will display. More accurately, Google will use the IP address of your computer to assume your location. But why does Google care where you are? Well, that depends on the intent of your query.
According to an internal Google document meant to train human quality raters, Google is looking to figure out if you want to do something (such as visit a restaurant), know something (think Wikipedia) or go to a specific brand’s website (such as Sony).
OK, so what does this have to do with your location? Well, if you’re looking to check out that new Italian restaurant near your apartment (a new one opens in my town every 5 minutes), then you probably don’t want to see restaurant results from all over the country.
This level of search personalization is active for all users, whether they are signed in to Google or not. Additionally, searching for something that returns a variety of places will actually change the layout of the Google result page.
How Web History Influences Search Results
In 2007 Google really started to personalize search results with Web History, which could track your movement from page to page via the Google Toolbar with the PageRank meter turned on. In 2009, Google increased personalization further by giving precedence to certain pages based on your behavior as well as listings created from your online social network.
Google’s search algorithm originally gave pages a rank based on how many links it received, where the links came from and the relevance of the linking pages. Now, Google adds a human element to the calculation. If you follow X person online, you must consider this person an authority on some level. If X person visits Y page, and a connection can be made between you and person X for a related query, Google may assume that this page will provide value to you as well.
For example, if Jack visited the website for Pizza Place A and you are friends with Jack online, Google may want to show you that same page even if that page would not normally rank based on the original Backrub algorithm.
How Google Plus Personalizes Search Results
On January 10, 2012, Google did what most Internet marketing professionals expected them to do: fully integrate personalization and search with Google Plus. Read Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Land post regarding Search Plus Your World to see what’s in this latest update. (Hint: you’re going to see more stuff from Google Plus in your search results.)
So what does this all mean?
As a business owner with a website and an online marketing campaign it can be frustrating to know that what you see when you search isn’t what the rest of the world sees. The good news is that some level of personalization has existed for years. So if your SEO campaign has continued to be successful, your SEOs have already helped your website adapt to personalized searches by utilizing the power of social media.
The bad news is that Google has changed the game yet again to promote one of their services. And now it seems that adding a Google Plus page for your business to your social media portfolio is almost mandatory if you want to stay ahead of the competition. At least until Facebook opens its data to Google.
For now, Search Plus Your World should probably be called Search Plus Your Google Plus Minus Your Facebook.
Social media popularity is already believed to affect Google’s search results (for Bing, this is fact), but Search Plus Your World takes social signals to a whole new level.
It’s been an interesting season for online marketing and the search engine optimization industry. As SEO practitioners closely follow the evolution of search, it’s becoming more apparent personal trends and social media engagement are making way into the SERPs. Google, the most coveted of SEs, suffered a blow to its ego in 2010, a year Facebook received more visitors. 2011 stats read a bit differently, yet at this point, Google can’t ignore the sight of Facebook. Perhaps G knew it was time to engineer a “move.” Google did move into the social media stratosphere, offering Google+, its own social service, but now it’s a lot more…
Google recently (fully?) divulged its plans for Google+ integration. As many in the SEO field predicted, G is aligning Google+ info into its natural search results’ pages. Google+ members, and those signed in to Google, can experience two levels of search: the broader Web we’ve all grown accustomed to leveraging, and now, the “Search Across Your World” personalized engine, unique to each individual.
The new integration of the Google brand’s social site information is ironic because many sensed the tension between the two Web titans. Some theorized Facebook, with its 800-million-plus users, would usurp the SE throne away from G by offering a better search engine, one that would include a lot of social-site-rooted results in searches. Who did it first, the still servant and master, Google.
Will users embrace the option? We shall wait and see. Do those in the search engine optimization industry enjoy Google’s dominance? Recently, a number of quirks about Google+ and Google results and integration have raised concern and speculation.
What may seem hypocritical to some is the omission of social results from other social spheres, mainly the “competition” Facebook, along with Twitter. As Google promotes the use of “Your Web,” it is blindingly ironic there are no plans to integrate info from other social spheres as well. Shouldn’t outside-of-Google-brand online behavior be categorized under “your Web” too? Google project manager director, Jack Menzel, states it’s because Google only “has access to info from one social graph,” its own Google+ platform.
Maybe the integration of Google+ info into the “Your World” search option will not be so momentous after all, you can switch back and forth between the “old” and “new” results option. However, it wouldn’t be outlandish to flirt with the notion that Google has more plans in store…
Stay tuned in, readers. Google made a major move today, but Facebook, expecting to go public early this year, has its own in-house moves to ponder. It’s necessary for Facebook to look at the whole landscape, the entire Web “board” now. Is Facebook hiding some soon-to-be strategy behind its own visage or does Google have its competition in check?
Thanks for reading.
A spammy report surfaced over the weekend stating Facebook was planning on charging for membership to the social media page. The company addressed this today by stating:
It is free and always will be”.
The false rumor stated that there will be three different types of memberships, each charging a different price per month. The outrageous text did not take long to appear on many walls, pages, and internet directories.
On a separate note, other reports surfaced today stating that Google+ may have raked in a total of 38 million members to date. The new social media site acts as a bigger and better version of Facebook, offering things including video chat, “hangout”, self-broadcasting, search, and more. These features Facebook lacks, however in a direct response, the company rolled out a whole bunch of updates including “Timeline” last week during their F8 summit in San Francisco. CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the keynote speech.
The company is expected to roll out their IPO next year and experts suggest this may be the most profitable IPO of any major firm in recent years. In fact, it may rival the 2004 IPO of industry giant Google, where shares were first offered at $84 per share. Facebook’s IPO is still a ways away thus the share offering is unknown, but is surely expected to shoot to the moon considering how buy-happy investors were during LinkedIn’s IPO earlier this year.
By now, just about everyone’s heard of social media. After all, even the Pope has a Twitter account. But what about social SEO? With the introduction of Google Plus, social SEO has become an industry buzz word—and for good reason.
As most people are aware, Google will soon launch its own social network platform called Google Plus, unarguably a smart move. With the booming popularity of Facebook and Twitter, Google needed to adapt. These sites were doing something that Google wasn’t. Through wall-to-wall sharing, likes, tweets, and re-tweets, these Internet powerhouses promoted websites through popular social interaction. And now Google hopes to do the same through Google Plus.
Google Plus is more than just another Google product, though. It’s an extension of the Google Service. While they look forward to providing a social media service, Google also hopes to fine-tune their search engine algorithm—hence social SEO. In addition to backlinks and other optimization tactics, Google admits that it has incorporated social engagement into its algorithm, including the new +1’s sites receive. These can now be tracked in Analytics and Web Master Tools. When a site is shared through Google Plus or +1’ed—similar to a “like”—that site’s SEO value will increase.
However, Google Plus isn’t the only part of the latest social overhaul. They’ll also be re-branding the popular picture editor Picasa as Google Photos and Blogger as Google Blogs. Undoubtedly, this is an attempt to get all their products and extensions under one Google umbrella, similar to when Writerly became Google Docs.
It’s not just Google who’s adapting, though. As Google makes moves, sites like Facebook must counter. In fact, many believe the launch of Google Plus triggered Facebook to move forward with their link-up with Skype, presumably to compete with “hangouts” available through the upcoming Google Plus platform.
When you think about it, the Internet is entering its third evolution. During the first stage, people used the Internet to locate news and entertainment. During the second stage, people wanted to share what they found with other users. Google won the first stage. Facebook won the second. During stage three, users will seek the best way to manage their connections. Who do you think will prevail?