It seems the past few weeks have been abuzz with talk all about that new Google+ thing … what it is, how to use it, and why it will eventually kill Facebook.
Instead of adding to that chatter, I wonder if we might be able to discuss a few other topics.
What will change in terms of the search experience, search engine optimization, and the fight on social spam.
The User Experience of Search
As the web becomes more and more populated with content, the harder search engines need to work to discover what should be prominently positioned. By working harder, I mean including more signals, looking to other sources for insight, and slashing sources that fall short of dependability.
In addition, when the web became a much more social environment, search engines took notice and wanted in. They created Social Search early 2010, which featured content from various networks, including Twitter, but Facebook shut Google out at some point — probably because they heard Google was working on a little project themselves.
So in addition to providing content from the social web to users searching Google for content, Google also wanted to use the information they found to rank pages with better insight. Instead of looking for keywords and meta, Google could use the social information they found, including what’ was being shared and voted up or re-tweeted, and factor it into their algorithm and make a more informed discussion regarding whether or not the page was relevant and worthy of prominent search results.
The Social Signal and Search Engine Optimization
With social data, Google will be able to present content people like, because similar to linking, social sharing (bookmarking, re-tweeting, and +1ing) is a form of link. Links, as you know, are the gold to search engine optimization because it takes a lot for one web publisher to link to another. It requires you to put your reputation on the line, because if your following doesn’t like the link, you’re not going to look good. With social sharing, if you share content with your friends and it’s cool, then you’re cool.
This is even more risky for people with personal profiles, because you’re risking your reputation as yourself, not from behind your website, so Google is probably going to be paying even closer attention to the social stuff in addition to the contextual based links. Not to mention the Google authorship markup that it has included for blog authors.
Search engine optimization specialists will surely begin exploring their options in terms of increasing their social activity, even though there’s one simple solution: create compelling content people want to share. Because not everyone will be interested exploring social optimization from a white-hat perspective, we’re going to see black hat specialists on the scene as well, which means more spam, manipulations, and perhaps even penalization from Google.
How Social Spam Will Hinder Our Social Experience
Though Google has their users’ best interests in mind as they move into the social scene, they’re also opening the opportunity for a lot of manipulation and risk of ruining the experience for users. That said, you can’t let a little risk stop you from trying new things. Google will strive to create the best search experience possible alongside fighting the endless battle with the spammers interested in manipulating their system.
These spammers will likely create dummy profiles and try to cheat the signal by adding +1 votes to their own content. Come to think of it, who knows whether or not they’ll find success in this method, as Google should be able to analyze the data and figure out the ghost user is tied to x, y, and z votes, which are all tied to l-m-n-o-p website … curious.
How Are You Getting Social With Google+?
As Google encourages us to get involved with the social web, not only because the social web is incredibly fun and informational, but also because the data they receive first and foremost helps them create a better experience for us, their users.
I’d love to hear how you’re getting social with Google+, including whether or not you’ve implemented the +1 button on your pages and whether or not you’ve started engaging with others at Google+ itself.
How do you like the functionality Google included into their search results pages?