Why Google+ Wants You to Get Social

Google Plus

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?


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  • Truth be told, as interesting as the G+ model is, I have serious doubts that it will ever be anything more than a niche site (ning, foursquare, etc.). Early adapters are already onboard….and that’s it. FB and Twitter will adapt to the threats posed by a new network, and improve their products accordingly.

    • I hear ya, Jason — and I could see G+ plateauing and becoming something like 4square (even though we all know Facebook plateaued 4square when it created it’s own geo-check in feature, Places).

      You don’t think things are going well for G+, even despite the rapid growth to 10 million users pre-launch?

  • To answer your question, I have joined Google+ and put the +1 on my site and use it on other people’s sites. What I like best about Google+ is the ease of the creating Circles. As Google adds more functionality to its social network I hope they don’t continually change the rules like Facebook has. There is still a lot of confusion about personal and business pages on Facebook so when Google launches the business page function of Google+ I hope they don’t make it as difficult. Just let me have a business address without having to get 25 Likes. What do the Likes have to do with my business? So everyone has to go the trouble of getting 25 friends to Like your page. It’s just adding more unnecessary steps to the process.

    I haven’t engaged on Google+ as much as I would like or probably should. I’m also a blogger, and how many networks can you seriously engage in? It’s tough to establish priorities.

    • Agree, Jeanette — it is tough to engage across a variety of networks. But I think it’s what we have to do if we hope to reach people. People are what drive our businesses, so our marketing strategy and efforts need to be spent where the people are. This is especially true online, because it’s so competitive. There are so many different networks, forums, and groups to join — it’s hard picking just one!

      Take Facebook and G+ for example … G+ introduced some exciting new features, including hangouts, but Facebook has close to 600 million users.

      I have a feeling the G+ Pages are going to outperform the Facebook Pages in light of the services Google has at their disposal, specifically with Google Maps and Google Deals in mind, but what other features would you like to see introduced at G+, Jeannette?

      Also, in terms of the vanity url issue — I think it’s actually wise on FB’s part, because it requires brands to put together a bit of social proof before they can register a permanent domain. This helps prevent spammers and domain squatters from swooping in and swiping a brand name they shouldn’t have. So in essence, I think it’s a way to slow down the process as you say, but that’s actually a good thing, because it slows down those who can’t put together that social proof.

  • Really, really good article.

    +1’s will influence search results as you say. I also think this leads to making sure your content AND your site is optimised as much as possible. The onsite experience will be the focus of SEO.

    This next couple of years is going to be very interesting.

    • Definitely agree, Richard — we’re moving back to the basics in a way. Web publishers are going to find it more difficult to game the system, because engines are going to continue moving toward quality results.

      With a focus on quality, branded domains vs keyword rich domains (read more about naming your blog at FUEL http://goo.gl/qFNnd), the rel=author tag, and social proof built in with +1 buttons, I think we’re heading to a place where it’s all about the content. But not in the typical “content is king” notion that everyone throughs out there, yet continues striving toward quantity over quality … I mean, your niche has to really dig your content, otherwise it’s going to fade away.

      Optimization is truly moving toward human eye optimization as well as search engine optimization, which will enable web publishers to level up in way.

      What do you think the next thing to go will be in terms of moving away of traditional optimization? Google no longer looks at keywords and can generate their own descriptions if needed, so I wonder what they’ll move away from next — any ideas?

  • Cheryl

    In Google+ , I do like the circles concept – good for controlling privacy.
    With the aim to compete with, social networking site Facebook, internet search giant Google has recently unveiled its version of a social networking service “Google Plus” to foray and base itself in social networking space .

    • Hey Cheryl,

      Google’s proven to be a competitive company — diving into the coupon market, mobile operating system niche, and so much more, — so I think you’re right: G+ is going head-to-head with Facebook, but it’s also important to look at the motivation behind it all.

      Improve search using social data.

      Facebook didn’t want Google inside the walls of their network, so Google did just as they did when Groupon turned down their 6 billion dollar proposition … they start their own.

      Have you had a chance to try out the hangout feature?

  • In an effort to capitalize on the opportunity for improved search visibility for the array of media types included in search results concepts like came about..Fast forward to 2011 and youll find that search results have evolved from 10 blue links to situationally dependent mixed media results that vary according to your geographic location web history social influences and social ratings like Google Plus. At any given time there are of Google s core algorithm in the wild so the notion of optimizing for a direct cause and effect are long gone..Google 2011.The incorporation of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook into Google and as link sources have changed what it means to build links and whether PageRank is still important.

  • I really liked your blog! Its … Awesome

    • Thanks Santosh! Drop by more often

  • Google plus no doubt a great achievement in Social media world.. It really a great tool to analyze how many people like particular web page or website….And i firmly believe that if so many people like your webpage you will start gain rankings in Search engines doesn’t matter how much offpage activities you did for your site..

    • Hey Jeff,
      I think offpage activities still impact your rankings a lot. Google+ is sort of like a catalyst to that but not the main formula.

    • The various signals involved with SEO are dwindling down to a few majors ones … and they’re mostly off-page signals.

      Search engines are moving away from the on-page signals because they can’t depend on them … people abuse them too much. Part of the genius of Google+ and the +1 button is just that … it’s one giant off-page signal that Google can trust 100%. Sure, people will likely try to abuse it by selling +1s and whatnot, but I think we can rest assured those people will be caught and given the boot, as it would be happening in Google’s backyard as opposed to the wide open world of the web.

  • Good article Jeff. It will influence search results and think that the leads content is optimize. This will focus on SEO increasing your rank when it shared in social.