I’ve asked this before, but “what will Google think of next?” In the past week, we have seen yet another shift in how Google will display search results to the end user. I have referenced 2 posts from Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) of SearchEngineLand.com which clearly lay out the changes you will soon see & examples of this change already taking effect. In brief, Google is ramping up their efforts to deliver even more “personalized” results to you in the form of content derived from your social network. They are dubbing it “Search plus Your World” (SPYW) but I prefer Sullivan’s moniker, “Search Plus” as it seems to only pull data/suggestions from Google+. Here is Google’s video showcasing how this will work:
You may be asking yourself, “How is this important to businesses, like mine, who promote themselves online?” The video above does little to show how the algorithm’s changes will impact searches for products, services, etc., and instead focuses on the social aspect of search. My opinion on Google’s emotionally charged advertising tactics is another topic completely, so today I will focus on how this change compares with my prior commentary on social media and search.
As I have stated before, it is not a matter of “if” but of “when” your social media channels will play a role in how you rank. What I missed in my prior post, however, is which results this will effect and how the results will be different. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Previous Statement: “In a nutshell, the activity of social connections via Twitter, Facebook, and now Google+ can influence the types of results you see when conducting a search.”
Google, Twitter, and Facebook have gone round and round the “friendship carousel” for years but this latest change seems to draw the line in the sand, at least for the foreseeable future. With the latest change, it is abundantly clear that Google will only be featuring “Your World” content found within the confines of Google’s social sphere (YouTube, Google+, Places). Sullivan does a great job illustrating that although Google is not ignoring these other channels/signals (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), it just seems that they are favoring their own content when a Google search is conducted. If I could update my previous statement, it would read like this:
“In a nutshell, the activity of social connections via Twitter, Facebook, and now Google+ can influence the types of results you see when conducting a search in their respective platforms.”
I’m not pulling back on my stance that creating, maintaining, or growing your social connections will impact your rankings; I am merely clarifying that people search in a variety of platforms and each will use their own data to rank you accordingly. That being said, it is now up to you to maintain each of these profiles across the board.
For those who depend on search engine rankings to create business and foster current relationships, this change confirms that there are 2 steps required to keep up with the curve.
Step 1: Create a Google+ account.
Google has come right out and said that this will be the future of search. If you fail to create a conduit for social media content on their preferred channel, those that embrace and use SPYW may only get half the story when searching for you and your product/service.
Step 2: Be Active with Google+ AND your other channels.
This latest algorithm change confirms that Google, and likely Bing/Yahoo, will look for social signals to ensure you are THE resource for your site’s targeted keywords. While a majority of search is conducted via Google/YouTube, millions of searches are done and are equally important on the most active social networks, Facebook & Twitter. If you choose not to produce a voice in these spaces, you are ignoring the most active user base out there who will continue to grow in size every day.