Google+ Invades Google’s Search Results

Google has long been searching for a way to incorporate more social data into their search results.  In fact, aside from wanting to get in on the massive traffic Facebook has, one of Google’s main reasons for launching Google+ was to eventually be able to do what they have now done, incorporate the social data from Google+ into Google’s search results.  They call it Google’s Personal Search.

What are they doing?
Google is now using people’s connections via Google+ to influence the results people see in the search results.  You have to be logged into Google and have a Google+  account to see the change.  Any content that has been shared by you, the people in your circles, and the people Google suggests you might want to connect with (depending on how publicly the content was shared) will now show up more prominently in your search results if that content is relevant to your search.

For example, if you search for “Tim Tebow”  and one of your friends happened to share something about Tebow or maybe even just football, then the content they shared would show up near the top of your search results.

As you can see in the screenshot to the right, the article “John 3:16: Meaning of Tim Tebow’s Touted Bible Verse…” shows up in my results because my friend, Karl, shared that article with me in Google+.   This article may not show up in other people’s search results if their friends haven’t shared it with them.  It’s personalized just for me based on what my friends and I (and the people Google thinks I should connect with) have shared.

Here’s a short video about Google’s Personalized search results:

Why are they doing it?
Google says that they think the content you and your friends share is very relevant to you and thus this makes their search results more relevant, the biggest goal for online search.  And, hey, what can be more relevant to you than something you shared?  In addition to trying to provide more relevant search results, personally, I think there are two other driving forces at work here:

  1. Google is trying to get more people to signup for Google+ and use it regularly (take Facebook’s place).
  2. Google is trying to incorporate more personalized ad placement.  The more personal information Google can get and use for ad placement, the better their ads perform.  After all, in truth, Google really is an advertising company more than anything else.  Also, since Google includes posts from people they suggest, it’s possible that they will eventually offer a Google+ advertising solution where people could pay to be suggested to a certain profile of people in Google+ and thus have their content displayed to them…but that’s just a personal theory.

What does it mean to me?
This really is one of the biggest opportunities for businesses and organizations Google has ever given.  The whole point of SEO is to get your organization’s content (what you put on your website) as high up in people’s search results as possible so you get more traffic.  We optimize content and build links to push our search rankings higher and higher.  Now, Google has given us a short-cut, a way to push our search rankings higher much faster…at least for some people.  By connecting to people on Google+ and then sharing the optimized content of your website, your content can appear in search results for a keyword which had previously been too competitive for your website to rank well.  Sweet!

To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to create a Google+ account and then create a Google+ Business Page.  Once you have your page setup, start connecting with people.  For churches, you may want to start by connecting with your members and then people in your community.  Then share your content.  Remember, the search results include people in your circles.  So, you also want to encourage your members to re-share the content you share so your content can now be pushed up in the search results of all their friends.  For businesses and other organizations, the concept is similar.  Try to connect with as many of your customers/members as you can as well as with other people that fit your target audience and then share your content.

This is a great opportunity for churches, businesses and any organization to better connect with your existing members and reach new people.  By sharing and getting your members to share, you actually may get a double whammy.  People see your content when you initially share it and then see it again in their search results.

6 Responses to “Google+ Invades Google’s Search Results”

  1. If I'm reading this correctly, a person in your target market would have to have a Google+ account, and be signed in, and be connected with you in those circles, and you'd have to continuously sharing content with your service keywords, in order for it to make any difference if they did a Google search for your service. Is this right or am I missing something?

    And I am TOTALLY confused about something that may or may not be related, but seems like it might be. Two days ago my Google Places page came up like normal. I put in the search term "transcription in Glen Allen" and had the normal "Place Page" to click on under my listing. Today I see that it says "Google+ Page" instead of "Place Page," and it pulls up a very different looking page. If I type in my old Google Place Page URL with the really long cid number at the end, I get the old place page. Do you know what's going on with that? And when I go in to edit my page on the "new" Google+1 listing and then sign in, it takes me to the old stuff.

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