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The Effect of Google Search Plus Your World on the Social Media World

Earlier in the year Google made a significant change to the way that it produces results for its users by introducing personal details into the equation in the guise of Google Search Plus Your World1. They began introducing a social element into their search service late in 2009 and with the introduction of their Google+ social platform they have now integrated that social search functionality into personal search results for users that are logged into their Google+ account. While this has sent a wave of shock through the SEO world because it includes results in the SERPs that can’t be controlled by optimization practices, it has also caused a stir among the social network sites that see this as a blatant push to make Google+ a more important platform for users to be engaged with. Google has replied to criticisms by saying that they are continuing to create a better search experience for their users that will return results that are more relevant to the individual.

Twitter was quite vocal in denouncing the move by Google, implying that it would skew the search results for world events and breaking news for which Twitter is often the source; they sometimes pick up such news even before the traditional news and wire services. Because Google is pulling results to suit the user’s personal preferences and online connections, Twitter thinks that its own results will be less likely to turn up in the SERPs, meaning they will get less traffic, and kudos, as a result. Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel, even went so far as to call it a “bad day for the internet”2. Google was quick to respond that it isn’t excluding any sites from its results and Amit Singhal, who oversees Google’s ranking algorithms, said that their search engine has never had deep access to either Facebook or Twitter anyway3. This means that there won’t really be any change to the amount of results that are returned from these sites regardless of how personal Google searching has become.

The real change that Google Search Plus Your World makes to the social media landscape is that it creates a strong reason for businesses to be more engaged with Google+ generally. Businesses that haven’t created a Google+ business page or claimed their Google+ Local listing are in danger of falling off of the radar of many users whose results will be skewed towards returning results with a social influence coming almost entirely from Google+. Businesses that are heavily invested in Facebook and Twitter may see their content list much lower than pages that are more integrated in Google’s ever widening network. To counter Google’s foray into social media their competitors at Bing announced that they were integrating Facebook data into their own SERPs as well4.

It is possible for users to turn personal results off in Google’s search page but the default setting is for it to be on, so most people will search using their personal preferences as a silent search parameter. The importance of building an online presence specific to Google’s part of cyberspace makes increasing corporate engagement with Google almost inevitable as businesses use the changes to leverage the marketing opportunity that the mash of social and search is creating. The relatively low membership of Google+ and the small percentage of businesses that have taken advantage of their Google+ Local listing means that right now, there is an opportunity for many companies to get the edge on their competition. To find out all about these latest changes to Google contact and be among the first to include a social/search strategy into your company’s Internet marketing practices.





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