In part one, we had a brief look at Google’s “Search Plus Your World”, Google + and personalised search. In part two, we will gauge whether Google + is being favoured in the search engine results pages and if so, what are the implications for SEO and business.
Initial findings do appear to support the claim that Google is giving Google + accounts a helping hand in search engine results pages. To put it simply, if you don’t have a Google + account for your business, I would recommend you get one and start using it now.
As we know, it takes time for listings to appear in the organic results of Google – sometimes taking six months or longer for listings to appear. Google + listings have started to appear overnight. Granted, much of these are in personalised search but some are not, which I will cover later. From an SEO and business perspective this could become problematic if Google + results start to replace natural and organic results.
As we discussed in the previous post, we can turn on personal results and show both personal and natural results. At the same time, we can turn off personal search and show only organic returned results.
Below is an example search I conducted using the word ‘cars’ with personal search turned on.
As expected, I got my personal recommendations on the left from an associate in one of my Google + circles, but I was also surprised to see what was returned at the top right of the page where Google AdWords adverts are usually located. Google returned the official Google + pages of Ferrari and Lamborghini and placed them in a prime location on the page to ensure that I did not miss them. They pushed down AdWords adverts as a result, which is surprising bearing in mind that Google makes money from paid search.
Based on the fact that I had opted in to have personalised search results retuned in my account settings, you can understand the personal return I got from one of my circles, but not the return in the top left for Ferrari and Lamborghini. Why did Google give these Google + pages such prominent positions in the search results pages? If you look at Ferrari, they are in over 700,000 Google + circles which is a huge amount. Have they been placed in this position because of this and if so, is Google now giving preference because so many Google + accounts are linked to these companies? Is Google simply give them a helping hand because they are using Google +?
Next, I conducted the same search that excluded personal search and below is the return that Google served up for me. As expected, no personal results appeared down the left hand side but much to my surprise, Google returned Google + results in the top right location above AdWords results. This time, it was BMW and Lamborghini that appeared and if you click on the BMW link, it takes you directly to their Google + page.
This is really interesting because I should only be getting results that are not personalised to me. Google has decided to return the BMW Google + page to me based on my searching behaviour, which in turn seems to highlight that Google is pushing Google + at us and returning relevant Google + pages in top positions . How did the BMW page get there and how did it get there so quickly? Is BMW paying to be there? No. Therefore, the only logical explanation that I can think of is that Google is giving Google + pages a helping hand to appear in these top positions, encouraging businesses to sign up and encouraging web browsers to access Google + to find information.
Powerful stuff if you are a top brand like BMW when considering the impact from a business perspective. The BMW page is a great example of why having a Google + account does now seem hugely important. Even if I don’t request that personalised results are listed, I am still getting Google + pages coming up in prime spots in the results pages.
Therefore, is it safe for us to assume that Google is helping Google + accounts rank well and by not having an account are we potentially excluding ourselves from appearing in search results? The quick answer is yes. I am sure that BMW is delighted to be appearing in this position on Google without having to pay for it. There is no cost to BMW, other than time to set up and manage their Google + account. It’s a no brainer really.
As I have said previously, I think we need to start looking at Google + a lot more and I would actively encourage all of you, especially Digital Six clients, to start engaging in Google + just to see where this might take you from a Google ranking perspective. Personally, I think that Google might start to use Google + as recommendations for ‘quality’ links; the more people that value your Google + page and have you in their circles the more highly ranked you might become. Just a thought.
It is also very noticeable that there is no mention of any other social networks such as Facebook appearing in the car search results.
I think the upshot of this is to certainly consider Google + for your business; I do think that Google is heavily promoting Google + in the results pages so it makes sense for us as businesses to get on board to include it as part of online marketing and our social media approaches.
Digital Six is on Google + and the link to our page can be found here if you feel like linking up with us- https://plus.google.com/102768720998113640366/posts. My thanks to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine World for the great car example.
For more information on Google plus, please check out – http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/plus/index.html and http://www.seomoz.org/blog/why-every-marketer-now-needs-a-google-strategy
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