"Search Plus your World" with Google + Part 1

I thought it would be interesting to look at Google’s “Search Plus Your World” and Google + from a ranking and business perspective.  However topical these subjects may be, whole essays can be written on these subject,  spanning over many pages. Therefore,  I have chosen to split the subjects into 2 blog posts with this one focusing on “Search Plus Your World”, Google + and how this impacts on Google searches. Watch out for my next blog on the business implactions.

Google’s ‘Search Plus Your World’ is basically all about incorporating Google’s social network, Google +, into its search engine rankings.  It is Google’s attempt to tease us away from other popular social networks such as Facebook.  At the moment, there are 60 million Google + users and Google anticipates that it will have over 100million users by the end of this year.  Although this seems like a large number of users, Google + is still relatively small when you compare something like Facebook with over 900 million active users. However the potential of Google + is huge based on the number of active Google search users and the billions of searches conducted each day using this search engine.

I recently signed up for Google + and was amazed at how my search landscape and results changed because of the inclusion of personal results provided by Google – purely because I had a Google + account.

Google now makes my search results more personal by including information shared to me though my Google + account circles. This means personal results now rank alongside standard returns based on the searches I conduct.  Personal results can be identified by the blue person icon  appearing at the start of a listing; non personal results do not have this.  Additionally, personal results are also provided in a clickable link format as below.

Google + Personal Results Image

Google Plus & Search Plus Your World Example

Personal results can be toggled on and off by clicking on the icons that appear in the top left of Google. So, you can choose whether or not to have personal results included in your results.

Google + - How to turn off Personal search

What is interesting about personal results is that they appear based on your search query and searching behaviour when using Google.  For this example, I searched for the phrase ‘successful ecommerce websites’.  When I clicked on the 10 personal results link, I got the following information:

Google + - Personal Search Results Example

Some of the results above are from people I follow in my Google + circles. Google is recommending that I consider my friends’ thoughts, recommendations and opinions based on my search query. This is pretty cool I suppose as we are more likely to do, go with or try something based on advice or guidance from someone we actually know or respect.  As a user, I find this okay, if not a little scary, that Google has personalised the results so much for me. Google is providing me with the information it thinks I will find most useful purely based on my behaviour and on what people in my circles  think is worth knowing.

Google is making it easier to search and find both privately shared content from friends, family and associates,  plus relevant information from the web by doing just one search. So all in all, Google Search Plus Your World and Google + is a pretty good at giving me personalised and non personalised results based on my searches which is fine, so thanks Google.

However, is it fine?  Personal results are okay and I do find them useful and I can always turn them off and get results for only organic results based on my searches, right?  Well, possibly not as we will find out in part 2 of this post.

If personal results are showing up in Google rankings it begs the questions as to how are they getting there so quickly and what is happening to the results they are replacing?  Is Google replacing organic results that I may find more useful with recommendations from my Google + circles and is Google then giving ranking weight to Google + accounts so that they appear first in my results?  If so, this has SEO and online marketing implications for all of us.   Additionally, are personal results only showing when I want them to or are they appearing when I am actually logged out of Google?  Of course not, it meant to be personalised search?  Right?

All interesting questions which I will analyse a little further  in part 2 of this post.  If Google is giving Google + a helping hand in the rankings then I think this has obvious implications for all of us, especially businesses and how we appear in Google’s search engine results pages from now on.

The reality is that Google Personal Search and Google + is here and I think we should be all taking a closer look at how it might impact on our SEO activities and online strategy together with (if any) the implications for business.  Early indications are that Google is really pushing this so I think it is about time that we did the same.  Part 2 to follow.

For more information on Google ‘Search Plus Your World’ click here – http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/plus/index.html

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