Google has started to integrate Google+ into its search results. This is a major change to how Google’s search results are assembled and something brands and businesses with an online presence can’t afford to ignore.
This move hasn’t come a minute too soon: research from Greenlight shows that were Facebook to launch its own search engine tomorrow, it could potentially capture 22 per cent of the global search market.
This is perhaps the biggest change to Google in the last five years and, as such, must not be overlooked by online players.
It’s a huge opportunity for you to increase your rankings in the search engine results pages and also extend your search presence into the realms of customer relationship management (CRM), public relations (PR) and more.
So, what will actually be changing?
It is important to stress the fundamentals are not changing; they’re just being supplemented by social elements. Natural search results will remain and will be determined in the same way as they are now (relevant content + links + engagement signals). Paid Search ads will still operate within the same model. That said, the changes are significant and breathe life into something we could call “Social Search”, something we’ve been expecting for a while.
The key changes in a nutshell:
Google+ content to be integrated into the search engine results pages
For businesses with a Google+ Brand page, any content posted will appear within the organic search results of the user that has your company in their circles, assuming it’s deemed relevant to the users’ search.
This can be beneficial (Google+ content produced by your business gets wide exposure) or a threat (a negative review of your company posted by someone with an extensive Circle membership will get increased exposure). The opportunity here is that great viral content created by your business could then be shared by lots of people and therefore appear in the results for lots of people.
Relevant Google+ Brand pages to be showcased in the search engine results pages
Google will be suggesting relevant Google+ profiles to follow in the search results when searches are made. For instance, if you searched for “music”, Google would display options for you to add the Brand pages of “Britney Spears”, “Snoop Dog”, etc. to your circles. If you then did that, their content would appear regularly in your search results.
This could be beneficial as this promotion of Google+ Brand pages to the populace will grow the number of people who add the respective brand to their Circles, giving brands a captive audience to market to and consolidate their presence in their future search results.
There are a number of threats here too though – if brands do not have a Google+ page right now, they potentially leave themselves open to their branded search results being hijacked by people pretending to be their brand. In addition, the respective brand will not be amassing people who have added it to their Circles, whilst the brand’s competitors might be. This will obviously result in reduced visibility and mindshare over time.
How should businesses react? Read my piece on what you need to do immediately.
Andreas Pouros is chief operating officer at search engine marketing agency Greenlight.
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