On Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, Google made its most radical and forward step into true Social Search with the launch of Search, plus Your World. Your World, as described in the official Google blog post, changes search results for individual users in three key ways:1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.
The changes show a continued and clear commitment to the Google+ social network as noted by Stephen Hall, Sr. Partner, Director, Global Search for Catalyst online, a GroupM company. “This is a move to help push adoption of G+ on brands. Growing your community/circles from a brand perspective, as well as increased sharing, should dramatically increase brand usage, given the vast potential increases in traffic from improved rankings. This gets interesting for many brands as it forces them into the ‘content creator’ category. So for those that are not historically creating content, there is going to need to be a shift in the way that they are marketing their products and services.”
While many expected Google to move in this direction, there was clear unrest in some corners of the worldwide web over this move to a definition of a consumers’ world that is from Google and by Google. Twitter’s general counsel Alex Macgilivray, tweeted, in part, “Bad day for the Internet” and later the company, which once had a relationship with Google, expanded to say “For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet. We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone,” Twitter continued. “We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.”
Google’s response put all responsibility for any wider reach from Google back on the rest of the companies dedicated to cultivating the social graph. As reported in AdWeek and Search Engine Land, Google Fellow Amit Singhal said, “Facebook and Twitter and other services, basically, their terms of service don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things. Google+ is the only [network] that provides such a persistent service. Singhal added that “if others were willing to change, we’d look at designing things to see how it would work.”
For now, Google will begin rolling out these new features to all users and brands are likely to have little choice but to further engage with Google+ and the continued content creation required to distinguish. Dan Cristo, Director of SEO Innovation for Catalyst, advised, “One major thing I would expect brands to look out for is increased completion in the organic space. Previously, your organic search competitors were primarily websites. This is changing to now include anyone in a searchers social graph. Not only will preferences of ‘friends’ emerge in results as an answer to a question before a brand, those friends will be prompted to respond in real-time in this new world. Brands want to be the ones answering consumers’ questions. In order to earn that right, brands need to attain the same intimacy level friends have in the social graph, and act more like a friend as opposed to a brand.”
Blog post courtesy of GroupM Search