Google made an interesting update on their Google+ page this week, listing 50 things that a +1 can mean. Google are really pushing more people to think about +1 rather than other social signals, and if it can mean anything, they are casting a wide net. In this post I will look into Google Search plus Your World results, +1s, reactions and even how to optimise Google+ profiles.
The Value of a +1
A +1 does not have the exact same value as other social indicators, and they should not really be treated as the same: One thing that interests me is finding out if +1 on a page is persistent. It is not clear if a more recent +1 makes more of a difference than one made a year ago, but it could be that a +1 by a prominent G+ user has value for the long-term traffic, especially if people would be searching for similar content. An example being that if I am searching for certain SEO content, +1′d content by prominent industry SEOs will have an advantage on position, as well as being respected. I have found that I have pressed that +1 button a lot recently and will use it more readily than tweeting something or clicking a Facebook like button, which I may only use in certain circumstances. I may tweet more recent industry articles or a few choice articles I have read, but I will +1 a larger selection, almost using it as a bookmark.
Usually, when a new piece of content is shared with a tweet, traffic will spike. A +1 will unlikely have the same instant impact as a tweet, probably much more likely to have an effect if shared on G+ and amplified by prominent users. It is unclear if older tweets will be seen as relevant as a share in Google Search plus Your World, and even if this will be supported. This is where G+ could have an advantage, especially if Google does not rate twitter or facebook shares as highly as a +1.
Does Search plus Your World Favour Google+?
Talking about social shares having an impact on search results leads us onto the brilliant focusontheuser bookmarklet, ‘don’t be evil’ . This bookmarklet raises a valid point, explained by way of using Jamie Oliver’s social profiles as an example. It is argued that, Jamie Oliver’s twitter profile should be rated as much more relevant than his G+ profile, due to more recent activity and the large amount of followers compared to his G+ profile.
This bookmarklet takes information that Google already has, and bases the order of these social networks on the profile that ranks highest in a normal Google search. Clever stuff. We have seen many instances where Google uses its power to leverage its own products before others, so this is nothing new, but may be a step too far for many.
Some Users don’t Want to Socialise Their Search Results
A lot of fuss has been made by people in the industry about these Google Search plus Your World results that are displayed, and rightly so. Many want a pure Google Search experience, and some even explain how Google+ could threaten Google’s core search business, stating that the amount of clutter can disorientate and confuse. Personally, I think many casual users that currently use Facebook will love the features of the new social indicators in Google Search, but only if all their friends are using it too. This might be a stumbling block for Google, as it may take a while for Search plus your World to be heard of, let alone understood by many. We might see a very large advertising campaign on TV and offline promoting the new Google features, in the same vein as Google Chrome. One feature that I think needs to be added, that could solve some of these issues, is setting your default search. Currently the default is ‘Search plus Your World’ but many will want to just use normal search in most cases, and have this set as the default. Making the search you want to use one click away goes against what Google aim to provide – to help people find information they need faster.
Recent Google+ Enhancements
Google are putting their full weight behind Google+ this year, and there are many small tweaks coming thick and fast; here are several which have happened in the last week or so:
- Page Management Features (Multiple owners etc)
- Safety Enhancements
- G+ now open for Teens to use - Key for Google to get these users on-board.
- New badges for businesses – Encouraging businesses to build pages.
What about optimising my G+ profile?
As for SEO and optimising business Google+ profiles, This post on blind five year old one of the most comprehensively researched I have come across, and lists some excellent findings on how the Google+ Search algorithm seems to index content. One thing is for sure, that this year search will evolve and soon, all your searches could belong to plus.
What does a +1 Mean to You?
• A +1 can mean I Found you! *groan*
• A +1 can mean SKYPUNCH!
• A +1 can mean AWESOME JUICE!
• A +1 can mean Boom-Ting!
• A +1 can mean, that is the BUSINESS!
• A +1 can mean ‘I sure do like those Christmas Cookies’
• A +1 can mean ‘Yay, payday pizza!’
• A +1 can mean I adore Found’s new website!
• A +1 can mean ‘beer o clock!’
• A +1 can mean ‘that is very interesting, I wish to subscribe to your newsletter’
I would love to know what a +1 could mean to you – Let me know in the comments!