Search Plus Your World: Google Merges Search and Social

January 11, 2012

Since Google+ launched in the summer of 2011, there has been a lot of talk about what it might look like and how Google might merge search and social activity.

Now, we’re starting to get an idea…

Tuesday, Google launched 3 new social features to its search results, called “Search plus Your World.” The new features personalize Google’s search results in a way we’ve never seen before. As we’ll explain a little more in a bit, this news confirms what we at NP have been speculating for a while: Google+ is going to become a marketing necessity for every business out there, while most people won’t use it all that much for their own social networking. Why? Because your company is going to need to use Google+ to get found by customers searching for you, while Facebook and Twitter impact personal daily lives in a way that Google+ probably never will.

So, here’s a breakdown of the 3 new features of Google Search plus Your World.

Personalized Search Results

The personal results let you find information only pertaining to you. You can see photos and updates from people in your Google+ circles or anyone who has shared your content on Google+.

Search Results Now Show Google+ Profiles

In the regular search results, you can now see Google+ profiles of people you know or might be interested in adding to your circles (someone who +1’ed your content, activity, friends of friends, etc.). You can also see profiles and Google+ business pages on the right-hand side of the results when you search something. This is NOT going to replace real estate previously reserved for paid ads (don’t be crazy. Google is THAT benevolent!), but it is supposed to give you a more holistic, personalized search experience. The paid ads will still be there.

If you’re signed into Google+, you can add people and brands to your circles directly within the search results.

You Don’t Have to See Personalized Search if You Don’t Want To

If you don’t want personalized search, Google lets you see only ‘traditional’ search results. You can change this back and forth, just like changing search results from different locations.

Marketing Takeaway
As we said, Google+ is going to be big for business but not so hot for people. You need to think of Google+ as an extension of your SEO campaign. If a potential customer uses Google to find your products/services, they are going to be more likely to find the company that has an optimized Google+ profile (as well as a Google Places place! Don’t forget about your local market!) and has a steady flow of Google+ content. If your company is using Google+, you will be found before your competitor who isn’t. Google is making this very clear.

However, Google+ might not work for brand engagement as well as Facebook and Twitter, mainly because your customers spend more recreational time on Facebook and Twitter. Your customers use Google+ to find things–that’s why SEO is so valuable, because you’re generating qualified, inbound leads.

If you use Google+, you’re going to get better rankings on Google and create more leads. This isn’t going to happen overnight. But 1 year from now we should see Google+ making a real impact.

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