bloomfield knoble has been watching Google+ with a skeptical eye since its launch last summer. As we stated at the time, where do people have room in their lives for another social network? We still stand behind that statement. It’s not like Facebook is doing anything wrong. They’re not driving away the masses, making them clamor for another outlet on which to post their Farmville needs. In fact, Facebook just launched their most popular overhaul yet, the Timeline. So gaining a foothold has been hard for Google+.
But as we also stated at the time of launch, what Google+ has going for it… is Google. Besides Facebook, what website has a hold on us and integrates so completely (and almost invisibly) into our lives? We search with it, we email with it and we watch videos with it. And most people probably don’t stop too often to think about the fact that it’s all the same company. If Google+ is to succeed, it has to integrate with Google, and that integration will lift it up. It doesn’t have enough uniqueness otherwise to set it apart.
However, if every time you go to watch a YouTube video, you’re faced with a +1 button or a link back to which friends in your Circles have watched the same or similar videos, you’re going to be reminded about Google+. Just like when you drive by a restaurant repeatedly – even if it’s not the best restaurant. As long as the food is adequately prepared, you’re more likely to stop at that restaurant than the place you had the meal-of-your-life three months ago that’s 10 miles out of the way.
As of today, the Google+ restaurant has moved onto your main thoroughfare (well, it’s on many people’s main thoroughfare today, with the remainder of English-speaking Googlers getting it within the next couple of days).
That restaurant is the unfortunately-named and poorly-capitalized “Google Search, plus Your World.”
Now, every time you search on Google, not only will you get the millions of results that are webpages, articles, photos and videos from every conceivable corner of the Internet, most likely posted by people you’ve never met, but you will also get results from your Google+ social graph.
That means you’ll see, in your search results, pictures that you have posted to your Google+ account whose names relate to your search, related pictures posted by people in your Circles, posts you’ve made to your account that mention the search terms, posts made by people in your Circles, and suggestions as to other people whom you might want to follow.
This means everyone’s search results, from this point forward, will be different from those of anyone else and will be tailored to each individual’s previous experiences online.
What this also means is, Google+ users will suddenly experience what web designers and copywriters for websites have experienced for years – the need and desire to integrate SEO strategies into their profiles.
If you want your company website to appear higher in the organic results for any of the search engines, it is important to understand (as best anyone can) the algorithms used to determine placement. Most simply, from an on-screen content standpoint, that involves appropriate names for photos and keywords woven strategically into the copy. There’s also a whole bunch of backend meta-tag massaging, linking and other, more technical, activity that affects the search results, but because you can’t update the meta-tags on your Google+ profile, on-screen is what matters here.
From now on, when you post a status update, you might think to yourself, what search terms would I want people to search for and have my post appear in their search results? You’d probably think twice about some of your current photo captions; and you’ll want to update your photo file names so that each one is searchable by Google, not just a random series of letters and numbers like IMG_0008_1138.
Once this all sinks in, users won’t just be posting with the hope that those words may be seen if their followers happen upon their stream during the time period after it’s posted but before it gets pushed aside by the dozens of other posts that pop up. Users will know that others who are searching for those keywords will see their profile pop up as a source on that topic.
In case you’re wondering, search results will be clearly labeled, so those that come from the social graph will be obvious, compared to those from the more authoritative results from around the web.
Importantly, Google will also suggest other people you might want to follow based on your search. That means that other people will also find you based on the content you’re posting and decide whether or not to add you to one of their Circles. It’ll make you think twice about that long running joke thread about your favorite way to consume Captain Morgan’s and what happens after you do.
Besides causing us to filter our content – consciously or not – Google Search, plus Your World will be a powerful tool for those smart enough to harness it. If you want to promote yourself as an expert on bird watching in order to promote your new book on the subject, you can massage and tweak the content you post to Google+ to increase the chances that you’ll appear in the search results on that topic. It will definitely keep you top-of-mind among those who already have you in Circles; and it will also increase the likelihood that other Google+ users will discover your page and begin enjoying all the insights you have to offer on the Red Faced Warbler.
With Google+’s recent growth spurt over the holidays (most likely due to unprecedented advertising), coupled with this unique Google search integration, it is far too early to count Google+ down for the count. In fact, if you are a company or organization and you haven’t yet acquired your Google+ Brand Page, it’s definitely time to do so. It looks like Google+ will be around for quite some time.
At bloomfield knoble, we help our clients establish a valuable online presence that focuses on their overall strategy, branding and messaging. We integrate websites, social media and traditional media in the way that generates the best results. But we only initiate a specific strategy after doing our due diligence via market research and getting to know our clients’ needs inside and out. While we recommend staking out your Google+ real estate now, but unless its unique tools (anybody want to start a Hangout?) are a perfect fit for your business, it’s probably a prudent move to wait and see.
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We build strategies and everything that goes with them. Some of the largest organizations in the world, including many in the mortgage and finance industries, trust us with the most important aspects of their business. From defining clients’ brands and identities to developing ongoing campaigns in a variety of media, we provide the communications and measurement tools to move them forward. Applying our experience and dedication to the media and the message, bloomfield knoble handles every detail of our clients’ strategic marketing initiatives.
Eric J. Hirschhorn is a principal at bloomfield knoble. For 17 years he has helped lead the Dallas-based advertising agency from start up to becoming a premier, full-service agency whose clients include some of the most influential companies in America. Eric lives to spend time with his family, to work and to travel the world in search of unique fishing adventures.