Here Comes Google+: The Advent of Social Engine Optimisation?
The inevitable has happened. Google has begun to integrate Google+ into its existing products and services. Google Reader has received a major redesign to bring it in line stylistically and operationally with Google+. While it is the aesthetic changes that have drawn the most attention (and ire), there are also some interesting new features. Most notably, there is now the option to share posts directly via Google+ (along with other social media and email) at the click of a button.
It seems more than likely that this is just the first step in what will be an inevitable integration of Google+ as a layer within all Google products. Google have already announced their intention to establish business pages on Google+ (somewhere they are currently lagging behind market leader Facebook) and it seems probable that this will take the form of integrating the service with their new social media network. Eventually, even the mighty Gmail could see itself become a part of the service.
Many commentators have already noted that, in acting as a portal to other Google services and a way of interacting with external pages (ala Twitter and Facebook), Google+ is becoming an extension of the existing Google accounts service. They’re a shrewd lot at Google and launching a social media website to take on the mighty Facebook will have been a carefully calculated risk. The social media scene is becoming increasingly closed, with even the might of News Corporation being unable to halt the decline of one-time market leader Myspace. What Google has clearly realised is that, through its extension of the Google account model, it has a key advantage which even Myspace’s millions couldn’t match; ubiquity. You want to get the most out of Google Maps? You’ll need a Google+ account for that, sir: don’t worry, it’s quick and simple. Using Google Reader? Just sign in with your Google+ account. Want a burger? Would you like Google with that, sir?
And let’s not act like this is a bad thing. Though it might give Mark Zuckerberg cause to look up from his Mac for a moment or two, for the consumer and advertiser it’s a boon. The growing influence of social media on search engine results has been as inevitable as it has been rapid – and, quite frankly, any SEO professional who didn’t realise what Google’s launch of a social media site meant wasn’t paying attention. Search engines and social media have a shared goal of delivering relevant content to their users. When you type “SEO services” into Google, your previous search history is how it knows which sites to prioritise. The interests and posts you make on Facebook are how the site knows which adverts to put in your sidebar. The rise of Google+ means that these two methods will soon be integrated and your social media activity will lead to ever more personalised search results.
If Google Panda was the overture, Google+ is the band striking up with the tune online advertisers need to be dancing to. Where once search engine optimisation was a simple matter of stuffing your pages with meta-tags, and then was all about keyword densities, its future lies in brand development. Those companies who will do well out of online marketing are those who can offer a developed online identity with which consumers can interact. Modern consumers – and, in particular, young consumers – want to feel a connection with those brands they choose beyond the simple supplier-consumer binary. If people are engaging with your brand – Liking it, +1-ing it, reTweeting it – then that is going to begin meaning much more than how many times you can fit “woolly jumpers in Chepstow” into your page content. Not that it isn’t important to say you sell woolly jumpers in Chepstow. People in Chepstow need woolly jumpers. It’s a more nuanced approach that values quality of product and brand above canniness of keyword stuffing.
Google+ is drawing in a new era of Search Engine Optimisation: one where the intelligence, quality and individuality of the SEO service you are being offered is the most important factor in your brand’s continued success. If you need some no-obligation advice on how to optimise your website in this new context, then please do contact us using our online form.