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Google announced yesterday that it will begin to integrate and give more prominence to content from Google Plus in its search results pages. 

This change, which will affect logged in users, of which there are many, raise some interesting questions, and has several potential implications for SEO. 

It will also worry rival social networks. For example, Twitter's Alex McGillivary called it 'a bad day for the internet' in a tweet yesterday: 

I've been asking search experts for their opinions on the possible consequences of this new move from Google. 

What are your views on Search, plus Your World? 

Kevin Gibbons, Founder, SEOptimise:

Looking past the obvious reasons of promoting Google+ and their rivalries with Facebook and Twitter, I think this update is more about Google improving the relevancy of results via a more personalised search experience.

There was an interesting study by Nielsen a couple of yeas ago, and this stated that 42% of people trust search engine results, while a huge 90% trust recommendations from people they know.

In my opinion that is the biggest threat social media/search brings to Google, the ability to provide personal recommendations. So it's clear that this is something they have to get better at if they want to retain such a dominant market share in the long-term.

Rishi Lakhani, Search Strategist:

I think it’s a desperate attempt to make a rather poor product become mainstream. Google has the largest universal audience base, but not the largest social network.

So what they are doing is to try and compete with the powerhouses that are Twitter and Facebook, by using the one super strong property they have, search.

If they can’t succeed at making a new social network, they will simply convert their current powerhouse into one.

Welcome to MySpace+Yahoo 3.0.

Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director at Bigmouthmedia:

I’m excited by Search plus Your World. The video teaser was tantalising in that it sketched a picture but we’re yet to see exactly how Search+ will work. This is such a potentially big change to Google that it is frustrating that we cannot yet examine every atomic detail.

Search plus Your World looks like a Google I would like to use. I really hope it works well with real time. Friends are best for news curation and breaking news needs real time.

Search+ also adds extra depth to Universal Search. It’s all well and good search returning pictures of products but better to have pictures of products and holiday scenes with a social context.

Will Critchlow, Founder, Distilled:

While it's obvious that Google is on the search for a world "after links" and it's no surprise that +1s should be their chosen saviour, I'm a little concerned about a future where a major ranking signal is proprietary to Google.

At a tactical level, I sincerely hope that the G+ API gets *really good*. At a strategic level, I think it's just one more step towards an integration of all forms of online marketing. It's going to be ever less about impressing robots and ever more about impressing humans.

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility:

This isn't an unanticipated step by most of the search community but that doesn't mean it's not significant, it puts another nail in the coffin of ranking reports and continues the shift to SEO being measured on business metrics.

As we've seen from the switch to https it's only the minority who search signed into a Google account; albeit a pretty significant minority. It's this same    Group who are going to see this new level of personalisation. So unless there's a sudden uplift in sign ups for Google accounts this won't affect most people.

Alex Moss, Partner at Pleer

Meh. This is yet another attempt to ensure that Google+'s skewed data will stay skewed. Claims such as 20m users joining within three weeks of its launch seem a bit odd considering that nobody outside of my professional connections have even heard of Google+, let alone realise they have an account.

Until a technophobe (usually your own mother) asks you "What is this Google+ nonsense" I wouldn't consider it a success.

My World is Google's attempt to create a funnel leading to somewhere you may not have found relevant in the first place, defeating the object of the search's intentions.

Social networking is about finding and developing new experiences within a portal. Google search is supposed to cater for the opposite i.e.finding information you're looking for and delivering it fast!

Teddie Cowell, SEO Director, Guava:

I don't think Google is using this as purely a platform for Google+ despite what it currently looks like. From the recent comments by Eric Schmidt we can see that Google is keen to reach out to Facebook and Twitter.

It's hard to see how Google can move forward with closer social integration in the short term when platforms like Facebook and Twitter are essentially walled garden blocking them (Facebook with the Bing deal and Twitter pulling out of the real time search agreement).

What are the possible implications for SEO and online marketing? 

Rishi Lakhani:

Some of the arguments in favour of social activity around Google plus is that they try and use those signals to create a better index, taking away from the nightmare that are links as ranking signals.

So will this new feature impact SEO? Absolutely. Now everyone will have more personalised results (than before!). How do you score through a moving goalpost? 

Will it affect online marketing? Not really. Instead of SEO, we may end up relying more on power users to influence signals. So the likes of celebrities could influence a large portion of their followers online.

I am not sure I like that scenario. Either way as is the job of the online marketer, if an exploit or advantage exists, it will be used and abused.

Jimmy McCann, SEO Manager, Search Laboratory:

I think it’s a good move, as it makes the user experience a bit better, and for SEO I don’t think it will harm organic CTRs on commercial terms. I think it will only affect about 20% (max) of search queries. 

It’s just another reason why social should be incorporated as part of an SEO campaign. It’s even more important for companies to produce socially engaging content in order to maximise visibility in these personalised SERPs. There will be big opportunities for social in 2012 as companies are forced to use Google+

The one big bonus of this is that you can completely depersonalise results with one click. It's always a pain telling clients to clean browsers and log out. 

Andrew Girdwood:

In some ways this is big news for SEO. However, if you look back at the SEO predictions for 2012 that Econsultancy put together we can see two main themes; the importance of content and the increased role of social and Google+. Google’s Search+ is the natural evolution of this. 

Those SEOs who have done more than just predict this, but who have managed to re-work old SEO styles into the multi-signal approach that new SEO requires will welcome Search plus Your World. To those SEOs this is justification.

Econsultancy recently published stats on which percentage of agencies and clients thought social signals were significant in search. These agencies and clients in the significant side should be well placed to do well with the new socially strong Google.

Of course, there are plenty of SEO strategies that do not yet incorporate the range of activities required to succeed in Search plus Your World. Until these SEO strategies can adapt and those agencies work out how to implement them then they may struggle. 

Teddie Cowell:

Now you need two Google SEO strategies, one for "No personal results" (legacy) and "Search plus Your World" (future). 

A robust social strategy is important for all companies moving forwards and ensuring Google+ is adopted into that strategy.

Typing in [music] may bring up box of "prominent people" talking about that subject on G+. Who is prominent online in your industry, i.e. [car insurance]?  I Don’t see Google being able to promote just G+ for long, Facebook and Twitter should be integrated at least as well.

Kelvin Newman:

Despite not influencing everyone's results suddenly building the number of people who have your business in a Google Plus circle seems a far more legitimate SEO tactic than it did 48 hours ago.

Graham Charlton

Published 11 January, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (16)

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Andy Nattan

"I think it’s a desperate attempt to make a rather poor product become mainstream"

Correct. It's not about giving users better results, it's about trying to make Google+ profitable.

almost 5 years ago



Kelvin Newman is the creative director at SiteVisibility, not SearchVisibility. Any chance this could be corrected?

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Alan, fixed now. All these agency names got scrambled up in my head:)

almost 5 years ago

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

I agree with comments from Kelvin and Alex. Surly this is only going to be truly big news if Google can actually get people to use Google +.

I think I must know about 3 people outside of the industry who know what Google + is and are using it.

almost 5 years ago

David Petherick

David Petherick, Head of Digital Marketing at First Vehicle Leasing

Like most things Google does, this will evolve, and it's probable that to avoid anti-trust problems, such results will include other social media such as Twitter and Facebook. However, bear in mind Facebook has been resistant to such moves in the past, as it makes money from its own social graph connections, and Twitter failed to renew its agreement with Google to share its 'realtime search' results last year. These companies are all in a game.

I think this is a move towards more semantic, or meaningful search, and social recommendations and context around any search will be valuable indicators. Google knows it is late to that party on a social graph, and although this change may appear 'desperate', Google have a quite different revenue model to facebook or twitter.

One should remember that quality, unbiased search results are what Google makes millions from every day, but at the same time, there's the simple fact that you must pay Google to skew search in your direction with Adwords. You have to pay Google to compete against Google's results, which is a rather extraordinary contradiction, but it is the accepted status quo. It's much the same story to advertise on Yahoo or Bing.

This search game has high stakes, and it is a game that is always open to innovation and disruption, and I think that this change will be intriguing in its execution, evolution and the impact on traditional SEO/SEM. What is clear is that this a) makes Google+ more important, b) a subject for mainstream attention right now, and c) obviously puts the cat amongst the pigeons at Facebook and Twitter, so I think Google will be well pleased with the results so far.

In the UK, we haven't actually seen what this will look like on our screens yet, so I think we might be wise to defer speculation. But then again, it's far more interesting to speculate!

almost 5 years ago

Tim Aldiss

Tim Aldiss, Consultant/Director at ThinkSearch

I've posted what I think over on the No Pork Pies blog, but in summary I love it! If/when I start using Google+ seriously (and apps are developed to help me do this) it will hopefully become my personal management tool as the additional 'recommended' results are overlayed.

almost 5 years ago

Adam Tudor

Adam Tudor, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at The Black Hole

A desperate way to shoehorn another failing Google product into the mainstream market? Or a search revolution that will change the way we find and share information?

I'm not decided yet, though I do know from testing it out today that it makes my search results page far more cluttered!

almost 5 years ago


Dina James

Anti-trust problems will not present themselves with this because other big players like Facebook aren't going to give away their data and besides, Google doesn't have a monopoly, just a market-leading search share. What people aren't mentioning with Facebook's IPO coming up is Facebook's ultimate entry into the search market. Besides the resources they have at their disposal and the talent they have, they have more social data than anybody else and they will not give up their biggest asset to Google. Google+ is generating a lot of media hype, but people go where their friends are and businesses go where their customers are. It's gotten to the point that there are dozens and dozens of companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do nothing other than promote Facebook pages for businesses because all of them want to take advantage of Facebook and this is where all of the business attention is going. Expect this news of Facebook's entry into the search market to come out at a strategic time to take advantage of Facebook's upcoming IPO. Facebook has essentially saturated the social networking market, but can continue to expand by moving over to the search, ecommerce, location, and other markets and that's what I think they're going to be doing very soon.

almost 5 years ago



Google, if you're listening, when I search, I want to find something new. Get it? I don't want to see stuff I already know about or stuff my friends or anyone else likes. Personalisation doesn't work with search. In fact, it's anti-search.

Google has lost the plot, in favour of the almighty dollar. Sadly, this is the just the latest phase of their masterplan to get rid of organic results.

almost 5 years ago


Sam Silverwood-Cope, Director at Intelligent Positioning

Google+ is like the CEO's kid who has been invited into board meetings. The rest of us can't do anything about it, apart from perhaps try and join in.

I think it reeks of desperation. We all began to love Google ten years ago because it gave us what we felt were fair and relevant results and "In Google We Trust" was born. This gate-crashing from Google+ is going a long way to tainting that trust and delivering skewed results. Perhaps skewed forever.

This aspect of personalised search plus keyword rich domain preferences in the SERPs is eroding the once appreciated quality.

I would like to see more hitwise data, as 49 Million US users for Google+ seems extraordinary.

almost 5 years ago


Trucos Seo

Google fight against Facebook but the batlle is lost from the begining.

Probably Facebook is working in a new and more comptetitive search engine that directly push Google from the best results to another position, from de number 1 to number 2.

Next steps? Watch another and imitate. It's clear.

almost 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

Loving the comments. The search world is divided but most importantly, most online searchers won't know what has happened and won't give a toss as long as they get relevant and useful results. The issue is that this is likely to distort those results.

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, I can see the relative benefits of personalising my search based on my G+ network. So if I'm looking for cool things to do in London this weekend, and I see a good friend has +1'd a gig or an exhibition, that would be useful for me.

Why does this need to be integrated into search results? Well, most people I know who are registered for G+ don't use it for networking or social connection. They might post content occasionally but G+ is yet to take on as a social network and I doubt it ever will, even with the latest development. Therefore, if you do surface +1'd links and comments to users from their own circles, that can add value.

However, what I'm not too delighted by is the implicit doctoring or search results with G+ content that comes from people outside my circles. Do I care what a celebrity thinks is cool in London? Or John from Reigate? No I don't. I have no idea who they are, what they do or what they're like. So that to me is noise, irrelevant info that will just annoy me. My understanding of the announcement is that there are these two strands and the latter I think is potentially anti-competitive and intrusive.

Re the Twitter and FB thing, if Twitter hasn't re-signed the agreement (I don't know why - can anyone elaborate?), then Google obviously can't integrate the real-time data. FB is surely reluctant because it doesn't want Google making people think it's more social than FB wants it to be. So the G+ move is an obvious one even if we don't like it.

At least it's keeping us all in jobs!


almost 5 years ago


James D

I think it depends on if G's search performance algorithms begin to de-value G+ results for individuals - if it does, then don't click them and it will all go away.

@GrumpyOldSEO, if you search, you search to find what you're looking for. If personalisation can help you, then that's fine.

There are many positives to personalised search, both on Google and on ecommerce sites. For example, I wish ASOS personalised their onsite search so if I search for "tshirt", they know I'm a male and only show me men's t-shirts. The data is there - so why not use it?

Similarly, if Google+ knows I'm interested into ecommerce and I search for "ecommerce trends in 2012", then if I can be suggested the latest G+ posts from ecommerce experts, then cool - thanks very much.

Take the "cars" example on SEland. Will users actually search "cars"? Probably not. If they do, then we can guess they'll be taking a very broad approach to the search, so showing different people things that might interest them based on their social network will probably work. To be honest, the search for "cars" carried out by Danny Sullivand might be really relevant to him (perhaps he, or people in his circles, drive a Prius, long for a Ferarri but are actually more likely to buy a Nissan LEAF electric car). Incognito mode only means that session data isn't stored on the browser's PC, it doesn't mean it won't marry up visitor data through some other means other than cookies.

Of course, we don't have it yet here in the UK. Once it does come, we can then assess how things will change. I think it means companies will have to work harder in terms of creating better content for tightly defined audience and create better distribution methods through trust models...

almost 5 years ago


Krinal Mehta

Integration of G+ was only a work in progress when the agreement b/w Google & Twitter didn't work out. It has been a long known fact that Social Signals will keep influencing organic search more in the coming days.

Would love to watch when Google will start pushing PPC ads from within the G+ profiles OR add promotion tabs to G+ business pages. (Certainly a google.com landing page will invite a better quality score and early approvals, right?)

Sides, why not integrate results from product listing sites like pinterest.com to Google Product Search and likeways.. Search 3.0 ?

almost 5 years ago


Krinal Mehta, SEO Analyst and Content Writer at Kaushalam Digital Pvt Ltd

Integration of G+ was only a work in progress when the agreement b/w Google & Twitter didn't work out. It has been a long known fact that Social Signals will keep influencing organic search more in the coming days.

I would rather wait and watch when Google will start pushing PPC ads from within the G+ profiles OR add promotion tabs to G+ business pages. (Certainly a google.com landing page will invite a better quality score and early approvals, right?)

Sides, why not integrate results from product listing sites like pinterest.com to Google Product Search and likeways.. Search 3.0 ?

almost 5 years ago


Media Services

+Andy Nattan - poor product? Google Plus? Easily the best social network built so far. Easily and improving at a rate which exceeds innovation across all the other platforms combined. Google's finally building a truly social product which has long been the vision for search.

As for promoting it's own products- no. It's Facebook and the other tech companies that have built walls to keep Google out. Google only has access to about 10% of all web content and has little access to Facebook's walled garden so it has to prioritise its own products.

Google has always had an open approach to the web, it's Google's competitors that have taken a closed approach and have no right to complain about Google's improvements to search, which will benefit the end user as much as Google.

My only concern with deep personalisation of search results is that Google must ensure that people don't just get access to information which only supports what people already believe. It's important that people receive news and information which will also challenge their point of view.

I'm sure Google will address those concerns though. I think Google's recent changes are staggering in their breadth, speed and I applaud their work over the last couple of years! It's really amazing.

over 4 years ago

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