About fifteen months ago Google introduced S+YW also known as “Search Plus Your World” or Google Plus. Google has been working on personalizing more of your Google searches since 2007 and S+YW was a big upgrade for search personalization. Prior to this, searches were already personalized by your location (computers IP address), as well as your search history. With Google+ optimization, Google was able to upgrade your search personalization again to your Google Network.
The way network-based personalization works, is that the information will only show up when the user in your network is logged into their Google account. In many countries including the United States, you know you are in S+YW if you see a switchable icon in the top right area with a silhouette and a globe icon. When a user switches to the globe icon, you are turning off (most) personalization.
Here is a quick walk through.
Say you wanted to search the “Ways to Grow Your Business.” You type “Ways to Grow Your Business” in the search box. Your results will show up.
Now here are the results while search in S+YW.
Notice the little icon to the left of the second result. This tells you that result was elevated in the rankings due to personalization. This result may be more valuable to you because you have developed a relationship with that person through Google+.
Google Graph Search vs Facebook Graph Search
For starters don’t let anyone or anything fool you, Google is WAY ahead of Facebook in the search and recommendation game. Personally, they even do it better. So what exactly is Facebook Graph Search you ask. Well let me tell you, it helps you collect and mine the data you receive of the people, places, and even events that others may be connected too. For instance lets say I want to find others like me. A young recent college graduate that loves sports, especially hockey. I would be able to conduct a search for “recent St. Louis college graduates who like hockey.” Facebook will them create a list of my friends who recently graduated from surrounding St. Louis colleges who have an interest in hockey.
What Facebook seems most excited about is their official introduction as a recommendation engine. So lets say, like me you will be visiting Washington D.C. next week. Search “D.C. restaurants my friends enjoy” next thing you know, you have a list of top restaurants your friends enjoy, how often they visit, and more. But the question then becomes are these really the best restaurants in D.C.? Or are they just restaurants my friends enjoy because they can afford it? The key here is that these results are based off pages your friends have “liked” on Facebook.
The catch here is that not all pages friends “like” on Facebook are actual great places. I’m a St. Louisan I love me some of Momma Amighetti’s sub sandwiches I may even “like” their page on Facebook but I may also “like” Subway’s Facebook page. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to recommend the closest Subway for you to eat at. I may have liked there page for a promotion or a coupon even. These kind of things are known as “like gates” set up by Facebook brand pages just to increase like counts. Many are referring to this as “like inflation” making it even more difficult for brands to their content seen by other fans. The question here then becomes how much assurance can a Facebook user have when looking at recommendations from a corrupted signal?
Google+ and personalized search is better, just better.
Google is then able to create a profile for you that is more suitable than Facebook. Google is developing ways on how you use the web and how you interact with others in your network. The insight to all of that feeds to your profile and your personalized experience on Google. Which then leads to the personal and useful recommendation mentioned earlier. In the end Google’s approach is better because it’s factored more by human behavior rather then by what we write on our Facebook profiles or by what buttons we press.
Google is able to cross-reference your search history with that of others in your Google network and decided what they think you need to see more or less of, when you’re searching. Google discourages the use of “gaming” of its +1′s and other social signals on Google+. Brands are also prohibited from running contests solely based on +1′ing the brand’s page or content. This way the signals Google gets are more trustworthy than those that Facebook seems to be relying upon. Google+ proves it is more valuable to Google and to you as well. This is Google’s way of identifying real people and learning more about them so they can easily help find the things that you need.
A well crafted network is one of the many keys to being a successful marketer. Many don’t realize though that their Google+ network maybe the most valuable to them. This is true because the more larger, diverse and influential your Google network is the more results you affect. Think about it, marketers who have been in the field for a long time know and understand the value of being found on the first page and top five of being searched. People are searching on Google for products and services with the intent to buy. They are on a mission to buy something and you as a businessman want your company at the touch of their hands instantly. Right?
Let’s say, you want to alter the search results of thousands or even millions of people who are your potential customers in your favor? Here’s how without buying links or employing extensive and expensive SEO Strategies, use your Google Network. This means that if one person who has the following of 12,000 Google+ members (and/or other Google contacts) and they follow you, you’ve gained the ability to potentially influence the search of not just one, but possible 12,000 other people, most of whom don’t even know you exist!
If you understand the advantage of your Google+ network here are some strategies to help you grow it strategically. And, I don’t mean just by numbers but by your relevant influence as well.
Connect with Google Authorship, make sure where ever and whenever you post original content online it links back to your Google+ profile. This way Google can assess your level of authority based on how people interact with your content across the web. This then contributes to the signals that Google uses to decide whom you should influence and for what.
Make it clear what you are all about. Make it clear and easy for people to have the right associations about you and your brand. When people see your name, you want them to know who and what you are about. This way they can recommend you, write about you, and interact with you about. All of these are signals for Google and where your influence should be.
Join active and relevant communities. Don’t join those no good, lame communities that do nothing for you or for your image. Communities are the new “it” thing on Google+ for becoming a useful edge to people who might have never discovered you before. Not only can you gain valuable followers by being active in Communities, there is speculation in some interesting statements from Google staffers that Google may use those topics of Communities in which you are active and influential to affect your influence on personalized search results.
Lastly, be very choosy with whom you circle with. This isn’t Facebook or Twitter where we can and should be friends with everyone. Here Google knows you by the company you keep. Google is looking to measure authority not only by what (you) the individual does and produces, but by those with whom you interact with the most.
PS: don’t forget to “work” your Google Plus network just as you would a real life network.
Content Creator/Blogger/Social Media Strategist