In its simplest form, search engine optimization (SEO) used to be about three things - making your content crawlable, linkable, and usable. Gaining greater visibility on search engine results pages was relatively easy. Depending on your business model, it was also much easier said than done.
Nimble smaller businesses routinely outmaneuvered larger enterprises when it came to securing specific query-relevant rankings in the search engines, especially in Google. Ultimately, relevancy had to be redefined by shifting algorithmic weightings toward trust and authority, and away from feigned popularity and repurposed content.
Now, SEO needs to be as conversational as it is contextually relevant, in order to be well represented in Google's most recent algorithmic shifts. True to form, enterprise level SEO initiatives will have to play a game of catch-up this year in order to reap new opportunities from social search results.
Google’s search results have been influenced by some measure of social signals for years. It’s only now that the social signals can wholly resonate through Google’s Search Plus Your World release earlier this month.
Google Plus Buttons made their debut in June last year. At the time, experts gave it a bit of a “so what” nod as yet another “me too” social experience. Recently Larry Page announced that 90 million users have signed up to Google Plus since launch. Those Plus buttons are growing in importance.
Google Search Plus Your World is the next evolutionary step in determining what is relevant to personalized search queries in that individuals search results are greatly influenced by their circles of friends
In Google Search Plus Your World, your friends’ online experiences are more relevant to your personal search results than links and domain authority. This is a game changer from what we all knew and understood about perceived relevancy of public web search results. When you’re signed in to Google all you need do is toggle between the two very different, yet seemingly relevant, search results.
Presumably if you find that your personalized search results in Google Search Plus Your World lack relevancy, you be well advised to start finding some new friends. Not to worry. Google’s been thinking about that too.
Last week Google rolled out yet another new feature for Google Plus that lets searchers start a conversation directly from search results, and contribute to the relevant conversation by way of the Google Plus stream.
It’s not only easier to find people, personalities and pages in Google Plus personalized search results, you can readily expand your circle of influence by adding these people to your circle of friends – and vice versa. All you need do is find the “share box” in your search results and you'll be presented with an opportunity to "join the discussion" about whatever you've searched for.
In Google Search Plus Your World, there is no search without social. Your search queries resonate social signals through personalized search.
Better be careful for what you search for. Oh, snap! That’s right. No one will know what search phrase you used, except you and Google, because your Search Plus Your World results are hidden behind https:// and no keywords will be linked to your search in any analytics programs.
Points to Ponder
While Google Search Plus Your World evolves into a centralized social hub of activity that connects search results with social functions, we must be cognizant of the fact that the search engine will likely be testing algorithms that introduce weighted social search signals into Google's public web search results.
Google search has historically been about finding the best results for the many. Google Search Plus Your World is about finding the best results for you. Now, “you” are the enterprise. That is to say, each individual that uses Google Plus represents a new opportunity to have digital content produced by or about your enterprise discovered and shared among immeasurable circles of friends.
SEO in 2012, be it public or personal, is all about providing content that is worthy of being shared, by links or by circles. Now that the context of the search query is the conversation, relevancy is truly in the eye of the beholder … as long as the people or the publication is beholden to Google+