The link between Google Plus and the impact it will have on search results is one that many people are watching closely. Google Plus is taking hold and Google’s search product is a big benefactor as millions of motivated folks are +1ing, sharing and commenting on great content they create and find.
The content creation and curation going inside of Google Plus is one of the best reasons to participate, it’s also given Google an army of content consumers to help them hand select content.
The results of some of this work are staring to show up in search. Google Plus users that are logged into their Google account while conducting searches will start to see search results from people they are connected with in Google Plus. Search while logged out and you won’t see the shared by connections link and the search results will be altered somewhat.
This isn’t really news as Google has been trying to bring social search to life for some time and shows what they think are more relevant results when you are logged in.
The difference here though is that while social search results have been around, they’ve been limited to the perhaps few dozen people you were connected with through GMail or GTalk. With Google Plus people are connecting with thousands of people already and this is changing the search experience in more noticeable ways.
So, as a content consumer, your results may differ – for good or bad – I for one don’t like the altered search results, but some may prefer them.
But, the real question is – as a content producer does a high level of participation in Google Plus give your content a better chance of ranking well in Google? For now I think the short answer is sort of. If you have lots of connections in Google Plus and share and +1 lots of content, including your own, then some of that content will start to rise higher for searches done by your connections.
As spammers send bots into Google Plus to create large connection networks this will certainly be something Google will have to evolve.
Having said that here are three recommendations I stand by:
Get into Google Plus and build a following – it’s a better tool for business networking, content discovery and content sharing than any other network currently.
Add the +1 button to your content – the +1 button is integrated into Google Plus, but it’s also a part of the overall content discovery piece in Google search and needs to go along side your Like and InShare buttons on y0ur own blog and web pages. – I wrote a How To Add +1 Tutorial here.
Add the rel=”author” attribute to your content – Google is attempting to find another, better way to attribute original content to the original author. They have introduced a highlighting feature that will showcase Google Profile of original authors like in the image above. You need to add the rel=author attribute to your content links, point that attribute to an About Us kind of page on the same domain and have a link on that page pointing to your Google Profile page and a link on your Google Profile page should point back to your About Us page. Yoast does a great job explaining this with this tutorial for WordPress folks here