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Google Plus Starting to Impact Search

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.

google plus in search

Google Plus connections are highlighted and search results altered

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.

Example of author highlighting in Google search

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

Growing the Circle of Trust

Most organizations focus their attention on growing their customer base. The real focus should be on growing the circle of people that trust what you stand for.

Circle of TrustDo that and the customer part will take care of itself with the aid of some simple “how to buy” education.

Think about the last purchase you made. You went to a search engine, checked out reviews, asked your buddies on Twitter and maybe even visited a few comparison-shopping sites.

Most likely your purchase was influenced by what countless others said was the way to go – excluding marketing pitches, brand names or even brand recognition.

What some people fail to understand is that the bigger your circle of trust, the bigger your business potential. Your customer base resides inside the circle of trust, but when you focus on expanding the base of those that trust what your company stands for you also bring your staff and future staff, partners, vendors, mentors, influencers, journalists and collaborators into your story – and that’s how the circle builds your business.

Anyone that questions the ROI of social media needs to wrap their head around this one idea.

When it comes to building your circle of trust here’s what matters today.

The stories told in small groups matter – We love stories, and we particularly love stories we can rally around. Few things are more compelling than a story about couple of guys deciding they could create a cleaning products company like Method right under the nose of an industry giant like Proctor and Gamble and win.

The ratings found on countless sites matter – Decisions are made every day about hotels, diners and plumbers based on the reviews of patrons found on sites like Google Places or Yelp! You can tell real reviews that come from real fans because they talk about the real stuff that we care about – the little things. They talk about the people that work there as much or more than they talk about the products and services. Even large brands like RotoRooter can live and die by the review

The page one results matter – It’s not enough that a search for your business turns up your Website – let’s hope so. What’s equally important is that it turns up an entire digital presence. You need to own page one for a direct search on your firm like Niner Bikes does. You need to be there for your site, your social networks, your reviews, your community involvement and your awards.

The blog comments matter – Direct conversations with clients, about clients, about your products, about your people, about the things your company stands for are going to show up in comments on blogs. Chris Brogan, an online business consultant, routinely gets hundreds of comments to each blog post. That’s where his story is made. Your blog, industry blogs, competitive blogs – this is a fire you must start and grow, this is the real conversation.

The shares, +1s, and likes matter – Sentiment is one of the hottest measurements online these days and it’s a marker of true loyalty. Do people talk about your brand in the language of likes, shares and pluses? Not in the false trumped up “Become a fan and win” kind of way. The voluntary kind of sharing that a company like The Natural Running Store enjoys. These are the new currencies of marketing success and demonstrate the true value of a strong brand even if you’ve never heard of them yet.

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