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You may have noticed that Google has started using data from Google+ in search results. For a user this is intriguing and potentially useful - it personalises your search experience.

For brands it begins to explain the benefit you can get from Google+, as well as showing how you should make the most of the opportunities that it offers.

If you are logged in to your Google account, your search results are now enhanced by things that your contacts have shared in Google+.

If somebody in your Circles has shared a page publicly then this gives that page a boost in your search results. These 'Google+ enhanced' results are designed to give you a more personalised search experience by showing you things that are likely to be more relevant to you.

The real impact of this change, however, is for brands. It gives a clear reason for brands to engage in Google+ and impacts both the search and the social strategies that brands should adopt.

Imagine Tesco had a brand page on Google+ and that I had them in one of my Circles. It would no doubt be sharing its pages in updates and doing so publicly. This would give a boost to the Tesco homepage whenever I search for something on Google.

So if I search for 'supermarket in Chesterfield', Tesco is going to come nearer the top (maybe at the top); if I search for one of its other products (eg 'pet insurance') it would also appear nearer the top of the search results.



What does this mean? Well this would be a real benefit to brands having a good presence on Google+. By having a clear and well used presence on Google+, sharing content with those who have you in their Circles, you are actually benefiting your search engine optimisation and, almost certainly, increasing clicks through to your site.

The priority, it would then appear, would be for brands to grow the number of people who have you in their Circles. The more peoples' Circles you are in, the more people will get your page in their enhanced search results.

However, this race for Circles hides a more complicated approach to Google+ that is needed. If every supermarket was in your Circles, then the net impact on search results for any single supermarket would net out to zero.

All supermarkets would be equally enhanced and so none would change position relatively in search results. The aim with Google+, therefore, would be for brands to beat the competition to being in peoples' Circles.

You want them to follow you and none of your competitors and so you need to be fast to market and have a real, definitive reason for people to engage with you and not with your competitors. You need to offer them something useful and unique.

There is a clear danger of Google+ being used as part of an SEO strategy alone, forgetting and foregoing the social benefits you can get.

The truth is that Google+, whilst delivering significant SEO benefit, is a social experience and needs to be managed as such. You need to have a clear reason for people to engage with you and put you in their Circles. And you need to create and experience that is significantly more engaging than your competition.

The winners will be those who have a clear social strategy and have Google+ as part of it. In the meantime the best things brands can and should do is to experiment and understand how it works, and then build brand presences as and when Google allows them.

Matt Rhodes

Published 16 August, 2011 by Matt Rhodes

Matt Rhodes is Client Services Director at FreshNetworks and contributor to Econsultancy. 

9 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Matthew Read

An interesting article. There has been a lot said about brands and Google+ in recent weeks and I think there has been a large focus on +1's and SEO strategy and less social connection, as this article points out.

The SEO effects of Google+ obviously can't be ignored, but search is becoming more personal to each individual user and so interacting with Google+ users at a more individual level will likely become more important. Then again how much time will be needed to do this effectively? And will that be cost effective?

I know I am looking forward to seeing how different brands and agencies approach Google+ once it is open to all companies.

almost 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"The truth is that Google+, whilst delivering significant SEO benefit, is a social experience and needs to be managed as such"

I think the same can be said for all social networks. If you are just creating social profiles to get the link, you're missing the point. There is so much more value to be had in really building a community and following on sites like Google+. You can't just look at it as a link building tool.

almost 5 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

Google is making having a brand itself another way to be a trusted resource, just like good links are. Now also Facebook Likes and +1. An SEO's work is never done...

almost 5 years ago

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Ben Acheson

This is an important reminder that SEO and social media marketing are merging and they can no longer be effectively managed in isolation.

Your online social footprint is becoming increasingly important to search. And equally you can't approach organic search strategy in isolation - ignoring the inherrant social opportunities.

Tomorrow's digital marketing leaders will be the people who are truly blending digital and search strategy today.

almost 5 years ago

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Jonny Rosemont, Managing Director at Rosemont Communications Limited

Interesting thinking. I'm sure Google has thought about this but most importantly how they can make money from it as well. We still don’t know for sure what Google+ will offer to brands but one thought is that they might charge for the privilege of appearing in people’s search results. Let’s wait and see.

Another point is that quite a few Google+ users have never made a public post (48%), as reported by The Next Web. I’m sure this will change but if it doesn’t then people might end up having the same issue with search that they have with Facebook i.e. too much noise from brands flooding out recommendations from genuine friends. The Circle functionality of Google helps filter out noise, so perhaps people will be able to filter out specific circles from search results. That would be useful.

almost 5 years ago

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