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Chris Camacho, Starcom Mediavest’s head of paid search, talks about Your World, Google’s newest move into personalisation of search.
Google has introduced the next step in its personalisation of search: Your World. At its core, Your World aims to create “Web results I should care about” (Amit Singhal, Google Exec) and allows a deeper integration of Google+ with Google search results, personalising the results pages. Google will harvest resources from a user’s Google+ account and stored personal data to generate personal search results, more tailored and specific to what Google deems a user would like to see. This new personalised content includes photos, videos, profiles and pages sourced from people in your Google+ network.
While integrating social content into search has been attempted previously, Your World takes this to a whole new level by seamlessly integrating privately shared content from social into search engine results.
Although providing a more social search experience for the general user, the implementation of Your World results are almost certain to cause a lot of controversy across the web in the coming weeks. Despite Google’s assurances, competitors such as Twitter & Facebook will definitely have a lot to say about privacy issues such as the inclusion of an opt-out option rather than an opt-in control system. A number of reactions and counter reactions will also unravel in the coming weeks relating to anti-trust concerns. Questions could be raised around how Google is using its search dominance to push its social network on the world, by leveraging privately shared content with no apparent clear distinction between the two.
These changes are also likely to have a knock-on effect across other aspects of Google’s business channels.
The presence of the Your World results at the top of the page is likely to shake things up in the SEM arena. SEO will undoubtedly be affected, with organic results inevitably being pushed towards or even below the fold. On the flip-side, brands with low ranking in natural search could leap-frog their competitors by using a good Google+ Page to get above the fold of Page 1.
The crucial point is that social content will appear in Google search results whereas it was previously confined to places like Facebook. By becoming prevalent in an environment previously considered a place to find facts and answers, users may be influenced by it.
These changes are likely to shift toward brands establishing a presence on Google+ that is relevant and useful to their customers is now stronger than ever. This shift will not be limited to simply having a Google+ presence, but will push brands towards creating relevant and up to date content such as articles, reviews, videos and photos; the Google strategy is no longer just an SEM strategy, but will need to be a holistic approach to the growing, personalised ecosystem Google has created. As well as uniting your SEO and PPC plans, it is now crucial to bring in your ‘Social’ Google+ plans into the mix to ensure that when people search you are not pushed off the page.
For PPC, the most apparent impact is on the placement of the Google+ widget in search results, sitting above the right hand PPC results and pushing them down- the gap between position 3 and position 4 just got a lot bigger. Elements of Google+ in search like Direct Connect have already meant Google is missing out on keyword traffic and revenue; people can skip straight to a brand’s page from the search bar. As things like Direct Connect for profiles looms closer, this may have even greater implications for paid traffic
Ultimately, The popularity and use of Google+ integration in search results is dependent on how discerning users are of the service and how much they credence they place in Google+’s word of mouth content. The usefulness to users will also rely heavily on brands building up relevant content in order to keep users engaged and using the tool as part of their everyday search activities.
Your World is only being launched on Google.com currently and will likely take a while to be rolled out here in the UK so we will no doubt be able to see the impact it has on brands in the US over the coming days and weeks. One thing that is certain - search will never be the same again.