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What a week this has been in search! On Tuesday Google changed the rules in a big way and this time it could have a significant impact on search results. Don’t be alarmed its unlikely to affect your results over night so there is time to embrace the changes that are needed but change is definitely necessary unless you want to risk getting left behind.

Google are constantly updating their algorithm which is why they continue to be the most popular search engine by a country mile. But this week they took a step that forces those serious about the success of their website to sit up and listen – by engaging with Google+.

Why? In simple terms Google rolled out “Search, Plus Your World” which personalises search results like never before. In effect Google are looking at social graphs as well as link graphs to determine what results are displayed and they are taking the social indicators primarily from Google+.

What does Search, Plus Your World look like?

Google+, Twitter or Facebook – too many platforms?

The majority of Google+’s now 60M users are at the more tech savvy end of the user spectrum, the early adopters and those who are already heavily engaged in social media. I have to admit that when Google+ came along my initial feeling was that I didn’t need another social media time suck when I can get what I need from Facebook for friends and family and Twitter for business.

Google+ does seem to have taken the best bits of our favourite social media platforms and mashed them together to produce something that is quite slick, clean and very user friendly. But as its trying to do what Facebook and Twitter do so will those embedded in those systems jump ship or take on an extra platform? We’ll have to wait and see.

The beauty of Google+ is that you can mix business and personal in one stream without upsetting either group with irrelevant content because you choose what each group (circle) sees. And it beats Twitter by not forcing you to talk in scrunched up witty sound bites. The only problem with Google+ is that there aren’t enough people on there. However this push towards personalising search results means commercial sites are being forced to engage and eventually this Google gamble could turn the social world upside down so that everyone ends up using it.

7 Steps to Google+ success

  1. companies need to create a presence on Google+
  2. so they can engage with existing communities
  3. by sharing awesome content
  4. and so grow their social graph
  5. Google will reward your site in search results
  6. as well as embellishing your Adwords display
  7. and so your click through rate will increase

Simple huh? With anything “social” we advise clients to be very clear about what they want to achieve from their efforts. It makes sense to understand the audience you are reaching out to and deliver value but its just as important to measure the success of your social campaigns.

Google has made it a very simple decision for companies to make the choice to adopt a Google+ campaign – the message is that if you don’t you could be left behind. So lets get started

Getting a Presence on Google+

Create a Google+ Profile and Business Page

This video is a Google webinar with full instructions on “Getting you Business on Google+” its 34mins and covers everything you need to know to get set up. It also includes some pro tips dotted throughout which are well worth taking note of .

Draft Up Your Google+ Social Strategy

Your social strategy needs to match with your business objectives so it needs some thought and planing otherwise you can easily waste a lot of time and achieve very little.

Here are some pointers to get your strategic juices flowing:

  • Which platforms will your target audience favour? Be on them e.g. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google+
  • What do you want your campaigns to achieve? E.g. brand awareness, links, new leads, customer service, write down all the reasons you are doing this.
  • Who will run your social campaigns? – inhouse or outsourced
  • What measures of success will you use? E.g. traffic measures: analytics will tell you about traffic referrals & what those visitors do; how valuable are they compared to other sources; or, social engagement metrics: are your followers increasing, are you getting retweets and mentions. Identify suitable measures and monitor them monthly.
  • What is your Content Strategy? This is really important as it should outline what awesome and original content you will have to share with your community on an ongoing basis. E.g. blog posts, tutorials, video, webinars, white papers, infographics, widgets, resources/knowledgebase etc.
  • Decide HOW you will interact with your community and stick to your own rules. E.g. find and follow the influencers in your industry, develop relationships with them, gain trust by being helpful and providing quality information, retweet/share their stuff, engage in conversation, ask questions etc.
  • Be real! “Social” means treating people online like you would face-to-face.

When you have decided on your strategy and tactics start implementing them but keep your strategy under review constantly & update anything that needs a tweak. And don’t forget those measures of success, they will help keep you focused.

At Strategy we have previously advised on but not run social campaigns for clients, this is changing as we see how our creative link building strategies are integrating with social engagement. SEO is evolving constantly but these creative and social factors are the most exciting aspect of internet marketing. Its harder work, demanding more commitment to the long game and greater resources but the end result is worth it.

Circle Strategy Internet Marketing on Google+ or +KathDawson and +1 this post by clicking the link just under the title. Please share your comments and views on Search, Plus Your World and how you think this will affect your business.

Google shakes it up with Search, Plus Your World by