Google’s search results are undergoing one of their most radical transformations ever, as a new “Search Plus Your World” format began rolling out on January 10th. It finds both content that’s been shared with you privately, along with matches from the public web, all mixed into a single set of listings. When logged in to Google.com, users will see their personalized results displayed more prominently, and in higher concentration, than Google’s previous personalized/social search results. The release is already stirring up great controversy, accusing Google of showing bias to content found within its own social network, Google+. Google claims that it is not displaying content from Facebook/Twitter/Flickr because each has not granted Google API access. In any event, Google is definitely showing bias to content within Google+, making Google+ more important than ever. From a SEO perspective, it is as relevant now as it ever was. The ever-evolving mix of Search and Social, however, just took a significant leap forward. A brand’s level of social engagement now plays a more significant role in organic search than it once did. A brand that is not engaging socially, or has ignored social integration within its site, is now at a major disadvantage from an organic search perspective – or, should we say, from a digital marketing perspective.
To summarize, personalized results include:
- Listings from the web
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your personal behavior
- Listings from the web, boosted because of your social connections
- Public Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos (all of which are also listings from the web)
- Private or “Limited” Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos shared with you
Controversy | Privacy and Google Bias
This is already creating controversy, most of which are misconceptions, or can be explained.
Privacy - People are seeing their own personal/private results in what appears to be public (private photos, posts, etc.). Google now has access to your content, but only because you are logged in. Really, this content is not visible to the public web.
Google Bias – Many are accusing Google of favoring its own content over other equally or more relevant content. Much of the social integration appears to be favoring Google+ content. Really, Google is showing content from Google+, but mostly because Facebook and Twitter will not (have not) opened the flood gates to their platforms. Google wants to show Facebook/Twitter/Flickr in “Search plus Your World,” but claims it can’t until each social network authorizes access. Twitter/Facebook/Flickr post too much content (not to mention behind log-ins), making it hard for Google to adequately crawl in real-time. It needs the API.
People claiming Google to unjustly promote itself in search, not other social platforms
**Google claims, not favoring its own results… and is happy to talk to Twitter and Facebook about Integration
How | a Practical Applications | Clarification from Matt Cutts
High level, how it affects SEO (a couple of points could be pulled from this article)
Why Google+ is now essential (at least for now) for all brands — some great points in this article