Google just made one of the most significant changes to their search results that they’ve ever done, and for once it wasn’t a change in the algorithm. What they’ve done is they’ve finally added social results and personal results in a big way into their search engine. They’ve had these things before, but now it’s official and Google has announced this with Google Search Plus Your World, which was launched today. Now, the plus part that is obviously important because these results are pulled from Google Plus to help add extra data to the search results.
It forms three parts, which I’ll go through now, the first of which is personal results, which will be indicated in the search results with a blue icon of a man. What this does is it pulls results that your friends have liked, things that you’ve seen before, and adds them into the search results, in effect pushing down other content that would have appeared there before organically.
This means the concept of rankings no longer exists essentially. We can look at rankings on a non-logged in, non-personalised search of course and get a good bearing from that, but personal people’s rankings can now be completely altered depending on who they’ve interacted with online and the pages that they viewed in the past.
It’s a really big change, and it means that every website needs to have a sense of community. You need to have people on your website sharing your content with other people. If you haven’t had great content before that people will share, you need it now because otherwise people aren’t going to socially share it and you’ve got less chance of showing up against the people who do.
Profiles in search, this is what Facebook should have added years ago, and this is Google looking at what Facebook is doing wrong and saying, “We can do it better.” So if you start typing a friend’s name into the Google search box now, under this change, your friend’s name will start to come up automatically, and you can see the things that they like and more about them. It’s a great idea, and it’s really something that was missing on Facebook, where you found people in a very laborious way.
People and pages. We’ve seen this already. We’ve seen profile pages for people and various brands starting to appear. Now it’s official. They’re going to appear more and more. So, if your brand isn’t on Google Plus, then you need to go on it right now, and you need to start building up a following of people.
The other interesting thing is that Google’s added SSL to all this data, which is what led to the ‘Not Provided’ issue, where we were seeing less keyword data passed into Analytics. Now it sort of makes sense why they did that, because now we’re looking at people’s personal data at a really high level, protecting the privacy of people’s search results, makes more sense now. Whilst before we looked at it and said, “There’s no way this has to do with privacy.” It does actually look like Google were looking at a bigger picture of privacy, and that this is probably the reason that we had SSL.
So in one go they’ve managed to reduce the amount of keyword data we’re going to see on our website and destroy rankings. So it’s going to be a really interesting time from now on. I don’t think this fundamentally means SEO has changed in any way really. You should already be doing social things, such as spreading good content and telling people to pass it on and trying to make your website interesting. This has just made it more important, if anything. But traditional SEO tactics, such as link building, are still going to be fantastic to get you up the page of results.
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