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Hey Google, who asked you... to ask my friends? Search, plus your world.

Yesterday, January 9th2011, Google posted a video to it's YouTube channel called “Search, plus your world.”

Here's the video:

 

 

 The video its self is visually appealing and commands your attention, but for those of us who already know what Google+ and +1 are, I think it was a little convoluted. Immediately after first watching the video I realized that this warranted a post on ADM.

A few months ago we wrote about how the Google +1 button was a new way to SEO, and now things are changing again. Google search results, when logged in to Google, will now rank websites higher if they not only have +1 endorsements, but also Google+ profile posts and comments, pulling that information right in to the SERP.

This video and the changes made to google search results with the inclusion of Google+ and +1 brings up yet another need for media literacy. It is important that people know what this is and why they see it when they enter in keywords. Why? Because although it is “cool” an could potentially help us make decisions, it could also hinder our research process.

 

We've asked our clients if they think their new potential customers would rather click on a link that their friend(s) endorsed over one that wasn't.. and usually they said yes. And we think so, too. But in that statement lies the paradox: sometimes what our friends know and think is helpful, but sometimes it isn't and we don't necessarily know which is which.

 

For example, if all I know is that I need a new car and don't have any brands in mind or know very much about cars in general, then searching and seeing endorsements by my friends could help me very much in my decision, at the very least it can expedite my ZMOT research.

 

However, if I do know what I want or know a lot about cars or at least the different features that are important to me, I may not need the input of my friends. Instead, I need to do my due diligence and research what I want. If this process is interrupted by my friends' endorsements, then I may be steered off course or at the very least I may waste time weeding through what they've suggested.

 

I'm not saying that this integration is bad. I think that in a lot of situations it can be beneficial to search. I just think there needs to be an “Off” button. Ever have a friend or colleague who gave you advice on everything that came out of your mouth, solicited or not? That's kind of what this is like. Even if we're not looking for advice, it is presented to us right there in the organic SERP results.

 

Right now the only Off button is to log out of Google and start your search over, but I'm willing to guess that the average person isn't going to go through all of that hassle, or even know that it's an option. With the increase in “(not provided) “ as a keyword referral, we can see that a lot of people are searching while logged in to Google and winding up on dealership websites.

 

I'm hoping that Google puts out a TV ad about this new search, and one that doesn't look as convoluted as this video so that people know what's going on when they search for things and their friends' heads and comments pop up.

 

I'm interested to hear what others think about this, do you think it's a good idea? How to do think it will affect automotive SEO?

Views: 198

Tags: +1, Google, Google+

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Comment by Cole Matthew Mitguard on January 12, 2012 at 4:16pm

This popped up in my RSS feed, thought that I would share. Article on SEOmoz about the same topic, even includes automotive examples. 

http://searchengineland.com/google-search-plus-impact-on-local-limi...

Comment by Cole Matthew Mitguard on January 11, 2012 at 4:56pm

@ Stepthen 

This is a great point, would be great to have integration with other social networking other sites, Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In would be perfect. But... I don't see that happening anytime soon, Google has made it abundantly clear that they are not going to allow 3rd parties to integrate with their web solutions. (Google is a vertically oriented web company imo)

If anything, I expect Facebook will launch search based services of their own... Has anyone noticed that facebook already hosts Bing search? Would be very interesting if Microsoft and Facebook team up to offer fully integrated search... would be a great platform for struggling Bing (losing some 500 million a MONTH) and a way for Facebook to get into the search engine game without having to develop their own algorithm. 

Either way, this will mean even more integration of social media in organic results. 

Comment by Stephen Murphy on January 11, 2012 at 3:09pm

Overall, I like the thought process behind this integration. Make the web more personalized and relevant to the searcher, and let the crowd decide which results are relevant for a particular query. 

What I don't like, is that it consists only of Google+. The only people in my circles that are really active on Google+ are other marketers, and I'm still waiting for mainstream adoption of the service amongst the majority of my friends. I trust my Facebook and Twitter networks much more than my G+ network, and until Google is able to incorporate a more diverse field of "shares", I don't think this will have much effect on me as a consumer. 

Comment by Brittany Elizabeth Richter on January 11, 2012 at 2:58pm

Why don't we want it? I'm not sure about the "we" - but I don't want it because I use social media only sometimes for "search" - I use it for networking, sharing ideas, exposure, staying connected with people. And I trust my friends but I don't trust every single one of them on every single topic I could be searching about. Do I trust SEO'd websites more? There's an argument there, too. I just think that for some it may be great, but for and possibly other's it won't be - but I can choose to disable the feature so I think that having the option is better than not having the option.

Comment by Cole Matthew Mitguard on January 11, 2012 at 2:47pm

@ Brittany 

 What we are seeing today is just the infancy of social media integration into search. As with anything, the first stages are going to have their struggles to find the "just right" combination of features, but in a year?

By simply stating that Social Media integration into SEO results is akin to "unsolicited advice", you are missing the entire point. The truth is that there are TRILLIONS of "answers" on the internet for the TRILLIONS of "questions" that are entered into search engines. By harnessing the power of social media, we are able to filter through all of the garbage thats out there are really get the answer to what we seek. 

When I search, I want EVERY tool available to me, I want social suggestions, I want a Google algorithm clearing out the crap, and if a friend of mine has already been to the site (I actully trust my friends... ) then I assume that its worth me checking out before another similar site because a REAL PERSON said it was. If you want to take the unlimited parallel option, or that everybody will eventually be connected to everybody so what does it matter, well then my response is that I will deal with that when it comes. 

I guess the crux of my argument is this... why dont we want social integration? And how is it "unsolicited" if the advice came from a social media source? Does this mean that Google provides unsolicited advice when it provides an organic result? The two are the same, one based on a human opinion, and one based on an algorithm, they both have their flaws, but when combined make each result better. 

Comment by Brittany Elizabeth Richter on January 11, 2012 at 10:40am

Hi Cole, thank you for your comment. I agree with a lot of what you said here, including that especially in areas like LA where there's so much competition for page one, that this could become a huge factor and I too look forwarding to see what receives more weight in Google's eyes.

The one thing I think we'll have to agree to disagree on is that the social opinions make search easier. The user doesn't choose which of their connections' input show up in search. When I go on Facebook or Twitter and ask a question it is because I want the feedback from my social connections - it is solicited. If I'm searching in Google and I get social feedback, it is unsolicited. Now, if Google's (and your) argument is that this integrates both at once - killing two birds with one stone, if you will - and since, As Joey pointed out, there is an "Off" button so it does in fact make it easier, I still disagree. Because when I ask a question on social media, the answers are answers to my questions - not responses that a Google algorithm is deeming relevant. It is possible that the people, and the information from those people that Google pulls in isn't helpful - and with the number of people we're all connected to, I think it is likely to happen more often than not.

But this is not to say I think it's terrible. I don't think we'll really know which of these things is happening until it's out in full force and we can see for ourselves. There's obviously lots of pros and cons for the user, dealerships, etc.

But you're right, for those resistant to digital marketing or leveraging the Internet at all, this could be a rude awakening!

Comment by Cole Matthew Mitguard on January 11, 2012 at 9:28am

Brittany, so you are for or against Google+ integration in SEO Results? You didn't really state an opinion one way or the other. 

IMHO, this is going to be FANTASTIC for the end user, and probably not that great for internet marketing companies that don't recognize that times are a changing. It is going to be great for the end user as content will be graded not just by an algorithm based on keywords, but instead on actual user input... and that is going to make the web a lot better. 

Your argument regarding vehicle search in my opinion is off base, why wouldn't I want my purchasing decision influenced by those in my social circles. If you really had NO idea what car/brand you were interested in, most likely (unless you a complete social troll) would be to ask one of your friends who know about cars... if they say cax X is better than car Y and your value their opinion, then that is more valuable than all the marketing in the world. So from a user perspective, if I type in the keywords "Midsize Family Car" and it shows me all the vehicles that fit this segment, including reviews and recommendations  made by members of my social circle then that's GREAT, as it makes my search easier. 

But, that is not really what ADM is all about, we are here to talk about the dealership... this is where Google+ is going to get interesting, especially in large metropolitan areas where there are several dealerships of the same make. For example, if you are a Toyota dealer in LA (there are about 15 in a 30 mile radius) then where your show up organically for terms such as "Toyota Dealers Los Angeles" will most likely be heavily influenced by the number of "+1" your dealership has received, especially if it came from a member of that customers social circle (one of their friends)...

What I think will be interesting is to see how Google assigns the weight of "+1" compared to Google Reviews in determining organic rankings...

Comment by Brittany Elizabeth Richter on January 11, 2012 at 5:40am

Thank you for your comment, Joey. I agree that it is early and I too am interested to see it in my own searches, too. I see both sides, to be honest. I was really interested in seeing what others thought about this, so thank you for your input! And I agree that a lot of people we work with will be fine with figuring it out - but that's a small percentage of the overall number of people who use Google every day.


Dealer
Comment by Joey Abna on January 10, 2012 at 4:03pm

From what I understand from the blog post on the Google Blog you can opt out and you can also toggle between the results by clicking an icon on the serps page. I would like to believe that most of the people that are in Google Plus would easily be able to navigate between the two searches. But, I'm fully aware that plenty of people still type a URL into the search box to get to a website instead of typing in the address bar so I'm sure plenty of people will be confused. 

The part of this post that caught my attention most was your title. "Hey Google, who asked you... to ask my friends?" The first 3 non Google Plus account users I spoke with about this felt like they were somehow violated that Google would make this connection. They definitely did not like that they would be automatically opted into the feature.

Its still early and I am waiting so see the new results in my own searches. If people stay opted into the service I can see this having a huge impact on the ever changing search landscape. Also, it is another shining example of brands not being able to control their messaging. 

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