What Happened?

Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook. It’s a social network that allows you to categorize your community into Circles (like friends, family, co-workers) and communicate with like-minded people in Hangouts. You can share likes and interests as well as recommend websites and businesses to your Google+ friends. Businesses can create a Page on Google+ to increase customer base and promote products and services. People with Google+ accounts can “+1” which is a vote or recommendation for a business’ Page or a website within Google’s search results. The “+1” button appears when you hover over a listing in the search results (see screenshot below).

Example of +1 listing in Google Search Results

Google has recently released enhancements to their search platform that combines the technology of Google Search with the “+1” recommendations of Google+ to provide users with customized search results based on the preferences of their community. The idea is that recommendations from people you know are more powerful than Google’s standard recommendations, so you will enjoy and appreciate the influence of their opinions in your search results. There may be some truth behind this since a Nielsen study in April 2009 revealed that90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people that they know, with 70% trusting the opinions posted online by unknown users.

Google’s Search Plus Your World results will automatically be turned on for users with a Google+ account.

What is the Impact?

Short Term Impact

Users will see more personalized results and references to Google+ in the search results. Because Google+ activity is still in the early adoption phase, and most social media users still prefer to do their “liking” on Facebook, we won’t see a major change in the search results early on. (It’s important to note that Search Plus Your World does not incorporate Facebook pages, likes, or recommendations into the Google search algorithm.)

Long Term Impact

As Google+ gains popularity, search results will become so personalized that the person sitting next to you performing the same search query may get very different results than what you see on your screen. We also expect Google Places and Google+ to begin talking to one another, so that Search Plus Your World results will be influenced by Google Places reviews, and Google Places search results will be influenced by Google+ recommendations.

What Should You Do?

Create a Google+ Page for your business

Jump on the bandwagon and build an optimized Google+ page for your business. All you need is a gmail account to get started. Google+ will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a page.

Post regularly to grow your Circles

As with all social media, the best practice is to consistently update your page with valuable posts to gain followers and get invited into their Circles. Engage in conversation with your followers so they will recommend your business to others.  Practicing social customer service strategies lets your followers know you care about them.

Add Google+ buttons to your company website and other media

Make it easy for people to promote your business. Add a +1 button, +1 badge, and Add to Circles button to your website. You can even add a +1 button to your display ad that appears on the Google Search network. Include a Google+ button to your other formal communications like email signatures, blog posts, and online articles.

Integrate Google+ stats into your social analytics

Add Google+ tracking code to your website so you can see the web traffic that Google+ provides. You can also view demographic info about the users that have +1’d your website.