Last week, Google threw itself into the big world of social networking. They have launched a new project called Google+ which aims to make Google more social. It is a communications tool designed to complement and reflect all of our offline relationships. At the moment, Google+ is still in a limited field test and the service is currently restricted, unless you were one of the lucky people who got an invitation.
In the past, Google used Twitter for faster indexation of content, to power real time results and also for use in their ranking algorithm. It has been reported that Google removed real time results from Twitter and other websites such as their News and Facebook. However, Google plans to reinstate real time results using Google+.
Even though Google+ is different from Google+1, with each having their own unique functions – they do connect with each other. Users who have a Google+ account or a normal Google account will be able to click on the Google+1 button, which will essentially allow users to vote for their search results and see which websites other connections or friends have “+1ed”. Therefore, the result’s rankings will not only affect you, but also people that you are connected with through Google.
Some of Google+’s features
The main feature of Google+ is the Circles feature, which is similar to Facebook and Twitter Lists. Circles allow you to allocate contacts to Circles e.g. Family, Friends, Snowboarding Group, Acquaintances and whoever else you want in the Circle. You can then publish content to specific Circles or specific individuals, because as Google states, “not all relationships are created equal”.
At the moment, there seems to be more control over privacy on Google+ compared to Facebook. You can share photos with your family in one post, and then publish something publicly in the next post.
Hangout is another feature of Google+. It’s a group video chat feature where you can invite members of a certain group by sending them a notification. An additional feature of the new social networking site is Huddle, which is a mobile group chat service which could also become available from your mobile phone in the near future.
Sparks is an online sharing engine where you can create a topic of interest and share links with group friends who also have the same interests. E.g. you could share results of Snowboarding in France with your “powder chasing” friends.
Some people may wonder why Google has bothered launching Google+. The reasons are because nowadays, search is about real-time information, people and the relevance of information to them, not just about pages.
Google has been an advocate for real time and social media for a while now, with Google Buzz, Google Places, Google Wave and not to mention the list of its acquisitions of social sites e.g. YouTube and Blogger.com.
The senior vice president who oversees Google’s social product, Vic Gundotra, said “It’s ‘project’ rather than a product because it’s an ongoing set of products and ‘Plus’ because it takes products from Google and makes them better”.
Google doesn’t see itself as a competitor to Facebook or Twitter, as they say that the way people connect online is limited – it’s just a new way to connect online with the people that matter to you.
For now, businesses and organisations have been warned to stay away from Google+. Christian Oestlien, advertising lead on the team behind Google+ explains that the social media site was designed for individuals in mind, “We’re working on building a optimised business experience for Google+ which will hopefully be rolled out later on this year. It will include the ability to connect to other parts of Google such as AdWords and other rich analytics”. However, their main focus at the moment is optimising the consumer experience for Google+.
In terms of SEO, social media won’t replace traditional SEO however, it will indeed help it. SEO practices including link building, content creation, keyword research and targeting will be the foundation for ranking success. Even though social media is gaining more importance and interest, using a combination of both technical SEO techniques and social media are the best steps towards success.
Sadly, we weren’t lucky enough to get our hands on an invite the first time round, but we are looking forward to when we are able to get onboard with the project.