Google Changes Search – Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

What is Search Plus Your World?

‘Search Plus Your World’ is Google’s latest major update, and the first to actively incorporate the user’s social network into the SERPs.

So, along with the usual web pages, blog posts shared by people in the user’s Google+ network will appear, as well as image results from friends’ Picasa accounts and videos liked by friends on YouTube.

With the Twitter deal having ended, Google’s primary source of data is Google+, so a high priority will be given to activity from the user’s Circles. However, as social is clearly the direction Google wants to go in, don’t be surprised if a new deal is made with Twitter (and perhaps Facebook?) very soon.

How does this change my SEO strategy?

As part of the update, Google has made a very prominent toggle allowing you switch off Your World and just stick with the usual SERPs. However, most people are unlikely to do this. That means maximising your potential for appearing in people’s Search Plus Your World results should be a priority.

Link building by itself will no longer be enough. A strong presence on Google+ will be essential, as well as a content strategy geared towards a high number of +1s. The more your content is shared on Google+, the more likely it is to show up in Search Plus Your World Google results.

This also means that the emphasis will have to shift away from the homepage, as the chances of penetrating the Search Plus Your World results will be much higher with blog and video content.

If you haven’t already, incorporating a ‘passive’ approach to link building (i.e. generating content for the purposes of ‘linkbait’) will be essential. Content likely to generate links is also likely to attract +1s and shares, the worth of which will undoubtedly to grow over time.

Finally, as Google is clearly incorporating social data into their algorithm, it’s safe to say that links from pages with high social worth will be more valuable than those without.

This last point is important — some niches (e.g. plumbing) won’t have to worry about the social aspect as much. Searches like these are unlikely to generate Your World results. However, the approach to link building will probably still benefit from an emphasis on social worth; so when conducting ‘traditional’ link building, social metrics will become just as important as PageRank et al.

Diversifying your approach

The ‘take home’ point is that if your online marketing strategy, whether for your own business or a client’s, is solely focused on traditional, link building based SEO, then it’s time to diversify your approach.

How much SEO changes directly in the wake of Search Plus Your World remains to be seen. What is certain is that it is the first step towards a more social Google, requiring a correspondingly more social SEO strategy.

If you’ve managed to escape social marketing in your approach thus far, Search Plus Your World should at the very least serve as a wake up call to the importance of social in your online marketing.

Jamie Graham blogs on online marketing topics for SMEs. You can read more of his posts on the Web Development and SEO blog.