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Note: this article is the third in my Google+ series. The last two were: How can Google+ help your business? and How to set up a Google+ Brand Page (and 7 things you need to know before you do).

Google launched their new search algorithm to a chorus of outrage, not the least from Twitter, who publicly condemned the search giant for the change, arguing that Twitter results will now be less prominent when people are searching on Google. Facebook, MySpace and Microsoft have also gotten in on the act, not to mention thousands upon thousands of people through twitter, blogs and other social channels.

So what is Search Plus Your World, how is it related to Google+ and what is the big deal? Well…

What is Google Search Plus Your World? (or Search+?)

On the simplest level it’s a change to the Google algorithm that returns ‘more relevant’ search results when you search something based on what people in your Google+ network have recommended (or +1’d).  Here’s a video put together by Google, that showcases it… sorta.

To better illustrate the change, here’s an example drawn directly from my experience. The other day I was searching for GAP (the travel company, not the fashion label) and typed ‘gap’ into the search bar. I have been to the Gap Adventures website quite a few times before so I expected it to show up in one of the top results. Instead (also probably because I may have cleared all Internet history), this is what I was served:

Notice how Gap Adventures is not displayed above? In actual fact it was below the ‘Medical Gap Scheme’ link that appears fifth in the search results. But why on earth would some obscure Bupa health insurance link come up for me when all I searched was ‘gap’? Because I was logged into my Google+ account at the time, and someone in my network had shared this link (or +1’d it). Google decided that it had more chance of being relevant to me because of this.

If I sign out of my account, these are the results I get:

The Bupa link is nowhere to be seen, even after going through pages and pages of search results.

So that, in a nutshell is what Google Search Plus Your World is all about. There has also been a lot of talk about Google+ photos, profiles and pages being returned in search results though I’ve yet to see this – perhaps another thing that hasn’t been released down here in Australia?

What does this mean for you and your business?

If you don’t personally use Google+ it won’t make much difference to your normal search routine. In fact it won’t make any difference, at least not yet. If you do use Google+, you should add me to your circles here. Also, it means that you are going to start seeing your search results stacked towards content that your network is recommending. Remember that it isn’t websites that they have visited, but websites/pages that they have actively recommended by sharing on Google+ (this includes just clicking the +1 button). Whether you think this is brilliant or annoying is up to you. So far it hasn’t really annoyed me all that much other than when I want to see if my website is ranking for certain keywords and of course when I’m signed into Google+ it comes up first because I’ve shared it on my own Google+ page. Whilst I love being the number 1 search result, it isn’t accurately depicting the results for others.

Aside from this, I can see the benefits in the new algorithm, because I am more likely to trust content that has been shared by someone I know and am connected with.

In terms of your business, it has huge implications. This is a massive SEO opportunity for you to get your website and web content ranking higher than your competition, just by building up a network on Google+ and/or encouraging people to +1 your content. What does this mean?

  1. Put +1 all over your website. Make it easy for people to share your content on their network.
  2. Create a Google+ Brand Page and make every effort to build up your circles.
  3. Keep an eye on your competition to see what they are doing with Google+… you want to make sure you’re doing more.
  4. Make sure you have a personal Google+ account, build up your network and +1 all the web content that promotes your business (don’t forget to +1 other stuff too, like all of my articles… ;))
  5. Try to make all your web content optimised for sharing. This means that if people +1 it, or Facebook share or LinkedIn share etc, a title, description and image comes up. This will hugely impact how much your content is shared as well as how much it is read once it has been shared.

What you need to remember is that at the moment the Google+ network is relatively small (in comparison to Facebook), and that there isn’t as much +1 activity happening as I’m sure they would like. However, with these changes and presumably others in Google’s bag of tricks, you can expect activity to be picking up pretty soon. So my recommendation would be not to miss the boat. And also, most importantly, to ADD ME TO YOUR CIRCLES AND +1 ALL OF MY CONTENT :).

What do you think about the new Search+? Have you used it? Hate it? Love it? Don’t care? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to have a super fantastic weekend.

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