POV: Google “Search plus Your World”Prepared January 24, 2012The Purpose of this POV:The purpose of this POV is to recommend how your brand can utilize Google+ based on the refined searchwithin Google and execute an integrated search/social marketing strategy to take advantage of the newlandscape.Summary:At the beginning of the New Year, Google undertook a complete revamp of its search algorithm in order tosurface relevant social content (posts, photos, profiles, conversations, recommendations) from Google+, thecompany’s new social network launched in 2011. This new data now appears at the top of Google searchresults along with other content as processed under the older algorithm. The Google+ profiles of onlineinfluencers will also appear in the right-hand side of search results. This entire new revamp has been given aname: Google Search plus Your World.Google’s official statement on how Search plus Your World WorksGoogle issued an official release that stated the following on their new search algorithm:―We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people andrelationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in thisdirection by introducing three new features: 1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page; 2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and, 3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community. How Search plus Your World Works Google Search Plus Your World is the largest effort yet by Google to integrate search and social. Google has altered the search universe, stating that activity within its Google+ social network should play a more influential role in how people discover content on the Web. It is not just when people search for specific brands that Google will display customized results: anytime people search for broad topics such as ―technology,‖ they will also see content from Google+ integrated with traditional search results. The Basics on How Search plus Your World Works: For an introduction of how the search functionality works on Google, watch the video here: http://youtu.be/8Z9TTBxarbs
When a user enters a search term: Behind most queries now on Google are communities that exist withinGoogle+. If a user searches for a topic like ―music‖, you might see prominent people who frequently discussthis topic on Google+ appearing on the right-hand side of the results page. You can connect with them onGoogle+, strike up meaningful conversations and discover entire communities in a way that simply wasn’tpossible prior to the creation of Google+. As a result of this new ecosystem, the single best way for a brand toget their content to appear in Google search results is to have an active Google+ brand page that engages inconversations with relevant influencers. For example, The New York Times is the #7 brand on Google+, withnearly 95,000 followers. As a result, New York Times content from Google+ is the second-highest searchresult, right under ―nytimes.com.‖ The second best way to have content appear in Google search results is tohave Subject Matter Experts or SMEs talking about your products and services on the Google+ socialnetwork.
Google+ Activity Predicted to Significantly Increase: Users can now have their conventional websearches bolstered by content pulled from their Google+ social graph (if they have one). What this means isthat the next time a user makes a web search query, their results will blend between conventional photos,
maps, Wikipedia articles etc. and relevant user generated content from Google+. The user will only be able to search across private information if they are privy to viewing it in the first place, or if the content is set to public. The benefits of Google’s search and social functionality finally integrating in a meaningful way are enumerable. It makes the most of their existing resources and what they are historically good at (search), and integrates this with social network Google+, something seen as essential to the long-term sustainability of Google as a whole. Google+ activity will likely increase as a result of these updates, and users should be informed of some ways to best optimize their new search results. Firstly, ―your world‖ results are only as good as a brand’s content. A brand can interpret this on two different levels. On one level their content may be superfluous, and ultimately take away value from the search results. On another, users must be vigilant about the quality and presentation of their content. For instance, naming photos is a necessary, yet often neglected task. Despite these minor impediments to success, it will be interesting to see if this new search functionality will give Google+ a significant lift in its user base and traffic.What does Ogilvy recommend you do next?Google+ will become even more important for guiding conversations around products, services and brands.With that in mind, Ogilvy’s Digital Influence team recommends the following: 1. If you have not done so, it is wise to claim your brand page on Google+. Once you have an idea of design and content strategy, you should begin using it to start conversations about your brand immediately. Given the new prominence within search results, these Google+ pages ensure that content about your brand – from photos to posts – will appear in the search results of your customers. Just as you would encourage customers to ―like‖ your brand on Facebook, you should be encouraging customers to follow your brand on Google+. 2. A ―+1‖ campaign should be in order for your brand. Besides urging fans to add your page to their ―circles,‖ they should also +1 content you push out. This helps this content rise in the search algorithm results. 3. Encourage key employees of your brand to establish an active presence on Google+. Google is encouraging everyone to become a ―social advocate‖ whenever someone searches for a specific topic. Once someone has created a Google+ profile and engaged with an audience on relevant topics, they will be eligible to appear on the right-hand side of Google search results, next to online influencers and prominent people. The leading brands on Google+ are already performing this action well. An example of this is both Ford’s (*CL) global social media coordinator and European social media coordinator show up in the search result as influencers when searching the term Ford.Understand who your influencers are on Google+ and connect with them. As part of best practices, brands canno longer be passive to social network conversations – they should actively reach out to influencers on Google+
who have the greatest impact on helping amplify your brand.FAQ on Google and Google+What is “Search plus Your World?”Search Plus Your World is a confusing term that Google named a new way of showing personalizedsearch results. Some people have shortened the name to SPYW.What’s personalized search?Personalized search is where a search engine gives a boost to listings based on things that are specificto an individual. If you go to a particular web site often, or if your friends have all shared a link, those arepersonal signals that can be used to reward a listing and cause it to rank better.Signals? Ranking? What does all this mean?Search engines like Google use something called an ―algorithm‖ to figure out what pages to return in thetop results. The algorithm is like a recipe; the signals are like ingredients in that recipe.Is personalization new?No, Google has had personalized search for a long time, since June 2005, actually. But it expandedthese and changed the way they were presented, especially using your own search and web surfingpatterns, in February 2007.Then in December 2009, Google made personalized search the default for everyone. Even if you aren’tlogged into Google, it uses the past 180 days worth of searches linked to your web browser topersonalize your results.What’s different now?Search Plus is combining personal signals — your search and web history — along with social signals tocreate a new form of personalized results. It’s not just who you are that now influences what you see. It’swho you know. What your friends like, share or create can influence what shows up first when you searchfor something.Google didn’t use social signals or have social search before?Yes it did. Google has offered social search since October 2009. Until a few weeks ago, the social searchresults were compiled separately from the personalized results. You often wouldn’t spot them because allthe results — social, personalized and ―regular‖ — were mixed into one single results list.Everything’s still being mixed, but now one recipe is being used to create personalized results from bothpersonal and social signals. As Google stated last week: ―The social search algorithm, and the personalsearch algorithm, and the personalized search algorithm are actually one algorithm now, and we aremerging it in a way that is very pleasant and useful to all users.‖What’s this about private material showing up?That’s another new part of SPYW. When you search, if you have a Google+ account, it will look throughanything that’s been privately shared with you, to see if it matches what you’re looking for. That getsmixed in with web-wide matches.
For example, if someone shared a picture with you of their kitten on Google+ (or Google Picasa), whenyou search for ―kittens,‖ you might see their kitten picture.Similarly, if someone wrote a Google+ post about a great car repair place — and only shared that withfriends like you — when you search for ―car repair,‖ you might see that post showing up in the top results.Without this type of integration, that content wouldn’t appear.Is this a privacy issue?It shouldn’t be. Google only shows personalized results when you’re logged in and using an encrypted orsecure connection, so no one can discover private information.Potentially, because the private information is showing up in front of what seems like a public list,someone might share what they find more broadly. It’s also possible that the integration might give morevisibility to privately shared information that people thought was forgotten.Will my Facebook posts be searchable?Google has no way to see what you shared privately with anyone on Facebook. It doesn’t have access tothat data. In fact, it doesn’t appear that Google even has access to public posts on personal pages fromFacebook.Google can see posts made to Facebook fan pages so some Facebook information may appear.Will my Twitter posts be searchable?Private posts can’t be seen by Google. But many public Twitter posts will turn up in your search results.Not all of them because Google simply can’t crawl all the content that Twitter has without causingdisruptions to Twitter itself.Twitter offers what’s called a ―firehose‖ stream of data to search engines, so search engines can geteverything in an efficient manner.Why doesn’t Google get the Twitter firehose?Google did until last year. The company cut a deal with Twitter for firehose access and was using it topower Google Realtime Search. But the companies couldn’t agree on terms to renew, so the deal endedin the middle of last year.Doesn’t Facebook block Google?Facebook only lets Google access some of its information. It provides much more to Bing. Thecompanies have argued over who is at fault and this debate is sure to continue with the new searchresults.More details have recently come to light that part of the reason behind the collapse of a potentialFacebook-Google deal was disagreement over how to handle public versus private data.Why is Twitter crying foul if it won’t give up the firehose?Part of Search Plus was a new feature where if you search for generic words, Google will suggest peopleyou should follow on Google+ but not on Twitter or Facebook. For example, here’s a search for music:
See how Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg show up as recommendations? That only happens becausethey’re on Google+. Lady Gaga just joined Google+ after ignoring Google+ since its inception. She’s oneof the most popular people on both Twitter and Facebook but is strategically taking advantage of the newsearch algorithm by building a Google+ brand page.Is this Google favoring itself?Google is in the middle of an anti-trust review by the US Federal Trade Commission to determine if itfavors itself with its search results.However, Google+ is different. With Google+, Google’s not giving preferred placement to vertical searchresults that ultimately lead out to others. Instead, it’s favoring its own Google+ service, showing ―results‖that only come from Google+. If you’re a business, this is a huge incentive to make use of Google+ toenhance your ranking in search.Maybe Twitter & Facebook shouldn’t block Google so they’d be favored?Google has plenty of public information to provide a ―Pages & People To Follow‖ search engine thatwould recommend interesting social accounts from Google+ and beyond. For example, consider this:
That’s Britney’s official Google+ profile, where she links to her Twitter and Facebook accounts. Since thisis a verified page, it’s easy for Google to completely trust that these are official social accounts. That datacould be used to create a comprehensive social directory. But it hasn’t been used in the new searchalgorithm.It’s Google’s search engine so it can do whatever it wants. Right?Actually, it can’t. If Google is deemed to have a dominant position in search — something that its ownexecutive chairman Eric Schmidt agreed it had when testifying in a US Senate hearing last year — thenGoogle might be required to go above-and-beyond to ensure it’s not using that position to favor itselfunfairly over competitors.If someone doesn’t like it, they can turn it offPersonalized results can be disabled on a one-time basis using a special toggle or permanently.However, the Google+ recommendations cannot be disabled. In fact, they show up for Google searcheseven if you’re completely logged out of Google, and even if you don’t have a Google+ account.As a marketer, should I really care?Yes and quickly. Do you want to be in the top results for a category? Look here when a search for cars isconducted:
See how Ferrari and BMW have prime real estate at the top of the search results page? That’s becausethey have Google+ business pages. If you don’t have a page, you won’t appear. It makes being onGoogle+ extremely compelling for businesses.Will this change have lasting powers?The blurring of the line between ―search‖ and ―social‖ will continue, as Google aggressively promotes itsGoogle+ social network at the expense of Facebook and Twitter. While the initial enthusiasm overGoogle+ may have faded, brands need to realize that due to the major impact of search on the purchaseand decision funnel, this change to Google Search means they will need to take more aggressive steps inbuilding out their presence on Google+.What necessary steps should my brand take right now?At the minimum, right now brands should claim their brand page on Google+ and encourage a fewemployees to register on the network and make sure their info is filled out correctly so they come upwhen the brand is searched as potential Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Even if you can’t design andbuild content to push to this channel right now, it’s important to at least set up real estate on thisburgeoning network that will have a very influential effect on both your search and social campaignsmoving forward.I want to get started today on Google+. What do I do?Your Ogilvy team can set up time with you to brainstorm ideas, strategize with you and walk you throughthe process to develop a timeline and the operation to execute an action plan. In the interim, check outhttps://plus.google.com/up/start/ for more on how to launch a Google+ page. ###