This week Google has announced a major change to their search results called “Search plus Your World” which isn’t a particularly catchy title.
When I first tried the system yesterday afternoon I searched for “golf” and Google came up with pictures of myself and some friends on a golf holiday in 2005. For an average searcher they probably wouldn’t think this was amazing but I think it’s pretty mind blowing. To have Google searching the web and images stored in my Picasa albums is just amazing to see working.
I think the way Google has launched this is really clever. In the past both Twitter & Facebook have tried to stop Google indexing all their content and wouldn’t give them full access to crawl sites. Twitter used to give Google a feed of all tweets but turned that feature off and killed the real time search that Google used to show for breaking news events. Now that Google has launched with a massive favouritism for Google+ data we here Twitter making statements saying that this isn’t fair.
For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet.
Often, they want to know more about world events and breaking news. Twitter has emerged as a vital source of this real-time information, with more than 100 million users sending 250 million Tweets every day on virtually every topic. As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results.
We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.
So Twitter stopped the agreement to give Google a feed of tweets and is now saying that this new system isn’t fair and wants to be included. All Google has to do is agree to include Twitter and ask for full access to data and Twitter will probably agree.
At the moment unless you use Picasa and Google+ or have friends that do then the new system isn’t a major change to the organic results. But once Google gets Facebook and Twitter on board as well as perhaps LinkedIn then this will be amazing.
SEO at present is about getting people to link to sites and the search results are based on a voting system that takes into account how trusted each linking site is. This has no relation to whether the person linking for the site is actually trusted by the searcher or not. I can see in a few years that Google will be focussing more on surfacing sites and search results that a users friends like as well as relying on links from sites that the searcher might have never heard of.
The new changes have a major impact on PPC. A search for “cars” brings up the Google+ results shown below for Ferrari & BMW above the PPC ads on the right hand side of the page. For BMW & Ferrari where PPC is mainly a brand play I’m sure they would much prefer to have their logo and a long snippet of text rather than a PPC ad, especially when it’s totally free.
Getting users to share your content on Google+, Twitter & Facebook has to be a part of your SEO strategy for 2012. Certainly brands need to be working on building up followings on these social networks every single month.
For those people who think this is the end of SEO I can assure you it isn’t. As long as people still search for things then there will still be sites needing to use SEO to get to the top of the list of search results. Whether SEO is about on-site optimisation, links or encouraging sharing via social media sites or some other method is irrelevant.