Thoughts on Google Search plus Your World

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  • January 12, 2012

This week Google has announced a major change to their search results called “Search plus Your World” which isn’t a particularly catchy title.

There is an excellent summary of this feature here and examples of how Google favours Google+ here – this post is mainly my thoughts on the service.

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.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • Aadil

    Thanks for the information. It was bound to happen. I knew it from the day they started off the Google Plus thing.


  • Tom

    I guess the question here is whether or not you want your photos from your golfing holiday to appear when you search for golf?

    Whilst it is certainly technically impressive, the question is whether this is what the average user *wants* when they use Google. Especially on such a generic keyword.

    Personally, when I want to browse my pictures I navigate to Facebook / Picasa and browse them there. Whilst Search+ removes a step in the journey, it is unlikely that I want to browse personal files on the majority of queries I conduct. As a result, the toggle options (to de-personalise the SERPs) add that step back into the process, albeit a small one :)

    I think over time these searching habits may change as people start using Google to peruse their own files, but that begs additional questions about whether Google is really the best user experience for doing that and what incentive there is for Facebook / Twitter to open up their data to Google.

  • Photographers Hertfordshire

    There’s no doubt that they are going to push their own site. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Blonda

    Certainly, search engines become smarter over time. It means that we need to work smarter. Very nice to get links from many important sites, but now, it is necessary to do the public relations in social networks. In fact, we need to create a community around the site in addition to collection of links.

  • Mat Benett

    It’s a smart move by Google, but they actually probably need Twitter in order to pull it off. Defending their position of “we don’t favour our products” is going to be tough unless “your world” starts including something non-Google.

    How long though before stories of embarrassing pictures being seen when you are demonstrating searches for someone? For me it is a good reason not to use picasa albums, which I otherwise quite like.

  • Website Design Hertfordshire

    They are really trying to get more visitors to their social media application. FB is still the king here and many millions still visit the website on a daily basis.

  • Photographers Hertfordshire

    It’s obvious they are going to push it. It makes sense surely.

  • John

    Google plus isn’t going to work unless they simplify it.

  • Matt Beswick

    Patrick – don’t you think that this is more of an exercise to get people to use Google+ than an effort to improve search results?

  • Mark Simones

    Thanks for the post…I have to admit with Aadil, I think when Google+ was launched, we all knew it would definitely be favoured. But I agree that they should get Twitter and Facebook on-board. It sounds like Google is moving more into Social Media, so does that mean for us seo specialists that social media is now something we need to pay even more attention to?

  • Kolya

    When you are saying that Google Search plus and other social networks does not mean the end of SEO, I am completely agreed with you. But, I am not agreed with your next statement about irrelevancy of social networks when it comes to push site on top of the search result pages. Encouraging sharing via social media is the important searce of traffic. To be on top of the search result means traffic too, does’t it? The tools and meanings of SEO can be unified then by one common goal – traffic.

  • Altiona

    As Tom says, I don’t see users will love this. We will know better when it gets live but from this point it may go in other direction then Google is used for now.

  • Approved Index

    How long can we expect those branded Google+ pages to stay free once Google has sufficiently squashed Facebook’s market share? I doubt Google is giving up that PPC revenue for nothing…

  • Nathan Khan

    Thanks Patrick, Google plus is feeling very forced upon us, I don’t want to use it but feel forced to – dam you Google!

  • Grace @ Cleveland Marketing Agency

    Google is first and foremost a business. It seems obvious that in time, Google will alter their “Google+ “and “Google+ Your World” services to achieve a greater ROI, but why not take advantage of the current set-up as Patrick suggests? SEO is an ever-changing practice. As SEO specialists we should optimize sites as effectively as possible under current conditions, and calmly act accordingly when changes in technology/the web inevitably arise.

  • OsCommerce SEO

    It’s necessary to do PR in social networks. It should be the part of your strategy to give the oportunity to share your content on Google+ as well as on Facebook and others

  • Alex Mason

    Personally, whilst it is on one hand technically rather impressive, I’m not enjoying the change.

    I might have certain people in my circles, but that doesn’t mean I want to read what they read all the time. Let me find stuff for myself.

    Definitely yet to be convinced!

  • Peter Egan

    What really frustrates me is that I put in all this effort into Facebook and Twitter to develop a respectable presence at each site, only to learn that the data no longer counts, and I have to now spend months developing my +1 network in order to get the results I used to get from my already established profiled.

    Maybe it’s time to give up on trying to compete effectively in search altogether

  • seogear

    Excellent article! Social factors and improve the personalization of search for the issuance of a search. I think it should not be afraid of change.

  • dog registry

    Google is a business, they need to keep growing revenue. And since revenue to them is adwords…they do everything in their power to make organic results more and more hidden, so that companies would open up their pocket books and would buy ads. At least the new stuff is somewhat useful, other companies might just leave adwords on page 1, and move organic stuff to page 2.

  • spring break 2012 dates

    I think it’s a interesting way of approaching search but it definitely isn’t for all us. People who socialize often with eachother often also have VERY different interests. I don’t think this is something for me and most other people but maybe it will grow more popular over time.

  • roof edge protection

    Not a big fan of Google Plus myself just yet, but I suppose over time it will become more popular. It just seems to me that at the moment nothing can really beat Facebook (and Twitter), as they are so immensely popular all over the world.

  • arthisoft

    Google+ is only focused on Competing with facebook, in google+ there are no policy for content. I don’t like google+ more then Facebook.

  • yusi

    google+ needs so much time to catch facebook. In my opinion, advantage of the google is the search engine. If they combine plus and searching with some tricks maybe it works.

  • norwich web design

    google+ is the best .

  • Pingback: Google Search Plus Your World: ‘Beautiful Journey’ or Trainwreck in the Making? | Future Marketing()

  • Sebastian

    It’s been a while since G+ your world has been released and I’ve got to say it’s just irritating. Searches are being poisoned with random +’s and with the recent infiltration of Venice what little organic real estate is left is increasingly irrelevant. Sort it out Google.

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