Google brings ‘word of mouth’ to web search
For a long time, Google search results have been localised, meaning we see the local results of our search first. Now Google is extending this to make search results more tailored for each individual.
The introduction of Google+ and “Search plus Your World” is the start of a shift from traditional keyword search to social search. Google + information from the social network has featured in Google searches since January this year. This means, amongst other things, that people who search for your company could be shown your G+ page alongside other results, making it easier for them to connect with you.
However, Google+’s main influence over search results comes from prioritising word-of-mouth recommendations. People have long relied on word of mouth advice when considering whether to buy a product or service. A recommendation increases the likelihood that someone will read/ buy/ visit something if it comes from a trusted source (a friend, acquaintance or authoritative publication). As the world moves online, it’s only natural that this behaviour does too. Google have obliged, showing people things that their friends and networks have recommended (+1’d or shared) when they search and therefore increasing the chance that they’ll click on them.
So, what does this mean for business? If you’re looking for a new mechanical component, not only can you write a post asking a particular circle of contacts (for instance mechanical engineers) for advice but you can also see which product those people may have recommended when you search for it in Google (provided you’re signed in to G+).
When you search for information on Google, it will not only include content from people in your circles, it will also display content from people that it thinks are experts in the field based upon their following. As you can see from the screenshot, this content will have a picture alongside and the number of followers they have. These undoubtedly make you more likely to click on their content. If 100,371 people have him in their circles, they can’t all be wrong surely? And hence, followers encourage more followers.
This ability to identify experts and key influencers is great if you or your company are new to G+ as a way of expanding your relevant network and seeing what content is getting people in your circles noticed.
On the flip side, if you keep writing relevant and niche content and sharing that content on Google+ then ultimately it will end up being displayed to people searching in Google search plus your world (i.e. people logged into G+) allowing them to find you and follow you. It provides an alternative to relying on keyword SEO to bump your content up the rankings. Your content and its relevance become paramount, not the amount of SEO keywords you can cram in, meaning that your readers are more likely to be interested and satisfied with what they read and therefore more likely to recommend it and follow you. In time, you might be that influential expert with 100,371 followers and your content at the top of Google search, dissipating ideas through word of mouth.
The benefits of keeping up with Google+ and Search, plus Your World are clear. As ever, content is king. Tailoring your content for your target audience will make them more likely to act on it, share it and recommend you; increasing both your rankings on Google and your reputation through word of mouth.