A couple of weeks ago, Google caused a big hub-bub when it launched Search Plus Your World (“SPEW” for short), the catchy-titled deep integration of Google Plus and Google’s organic Web results. Naturally as soon as that happened, many of my clients, big and small, called to get some perspective on what this might mean for them.
For those of us who have far-flung social networks, the impact on local queries will likely be small as there will not be enough truly local social network content to populate queries outside of some top categories such as restaurants and events.
If the current experience is any indication, I would say Google’s Panda algorithm should eventually purge many of these results as they will not generate decent click-through.
For example, here are some page one results for me when I search Chinese Restaurants:
If anything, these kinds of results might make me delete some of these guys from my Google+ network, just to avoid them polluting my results.
Of course, many people could have tight local social networks so they might get better results, but again, probably not outside of some key categories.
One of the big differences between Google’s approach to social and Facebook’s is that Facebook started with people first. Google tried starting with people, but the SPEW strategy seems pretty targeted at getting businesses to do the hard work of priming the social net. And therein lies opportunity.
While there are plenty of exhibitionists among us, I am not sure the idea of having your Google+ posts show up in Google SERPs is much of an incentive to get people to socialize on Google+.
That said, it’s a huge incentive for businesses. So get ready for some aggressive social local networking from your friendly local service providers. Some predictions:
1. Local directories will start working hard for your +1′s Google Places has shifted a large amount of organic traffic from local directory sites to Place Pages. Up until Search Plus Your World, there was no decent way for directories to get around Places. But now, they just need you to +1 them and/or connect with you on G+ and their relevant content should start showing up high in local results.
This is going to lead to +1 promotions similar to how companies advertise “like me on Facebook” campaigns. Perhaps we might even see some “Like Plus me dude” campaigns.
2. Local businesses will start working hard for your +1′s SMBs will be able to play this game too. If +1′s and G+ connections improve Places rankings we are quickly going to see an entire economy built around local social business networking. In fact, people with strong local G+ networks could easily get a business to pay them in exchange for connecting with them on G+.
3. Google+ connections are going to become the new links
Where Google has frowned on “link schemes” to game rankings, I don’t see how it can control social promotion schemes. If I want to compensate you for connecting with me on G+ and mentioning my service, how can Google tell?
This system could put an unusual amount of power in the hands of those who have strong local social networks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of local entrepreneurs take advantage of this.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.