Google needs Google+ to work now more than ever

Google+ logoby Erik Baeumlisberger 2011-12-07

Today Danny Sullivan compared the +1 and Add to circles functions of Google+ to the Like and Follow functions of Facebook and Twitter. While a direct comparison does yield several anomalies, I think there is something else going on here.

Google wants to know more about you so it can radically alter the way it structures the SERPs.

It’s doing this in two ways:

  1. Google is asking: Is the content on this page relevant to you? If so, +1 it.
  2. Google is asking: Is the content on this site relevant to you? If so, Add to circles

While we, as an industry, can grab page one of Google for just about any search query, we will not be able to do so as reliably as we can today when (and if) Google achieves widespread adoption of personalized search.

Once the content in your SERPs is sculpted by not only your +1s and circles, but the +1s and circles of other Google+ users, its game over for link metrics.

Facebook and Twitter have TOTALLY different agendas than Google+, so comparing the way they measure and report likes, fans and followers and comparing that to Google+ is a bit off base. Google only mimics those systems because it has to.

Facebook and Twitter increase the value of their sites by encouraging users to stay on their platforms, while the (current) Google platform is designed to get you off (no pun intended) as quickly as possible.

Google also knows that people are consuming the content pushed to them (via Facebook and Twitter) at a more rapid rate then the content they actively have to go out and find themselves, so in the interest of serving content that’s both relevent and quick, they need to pull from their own database of social signals (Google+).

Can Google grow its Google+ user base and activity levels to the point where it can be used (reliably) to rank pages? That remains to be seen. My opinion is that they will do it and they will do it with mobile. How I think they’ll do it will have to be saved for another day.

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