Well, Google has done it again. They have once again announced a major change in their search engine algorithms that will affect everyone that is involved in SEO in any way. Last year, Google’s ‘Panda’ update put all internet marketers on notice that they will not tolerate crap content that is poorly written, not relevant to the keyword term, and offers little or no value to the visitor. Since then, millions of sites have been pulled from Google’s top 10 rankings, costing some marketers their entire livelihoods.
This week, Google revealed that it intends to get much more personal with your search results. Going forward, when you do a Google search, you will not only get public search results from across the internet, you will also get content that has been privately shared among your social circle on Google + 1 (Google’s version of Facebook).
So what does this change mean? In my view, several things, but here are 5 of them:
1. Ranking in public search results are no longer sufficient to insure receiving all the targeted traffic your clients should be going after. For a while now, it’s been apparent that social media should play a larger role in your marketing strategy. This change solidifies this view and makes clear that if you’re not playing in the world of social media, you are going to be left behind.
2. EVERY business that wants to compete for targeted traffic online MUST build a Google +1 business page. This is no longer an option. If you want your content to start coming up in these personalized search results, you must have that Google+1 share button on your website. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on a whole bunch of targeted traffic in the future.
3. Google has clearly taken the gloves off in their battle with Facebook for social media dominance. Currently, Google +1 has between 60 and 80 million pages and growing, which is only about 10% of what Facebook has, so Facebook is still king. BUT, Google has already been flooding the airwaves with +1 ads to try to push their network into the mainstream. With this ‘personalized search’ change, they are literally forcing businesses to promote +1 on their websites, or be shut out of the ‘personal search’ SEO game. This means that in the next couple years, website visitors are going to be seeing that +1 button everywhere, which is bound to keep growing their network.
4. Google has become the dominant search engine by doing the best job of giving the searcher relevant results. With the personalized search, Google is gambling that users are going to love the new search results and encourage their friends and family to go on G+1. This is how they plan to overtake Facebook. And without having a search engine of their own, Facebook has no way to counter this by themselves. I predict that Facebook will respond by seeking an alliance with Yahoo/Bing to integrate Facebook personal results with these search engines.
5. Whoever ultimately prevails in the social media supremacy battle, this change presents some incredible opportunities for SEO consultants and writers. First of all, as I said in point #2, EVERY business needs a Google +1 page now, this is no longer optional. What’s more, MOST businesses don’t yet have one. Why? Because Google just started +1 pages for businesses in the summer of 2011, and only a few weeks ago starting allowing transfers of ownership on their business pages. Meaning that up until now, the only person able to set up a G+1 page was the actual business owner, and how many of them have the time or inclination to do it? Are you seeing dollar signs yet? So just offering a service to simply set up Google +1 pages for businesses could become a very lucrative enterprise.
Secondly, someone needs to manage those pages and keep them updated with quality content that can go out to their network of visitors who have “liked” their page. You think the owner has time to do that? In most cases no. And do you think the owner wants to hire some $5 an article third world writer to churn out crappy, spun content that’s going out directly to their network of potential customers? Well, if the owner values his/her reputation in the least, he/she will want to hire a quality writer to keep the content on these pages fresh and updated, knowing that this can now translate directly into greater targeted website traffic and higher sales.
So there you go. Google has changed the game again, and just as was the case with ‘Panda’ last Spring, this change can be highly favorable to SEO content writers that understand what it means and how to capitalize on it. So let’s get out there and take action! A world full of businesses are waiting for our help.