Google+ Profiles topping SERPS: Making People Search More Prominent

We know that Google is pushing Google+ like no other. We also know that they are more and more focussed on person. Which means that on one side personalized search is playing a bigger role and on the other side they want to know more about us, to give us that personalized feeling. On top of that they all want us to use Google+.

Now that people search is something which search engines would dive on we already predicted a few years back. Back then we thought a specific profile page would show up at the top of the results, a page you could manage. I even adviced Bing to make such a page. But Google has beaten them on it. Google+ now is that page. Today I saw something which gets very close to what I predicted a few years ago. And the center of it all is Google+.

So what is going on? If you are logged in to Google you might get personalized results for people you search for. Today I searched for somebody I know in the SERPS and this result on the top:

If you look at this result you will see that it is Tamara’s Google+ page which gets a prominent place in the SERPS. The most prominent place: number one. And it is not “just” the Google+ page you see. Next to the fact it has a square around it, highlighting the result, it also has the latest updates from Tamara there, as well as in what primary circle I have put her in my Google+ Circles. Note that below that result is her own homepage.

The same happened when I searched for Joost de Valk:

Here you see something interesting happening. Joost shared a link to his website. That link is taken into the snippet of the Google+ page-result. So the links which you put in your Google+ updates might just show up in the SERPS if somebody within your circles is Googling you. The link is:


making that it will probably show up in Joost’s analytics as a link from Google, not Google+. It also shows his home adress at the top, something we noted before and is connected to the fact that I am logged in and connected to Joost.

Also note that below that result Joost his website is shown, just like with Tamara, but that in this case it ‘only’ has the sitelinks on one line, where if you search for Joost when not logged in his Google+ page shows up at spot 4, with ‘just’ the description, while his websites results have the ‘extensive’ sitelinks:

What does this mean?

So what does this mean? A few things.

It means first of all that if Google gets its way and we are all using Google+ and all have ‘circled’ everybody we will always be seeing the Google+ profile page of somebody we know on the top spot, pushing down the ‘personal’ websites of the person we are searching. Now that is not something everybody will appreciate, but it does show you should take a good look at your Google+ page.

Secondly it also means that if you put links in your updates they might show up in the SERPS if people are looking for you. Now that could mean you could spam the hell out of Google+, but the question is if that will work in the long run. The more interesting learning here is that it means that if other people put your links into their Google+ updates, your link might show up in other peoples search results when they are Googling somebody they know. Think about that…

Making your page shareable in Google+ therefore became a lot more interesting…

Finally, it is another indication of how Google is personalizing our experiences and at the same time is pushing Google+ immensely.

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

8 thoughts on “Google+ Profiles topping SERPS: Making People Search More Prominent

  1. I agree that Google+ profiles gain more visibility in SERP and it is very common to see one’s profile rank on the first page of search results. However, from my experience this only works for people who have limited amount of websites mentioning their name. For example, for a person with a fair amount of online publicity, the Google profile will only float between the second and third page. Google still favors older third party press and publication links if available, and ranks it over Google+. Another factor is of course how generic your name is.

    1. I am not sure if I understand you correctly. Are you saying that the more you are visible on the web, the less likely it is that your Google Profile will rank high? Because that wouldn’t make sense. Just look at the examples. Joost gets mentioned a lot and his site is very popular, still his Plus Page ranks one.

      Keep in mind, this is because I have him in my circles.

      1. Try someone with several mention in influential online publications. Forbes, BusinessInsider, WSJ, etc. They will always outrank G+. But G+ ranks over other social networks and blogs. This is just my observation as I am in reputation management field and wish it wasn’t the case.

    1. To be honest Barry, I think the opposote might happen, people might just be more triggered to use Google+ so they know they can rank with that, plus if you put links back to your site that shows up too…

      1. Yes but instead of getting people directly to your website, you’re sending them to Google+ in the hope that they will click on from there to your website. Personally, I think that’s messed up.

  2. I agree with Bas, I think Google has a tremendous amount of power to push users to it’s own properties, and you are seeing that with Google+. They are going to be a player in social even if by brute force, it’s going to work.

    They just announced Author Stats in GWT, and I think in 2012 we are going to see even more push toward an Author Rank as a signal in the SERPs.

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