This article was originally written for Affiliates4U. The last few months have been crazy if you are a ‘Google watcher’, somebody who follows what Google and the other search engines are up to. Google has been ‘under siege’ on several occasions. Most of the time they themselves were to blame. In between a lot of little things which changed one thing was rolled out which we had seen coming ever since Google+ made its entrance, different articles we wrote at State of Search all saw Google heading this way. This change however will significantly change the way we search and the way we as website owners work: Google Search Plus Your World. Google Search Plus Your World (SPYW) was launched a few months ago on the Google.com properties. If you go to Google.com and log in you might just see a whole different world: your world. Google has started to integrate “social” results into the search results. At the moment these are social results coming only through Google properties (there’s one of the ‘sieges’ right there: promoting only their own content), like Google+ or Blogger for example. Mixed in with the regular search results you will see results that are ‘promoted’ in your social circle. You will see that people you know have shared that specific piece of content on social properties from Google or that they are the authors of that specific piece of content. Now in some cases, and at the moment that will be in most cases, the ‘shared’ result would probably also have been there if nobody would have shared it. But there might also be results who would not have been there if it wasn’t for your personal profile. And we will see a lot more of these in the future.
Now, its personal
What Google has done is personalize the Google results in an extensive way. Don’t be fooled though: they have been doing that for a few years, they just have extended this in a big way. This means that rankings must be seen in an entirely different way. Two people doing the same search might see entire different results. But more importantly: they will be seeing people they trust as either author or the one sharing the content.
This trust-factor is very important. Why? Take a look at yourself: if you go and eat in a specific restaurants, what are the odds you will go and eat there because somebody you said it was a good place to eat was pretty high. People tend to trust what the people around them are saying. Now if those people were to show up in the search results, ‘promoting’ a specific result, what do you think people will click on..?
So what does this mean website owners? It means that Google has added another factor, next to the ‘regular’ ranking factors: authority. Because of authority two things will happen: results might get a higher position in the rankings. In some cases that might be a few spots, but in some cases you could get a specific page ranking on the first page where it normally ranks on say page 50 or so.
Google pushing Authority
What we are seeing is that Google is pushing on authority in the SERPS a lot. There is a few different ways in which Google pushes the social authority here. First there is the “People and Pages” related to the search term in the sidebar. This is a direct link to Google+. Then there is the “shared by” links below posts from people within your social circle, and thirdly Google is playing with their Google suggest options by suggesting names of people you might know when you start typing. The most important one however is the Author-authority.If you do a search on a topic you are usually active on and you know other people around you are also, you will see people recommending results and you will see all sorts of author information: The author information which is shown here has multiple ‘triggers’. There is the image of the author, the name of the author with a link to his or her Google+ Page. There is metainformation about the social strength of the author (in how many circles is he or she listed), and there is a link to more results from that specific author. All of this can be triggered by implementing the “rel=author” to your pages. Be aware though: the actual implementation on that is simple, but getting it to work is a bit harder, since its Google who decides whether or not you get this kind of visibility. Authority and personalization will play a role in several ways, take for example how Google has altered Google Suggest to now also suggest people in your network when you start typing.
So what to do?
So great, personalization. Something an affiliate will not like very much. In talks I’ve done over the past few weeks about this topic I’ve had people ask me several times if they should be optimizing their own profiles so they could push their sites and products that way. The remark which always came with that was “I don’t want that, because I don’t want my personal profile to be connected to my (one of my ) business profile(s).
It is not just about your own profile
Yes, your own profile can help. But the profiles you should be looking for are the people who already have a higher authority in your niche. Those that already show up in the SERPS. You need to find people who will recommend your sites to their networks. That is what will show up in the SERPS of your potential visitors. You have to use social media, and Google+ in particular, to get your message spread. Because once it gets spread, it gets picked up by Google and it will show in the SERPS. But you have to use Social Media not as a megaphone, but as a tool to actually spread your message. Figure out what kind of stuff which is related to your business people would like to share with their friends and work on that.