While it may have seemed like any other day in the internet marketing world, Friday the 13th always makes some question what the day will bring. Naturally, some wondered where exactly the superstition began and one thing the date provided was a hot search trend. “Friday the 13th” ranked throughout the day on Google Trends.
Typically associated with odd occurrences, Friday the 13th ended a week that marketers will certainly remember for some time. On Tuesday, Google rolled out Search, plus Your World, which integrates users’ Google+ data into their unique search results. The merge of G+ with search is a move that many have been waiting for since Google launched its social platform in late June.
Search, plus Your World brings three social features to users. Personal results, which links users to content shared on their Google+ accounts and photos posted to Picasa, appear just above the usual search results on the SERP. Also, any images matching the search query will appear in the middle of the screen as part of Personal results.
Another feature highlighted in Google’s Inside Search blog is profiles in search, which essentially includes Google+ profiles in suggested results as users type terms into search bar. Users searching for a specific name will have Google+ profiles recommended to them as they type. The third addition comes in the form of people and pages, which designates the right sidebar of the page for any prominent profiles related to the search query. For example, a search for “music” resulted in Britney Spears, Jay-Z and other notable musicians, performers and entertainers showing up in the toolbar. This could ultimately prove a great brand discovery tool for businesses is brand pages start appearing next to industry searches (and Brafton has reported that 77 percent of the top U.S. brands have a Google+ presence).
For marketers, the SEO implications of Search, plus Your World could be significant. While the development does not alter the search rankings for “other results,” personalized results are prioritized according to users’ social content preferences. A presence on Google+ is now far more valuable as part of social media marketing campaigns, as content shared on the platform will appear on Google SERPs.
Naturally, some are speculating the potential effects of Search, plus Your World on the growth of Google+. As Brafton reported last week, the platform recently surpassed 62 million users, which led many marketers to consider making a move toward building up their corporate profiles.
However, Brafton highlighted a survey from AYTM Market Research, which found mixed results from consumers regarding Google+ and SPYW. Forty-five percent of respondents said they did not like their social activity factoring into their search results. Forty-four percent reported that Search, plus Your World still did not provide the impetus to create a Google+ account. Of those participating in the survey, 20 percent said they have an account but do not use it frequently.
It almost seems inevitable, though, that users will adjust and make the move to Google+, based solely on Google’s dominance in the search market. Brafton reported on Wednesday that monthly search figures from comScore pegged Google’s market share at more than 65 percent. Bing and Yahoo combined totaled less then 30 percent of the market.
While users get used to acquainted with Search, plus Your World, Google is still not finished with its roll out. Brafton found on Friday that Google Apps users are not still not seeing the features. For marketers, this likely means they still have some time to decide, but it may soon be true that both search marketing and social media marketing need to be tailored to Google users.
This social search development likely comes at a good time for most marketers, as the young year means many are still finalizing their plans for 2012. Brafton reported on Thursday that social media marketing is a high priority for 70 percent of businesses. As these companies also look to improve their content marketing and SEO capability, social sharing has benefits on many levels. The inbound links gained from posting on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ improve search standing, while the same sharing practices will bring engaging content to fans and followers, alike. Software provider Awareness also found that businesses using social media marketing are likely to expand their investments this year, as the most experienced businesses perfect their social deployments.
Deciding how much effort and financial investment will go toward each social platform can be difficult. However, Brafton reported on Thursday that Facebook’s continued growth may mean more attention for the channel leader. ICrossing predicts that Facebook will likely surpass 1 billion users in August 2012.
As more profiles appear on social networks, marketing opportunities grow, but some undesirable users are inevitably also springing up. Brafton reported on Monday that spam levels on social networks are reaching cyber epidemic levels. The Wall Street Journal suggests that certain practices on Facebook and Twitter are more popular among cyber criminals, namely Like-jacking and phony giveaways. While both companies are working aggressively to eliminate threats they come across, the bad guys, as is typically the case on the web, are a step ahead.
For marketers, frequent monitoring of account activity and some precautions, such as frequent password changes, can help prevent anyone from stealing account data and potentially hurting reputation with fans and followers. Additionally, businesses should think more carefully about what they share to be sure they set their companies’ content apart from the social spam. Direct engagement with specific followers might be one way to demonstrate that accounts are legitimate, and it also shows that user relevance is important to a brand.
Brafton reported on Monday that 49 percent of survey respondents would not consider doing business with company if a question posed on a social network was not answered. Conversocial found that both consumers and B2B buyers view social as a chance to speak directly to a company, and marketers who ignore these iteration opportunities could effectively send their prospects elsewhere.
Simply responding may not be enough, though. Considering a target audience goes a long way in directing the tone and content of a response. Brafton reported on Tuesday that 26 percent of respondents enjoy when a business shows some personality in its social engagement. The study, conducted by AYTM Market Research, said that sometimes, a highly professional tone is critical, but thinking about the people reading Tweets and Facebook content and what they want to see will make a campaign more effective..
Google’s move this week will inevitably change web marketing. As next week progresses, we’ll hear more from their competitors in search and social regarding Search, plus Your World and what it means for the web. While Twitter has thrown a few thoughts out there, Facebook and Bing haven’t responded just yet.
And we don’t expect that to last too long.