Google Plus And the Future of Search

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Social Networking and SEO

As you may have heard, Google Plus, Google’s answer to Facebook, decided to start letting a select number of Brand Company’s register for their exclusive beta-trial version this week. Up until now they had wanted companies to stay out while they tested their new product with a select number of users.

It’s unclear if the reason for the change has to do with the popularity of the program or because some companies/brands like Ford and Mashable had already managed to create Google Plus profiles despite Google’s request they not do so. Regardless, it seems things are opening up quicker than expected—Google Plus is barely 2 weeks from launch.

What is Google Plus?

Just in case you haven’t heard, Google Plus is a social network like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn except that unlike these other social networking spaces Google creates privacy “Circles.” They call this “Google Plus Circles.”

The obvious read on this is that Google plus Circles is an answer to the privacy concerns around Facebook. Stories about employees getting fired over pictures or comments discovered on Facebook have now become fairly commonplace. Google Plus seems to be an answer to this oversharing, because it allows you to place different social connections into different categories (“circles”). So, if all goes well, your college professor will no longer be able to find out what you actually did the weekend before your Final essay was due just because you happened to friend each other earlier in the semester.

The real story, of course, is that Google—barely thirteen years old–seems to be looking over its shoulder at the new kids on the block: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

For those of us in Internet marketing, the further question is how to promote our business clients in this brave new world of social marketing. Up until now, SEO—Search Engine Optimization—has been the rule of the day. Through keyword optimization and link building you could increase traffic for your clients and help them reach their customers.

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The Future of Search

But what happens now as Google, and the Internet in its wake, becomes more social? The obvious answer of course, is that Social 2.0 Marketing is going to become far more important. How does this kind of social network centered marketing work? Well, in large part it involves actively taking part in as many discussions as possible so that people become aware of your business as a brand to be trusted.

So if you are selling a high tech digital camera, you not only create a website with E-Commerce capability and do all the usual SEO that you would normally do, but now you create profiles for you and perhaps for your company (and employees) on Facebook and Twitter and start talking up your product. This can’t of course, be just marketing pitches. You have to actually interact on a human level.

Next you join (and perhaps create) as many online conversations related to digital cameras and photography as possible. You talk up your site. You might even get a few professional social butterflies to talk up your site as well. The idea is to increase word-of-mouth—to get the message out and to do in as seemingly a natural and unpremeditated way as possible.

Will it replace search completely? Unlikely, but it will definitely become more and more a part of link building and site promotion and it may definitely decrease the importance of SEO. But much of what we are talking about here is already a part of link-building in its most natural form.

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Of course, search is still going to be needed in this. Even now, one of the best ways to keep up with current discussions is to sign up for Google Alerts so that you find out whenever someone starts an online discussion about your topic.

And guess how you sign up to find out about these discussions? You got it: through the keywords that tag the discussion. Do I hear the beginnings of SEO 2.0 ?

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