Note: this post was originally published on Next Digital a agency I used to work for but was deleted last year and only available in Google Cache. I thought I would bring it back as it was a good topic and it's been updated to reflect on 2012 instead of looking forward into 2012.Last year in 2012 SEO started off with a big shake up in a with Google kicking off the social media war with Facebook & Twitter by further extending its focus around its new social platform Google+. The key insight that is now better understood is how Google is using that information to transform and personalise your search results using your social signals signals from what your friends and family are sharing on Google+. But also they are further refining your search results based on your previous search behaviours more easily now because more and more people are remaining logged into Google.I think finally business have started to understand that as Google pushes further prominence on social media via Google+ and as Facebook passes 1,000,000,000 users with its partnership with Bing, it is really time to ensure you have a seat at the social table. Google and Bing use public signals such as ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ to understand the context of the content which is contained in its search index. This was further improved in September 2012 when Bing invested in Klout but also started to roll out Klout integrations into Bing results.Back in 2008 the importance for business was just having a social presence, but that has shifted today as your clients and consumers are looking to engage with you, therefore you need a social strategy rather than purely a social existence. I think 2011 was the tipping point when social provided significant branding and real revenue channels for businesses this was assisted with improved analytics and transparency around social channels.Due to Google’s continuous algorithm change with more focus being placed around AuthorRank, this has pushed forward the importance of your company/brand having a clear social agenda to ride the Google+ Social Search transformation. Back in 2012 when search plus your world was announced Google introduced 3 primary new features for users of Google:
- People and Page - Find social profiles and business Google+ pages within Google search results
- Profiles in Search - Find people you are connected to or might be similar with in Google search results
- Personal Search - Personalised user results and personalised results based on those in your network
As you can see in the screenshot above, the important change to understand for Brands and Products is that prominent Google+ pages will be offered in the suggested search results powered by Google knowledge graph. But as the audience expands Google+ results will start appearing right hand side of the search results page in the Knowledge box for more than just branded search queries. The Knowledge box will start to only feature the most prominent Google+ accounts around that topic or search query including leading experts, prominent authors and authoritative Google+ brand pages.The shift towards knowledge graph means that unless your company is active and engaging within Google+ and recognised as an trusted expert you are going to miss out vast amounts of referral website traffic from Google+. But also without a brand page or company spokesperson on Google+ you will miss starting potentially meaningful conversations with your consumers, growing new markets and even miss entire new audiences unless you are on Google+. If you don't try and build your audience now you may give your competitors too much of a lead in Google+ that you may never catch them...