Dating back to 2003 when the company first bought Blogger, Google has had a long history of social media. Some ventures have been successful, such as YouTube. While other products, such as Google Wave, have not been as successful. With their latest release, Google+, Google is hoping that this attempt at social media is its most successful project yet.
This raises some important questions: Do we really need another social network, or does Google need us to need one? And why is Google so fascinated with entering the social media space? After all, isn’t Google a search company?
Here are some answers.
Google’s goal has always been to provide the most relevant search results. Initially, Google used metadata, then onsite content and eventually link popularity to achieve this goal. Now with the advent of Google+ and the +1 button, Google is relying on the power of crowdsourcing and social media to improve relevancy. What better way to improve relevancy than to have people actually vote for what they find relevant?
Is every “vote” equal? No. The more followers you have the more your vote counts, especially if your followers are following you because they consider you an expert in your field and the item you are +1’ing.
By understanding what you like, Google can provide a more personalized search experience. What ranks number one for you may be totally different for someone else based on your interests and the people in your Google+ Circles. The personal data Google collects helps improve the relevancy of every search.
For example, based on the search engine optimization articles that I +1 and the other search engine marketers that are in my Circles, when I search for “SEO”, I will receive results related to search engine optimization. However, someone who is an environmental consultant and who has a completely different set of Circles may search for “SEO” and receive results for sewage enforcement officers.
Improved advertising targeting
Better relevancy equals better search results. Better search results equals more searches. More searches means more exposure to Google’s advertising. And more advertising exposure means more money for Google.
Starting to make sense now?
As a search marketer, one thing that I’m really excited about is the level of targeting we’ll have in the future. Beyond targeting search keywords and geographic location, we’ll have the ability to target individuals based on their demographics and behaviors. Targeting that was once reserved for social networks like Facebook can now be applied to Google’s search results.
Google+ will allow its users to communicate and share information via other Google products. You will have the ability to share and collaborate on Google documents, share screens via Screensharing and post photos from Picasa. You’ll be able to schedule events through Google Calendar, receive email notifications via Gmail, broadcast live events from YouTube, review or check into a Google Place and have a face-to-face conversation via Hangout from your Google Android mobile phone.
What’s your life without your smart phone? The mobile application for Google+ is another way that Google can be with you everywhere you go. Google will be readily accessible to help you search for products and places on the go. And once you find what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to share it with your followers and the world via Google+. You’ll also be able to search for reviews and recommendations from your friends before you buy, making local search advertising even more important.
Google+ Final Thoughts
Ultimately, Google is aiming to make search an integral part of our everyday life. People will search more if they have access to relevant, personal results wherever they are. What better way to do this than to develop a social network? Now you can see why Google is fascinated with the social experience and why they’re hoping Google+ is the answer.