It’s hard to believe that a company can make so many changes to its product lineup that news announcements become rather boring, but that’s becoming the case with Google. However, your company’s business success depends to a large extent on your website, and the largest source of traffic to your website will almost certainly be Google. Like it or not then, it would be fair to say that Google is your company’s most important salesman. And you need to know what your most important salesman is up to.
So it’s time to introduce the clumsily-titled “Search Plus Your World” …yet another major change to the way Google Search does business.
But first, let’s have a quick recap on the past few years at Google. Since 2005, certain results have had a ranking boost because Google reckons they’re more relevant to whoever is making the search. From that moment on, Google results pages started to vary from person to person. At first you had to opt in to this, but even that stopped in 2009, when everyone got “personalised” results, in varying degrees. About the same time, Google started to bring in “social search results”, which would boost the rankings of results somehow related to people you knew, initially content they’d created, and more recently, content they’d shared.
If you haven’t really noticed all of this, it’s possible that you’re not that “socially connected” online (and you might be glad of that), but it’s also testament to the fairly subtle way these changes have been made. The new “Search Plus Your World” presentation will be bringing all of this together, and should be equally unobtrusive, but will affect the rankings even further. So the results you see will now be comprised of items from Google’s traditional web search rankings; items boosted because of your personal behaviour; items boosted because of your social connections; public Google+ content which has connections to you; and private (Limited) Google+ content (which will only appear in the results of people allowed to see that content). If you’re wondering if there’s anything in these last categories which is of interest, when “Search Plus Your World” is live (and it may already be as you read this), there should be a link at the top of the page saying “12 personal results” as well as the normal “About 2,450,000 results” we’re all used to seeing.
So what does this all mean for the typical industrial or scientific company? If you have a Google+ business page for your company, or a personal profile, people will start to find it and add you to their circles. it doesn’t matter if you don’t think this is important; your customers might. Then, any material you put on your Google+ pages (including links), will have its profile raised in their Google results. Head over to this simple “how to” guide to create your company page. If you already have a general-purpose Google account for your company (such as one you’d use for Google Analytics), then sign in with that to join Google+, otherwise it might be time to create one. But try not to use a personal Google account, as the company page might well outlive your time there.