The news broke today that Google+ has now officially become available to everyone after a three month trial period by invite only.
Why are Google so keen to get into social media? Targeted advertising obviously, but also, to get you to log into Google so they can tailor organic results to you. Its nothing new to Google, but until now, your typical user has not had much cause to log in to Google unless they have a Gmail account or keep a close eye on their web page analytics.
With the rise of “Social Search” we can expect to see search results becoming far more tailored to the individual. What websites have you looked at recently? What businesses do you Like or Follow or +1? What have your friends been doing recently? Who do they work for? The more information they have about you and your “circles”, the more likely you will be to see results relating to them. If someone in one of your circles gives Ford Motor Company a +1 and you are searching for a new car, you will be more likely to see your local Ford dealership pop up in your search results if you are logged in to the Google+ social networking platform.
What does this mean for the individual? Time will tell if this is going to make search results more relevant for users. Social search has potential to make your little world a lot smaller. You will be more likely to buy the same t-shirt that your mate just bought online, and find your next door neighbour eating in the same restaurant as you when you are on holiday in the south of France.
What does this mean for business owners? If everyone is being served up different results for exactly the same search, Search Engine Optimisation is going to get a whole lot more difficult. It will be more important than ever for businesses to be active in social media circles, and the more popular you are, the more popular you may become. There is a huge opportunity for early adopters here, and a good social media strategy could mean a huge boost to your position in search results.
On that note, I recommend you go and create your Google+ account and give Webfirm a +1.
Image credit Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net on Flickr