For a long time now Google has been trying to make a splash within the social arena to both steal some of Facebook and Twitter’s thunder, and to gain access to a goldmine of data with which to evolve it’s search algorithm. Only last year we were confronted with Google Buzz and the Twitter deal, giving Google access to the social holy grail - the Twitter fire hose.
While Buzz wasn’t a bad initial attempt, the reception was lukewarm and since the Twitter deal ended earlier this month, Google still has a massive social hole to fill. Welcome Google+ (Plus).
Launched as an invite-only beta test on 28 June (five days before the Twitter deal ended), Google+ offers all of the Buzz functionality and a whole lot more. Circles allow you to put your friends into groups, allowing you to focus who you are sharing too. Sparks allow you to follow topics of interest and engage with them directly. Hangouts and Huddles allow you to easily set up instant meetings and collaborations. Google Profiles are fully integrated into Google+ as is the Google +1 recommendation system.
All in all Google+ is a solid offering which does address some of the shortcomings of Twitter and Facebook; this is reflected in the fact that in just over two weeks, Google+ is reported to have amassed 10 million users. While still small in terms of Twitter (300 million users) and Facebook (750 million users), you have to remember this is still an invite-only beta. Google+ is going to be big.
If this alone is not enough of a reason to take Google+ seriously, you have to remember Google’s desire to use social data to complement it’s ageing PageRank formula. Previously we could see Facebook and Twitter data having a minor correlation to rankings but this seems to have been toned down recently leaving no doubt that Google have set their sights on Google+ and Google +1 providing all the social data they need.
With Google set to launch a test of business profiles for Google+ shortly and Google +1 integration on the rise. Now is the time for business to start expanding their social strategies to incorporate Google+. Get Google +1 buttons on your site and get ready to move quickly when business profiles launch.
On a different note, 16 June saw the latest iteration of Google Panda go live. Panda 2.2 has gone some way toward addressing the previously seen problems with Google identifying the original author of a piece of content. The fix for Google Panda remains the same (improve the quality of your site throughout), but at least it should be more straight forward with Panda 2.2.
Any questions or comments? - @SEOMalc