The thing we’ve always liked about social networking is that it engages users in a way that many other mediums do not. The opportunity to establish or fortify a relationship with a customer on a platform they place value in is too good to pass up. But with Google’s latest G+ maneuver, we have to consider social participation for reasons very different than natural engagement.
We all know the shorthand on Google+ by now – Google’s trying to overcome an inactive user base by exploiting their various business and advertising resources. Starting with the inclusion of G+ results in search in Search Plus Your World and followed by Google+ Local taking over for Google Places, Google’s realizing that if you can’t lead a horse to water, you can try to prod him over there with something sharp. That sharp object is search results, with the thinking being that if businesses believe that G+ participation will improve search ranking, then they’ll flock to create G+ content, and if they create, active users will follow.
The latest step is Google’s announcement that you can now share search results from the main SERP to G+. This will certainly be used a search ranking signal, and just as the opportunity to interact with an engaged audience via Facebook is too good to pass up, the opportunity to “interact” with the search algorithm by showing off your shares is too good to pass up.
I don’t mean to suggest this will replace the traditional organic signals by any means. Content is still king and quality link-building will remain as important as ever. But if Google’s ranking you, and you have the chance to show social relevance through their SERP, don’t you think that has to count for something?
The new feature sounds awfully easy to game, as you don’t even have to actually click on the link to share it, and that may diminish the signal value somewhat. But still, this bears watching, and it’s another reason that even though G+ doesn’t have the engagement we all love about social networks, it demands your attention and efforts for its tactical value.