I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours wrapping my arms around Google Search plus Your World. the fundamentals aren’t difficult to understand. In fact they are quite easy. What was perplexing me is how this impacts an organizations ability to effectively communicate to and persuade its customer base. Or, in a more dynamic environment, how to beat your competition.
A recent business insider article “Google plus is way bigger than we thought: it’s totally going to change how the web works” does an excellent job outlining Google’s new approach to search. Of everything covered what I consider to be the most important was “Forget SEO”. That short paragraph nailed the most critical element as it relates to business as usual.
They are correct when they say that suddenly the game of search engine optimization has totally changed. But we have keep in mind it changes only when people are searching on Google. Okay, so that is a huge percentage. But for those using google, how they are using it (logged in or not, logged into google Plus or not, logged into google plus and using Your World or not, etc. I suppose there is a baseline but we already know Google Plus is influencing this.
A few points:
We will see this system continue to invade our daily lives. Growth will be much like what we saw with Facebook and Twitter but here’s the rub – while users have to log into Facebook/Twitter, when it comes to Google we simply launch the internet and use their search engine.
We now have to look at SEO or the ability to get information in front of a person as a result of their search in a completely different light. We have to understand that it’s no longer a sterile environment which after certain amount of time we learn how to ultimately or somewhat work the system and moving search rankings to the top. There will be certain situations that we’re still able to do this but but an opposing proactive approach to leveraging Google plus suddenly creates challenging to compete – especially if you’re not willing to enter the field.
This means war!!! (perhaps hand to hand combat) - Let me present an example. Keep in mind Google plus is going to focus not necessarily on articles or websites but instead on the conversation surrounding those articles and websites. So let’s say, in an effort to support your client you create a website and then run commercials, create a facebook page, twitter account, etc. In a vaccume you could control your customer – they visit your site, engage on your facebook page, follow tweets, etc. But they aren’t in a vaccuume and sooner or later they will google your clients name or the topic related to the product offering. A few weeks ago, when they would Google the name up would pop the website or an article about the product. If you were quicker than your competition you could always stay one step ahead on these search results.
Move to today – if my client wants to compete with your client. We take a similar approach but focus instead on generating conversations through Google Plus. We include your website in a conversation or include key terms and it is likely that conversation is going to show in the search results. In some cases were already seeing that the conversation may actually rank higher than the website itself. I can only imagine that your client is going to be furious that after spending all the money to create a website and create commercial and all we did for our client was to create conversation.
1st PR is better equipped to leverage this approach. If we are doing our job well our focus isn’t to just promote or feed information, it’s to generate a conversation or even better, debate (remember, Google considers tone in search). This is what we (PR) are trained to do. When it comes to debate we aren’t only efficient but effective in this battle. No other industry is prepared to take on this challenge.
Before all you PR folks start high fiving each other – there are still a few challenges ahead. Debate is just one part. You have to understand how the fundamentals of search works. A one-size-fits-all is no longer effective and variables in play or possibly will affect the strategy and approach you take in any effort. This means feet on the ground and constant attention to what is taking place in real time. You can’t just wind this one up and let it go. This means more time spent on project and we are going to have to explain this to our clients. Just saying its part of the cost of doing business isn’t enough.
One last point – expect more change. Google’s objective is to provide their clients the search results they want (filter bubble anyone?. We are fighting against that. We want their clients to get the search results we want. Google will try to stay one step ahead. Not sure we can beat them – but we need to at least keep pace and be ready to turn on a dime again (and again and again).
I plan to continue editing this post (pardon any typos, moving fast today). Lots going through my mind and I’ve already stated a few experiments to see the true ramifications. Will keep you posted.