01/11/2012  |  Posted By:

Yesterday Google deployed its latest search results feature: Search plus Your World. Now, when users perform a search on Google, related photos, posts and more from their connections are included in what Google is terming “personal results.”

It’s a tweak that’s sparked some controversy, and potential anti-trust issues. While time will tell what regulators think, Google search is clearly giving preference to Google+. Want people to find your content? Then you can either wait for regulators to take action OR you can make sure you take advantage of this change.

Now, each time a user searches for, say, a keyword related to one of the health issues your organization focuses on, she will be more likely to see your content if one of her connections has commented or shared it.

So how can you make the most of this new feature?

First (if you have not done so already), create a Google+ Page for your organization (see our tips for the New Year). If your organization is a non-profit, there are some great tips from Nonprofit Tech 2.0.

Second, there are two critical steps you should encourage your stakeholders (supporters, customers, employees, friends, etc,) to take right away:

  1. Link Your Social Media Accounts to Your Google+ or Profile Page
    While some critics point out that Google favors posts from its own network, it does allow users to connect their profiles so their social networking on other sites impact search. All users have to do is create an account on Google+ and then add “Other profile” links to their About page. (To do this, click your photo or name on the left side, click “Edit Profile” in the upper right and add your sites where you see “Other profiles” on the right.) You can also create a Google profile without joining Google+: https://profiles.google.com/.

    An example: Let’s say your supporter shares a page on Google+. Even if their friends are not using Google+, your content will show up higher in Google search results if your supporter friends are following their linked accounts.

    Thus, when your supporters link all of their social media platforms, they are optimizing your chances of being found in search results.
  2. Encourage Interaction from Your Connections
    Google’s algorithm has been evolving quickly - this past fall, timeliness of content joined authority as search criteria. For example, if you searched for election coverage, a major newspaper’s website with an article posted an hour ago would likely show up as the first result. Now with Search plus Your World, personal connections have become the third arm of search results.

    This means that encouraging your connections to like, retweet, or “+ 1” your content is more important than ever. If you want your content to rank higher than someone else’s, it’s now important that a searcher’s connections from Google+, Twitter or Facebook have also viewed your content and deemed it relevant.

    Not only will they be increasing your content’s SEO overall, but they will also be increasing its relevancy to those closest to them.

It will be interesting to watch how connections impact and shift search results in the coming weeks. I suspect it will be a lot like the friends in the Fabergé Organics commercial - as your connections interact with your content and their connections interact with them, more interactions mean better search results for your organization. And so on, and so on.