Changes to Google Search Could Give Google+ an Edge

Changes to the world’s most popular search engine could have marketers re-thinking, or at least expanding, their social media strategy. Company Facebook pages are widely considered to be the secondary branded destination outside of company websites, but new Google search features could challenge that trend.

Google+ content will now surface more prominently in Google web search results as the +1 button is now a factor in Google’s search algorithm. Google+ users who are logged-in will now see Google+ content among the normal search results, and also see featured Google+ profiles and pages, much like Facebook’s sponsored stories and ads.

While Google+ recently reached 62 million users, it’s believed activity and engagement has been slow to pick up since the platform launched in June 2011. However, the new search features can create a great scenario for Google+ to help boost the number of active users and amount of engagement.

Google+ brand pages were introduced in November 2011, but now, brands have more incentive to be active on Google+ as more engagement can help boost their Google search results. But to have more engagement, brands need their consumers to be active on the platform. This gives brands reason to promote Google+ to their consumers. As more brands promote Google+, there is likely to be much more buzz about the social network, which could lead to more users and activity.

So what does this all mean? With more than 800 million active users, Facebook still seems to have the advantage, at least from a numbers perspective. But will marketers jump on the opportunity to boost search results by driving consumers to Google+? Will we see brands shift from “Like us on Facebook” to “Add us to your circles?” And if brands shift focus, will the consumers follow suit? It will be interesting to see how this situation develops, and how it, or if, it will affect our social media habits.

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