Those who choose not to take part in Google's social network, or don't throw a lot of attention its way, could be knocked back by those who invest seriously in Google+.
If you haven’t reserved a Google+ page for your business, band, or improvisational comedy troupe by now, I’ll give you three good reasons to do so. They’re the first, second, and third search results in Google for you and your things, with or without Google+ results factored in.
Okay, so that’s technically six results, but bear with me - this is important. Google Search, Plus Your World is automatically enabled for Google users who are logged in, and who have any kind of Google+ presence at all. Mark Kaelin previously explained the big shift in Google’s search and social strategies, but it’s become even more clear, with some time and a lot of searching, how big Google’s big Google+ move really is.
John Battelle offers a fascinating take on what it feels like to be boxed in by Google+ at a branded entity. You need to read the whole thing, but if you’re reading it later, the gist is that people and organizations now have no choice but to maintain their Google+ presence, with the same kind of robust linking and content generation necessary for any aspiring web site, or be, in effect, penalized. Penalized because users logged into Google or a Google Apps account will see results from Google+ high up in their results, and if a person or organization aren’t navigating that topic on Google+, someone else gets the attention and clicks.
In Pod Form
Battelle and his Search Blog are a fairly established presence on the web. So how does Google+ integration shake out for a brand trying to make its name and get seen? I gave the newly social Google results a run-through with my fledgling personal podcast project, In Pod Form. When I search Google while logged into my personal Google+ account, which I used to create a Google+ “Page” for In Pod Form, I get this:
The first thing under my actual query is a linked note that “40 personal results” exist for this search, along with 276 million others. Below that is a prominent, well-crawled index for the show’s main web site, and that’s great. Below that is the Google+ result for the show, with a good bit of metadata about who might have +1’d it or shared it on Google+. Even though I created the In Pod Form Google+ Page, I search In Pod Form while logged into a few different Google+ accounts and found the same results.
Log out of Google, search “In Pod Form” (without quotes), and the first result is the same. But the second result is a U.S. military site (actually the Pacific Ocean Division, POD, of the Army Corps of Engineers).
That Google+ result that showed up in the logged-in results is nowhere on the first page of results when you’re logged in. And In Pod Form’s Google+ page only has around 20 people who have added it to circles or given it a complimentary +1 - not exactly a factor demanding placement at number two with a bullet.
There are, of course, alternatives to Google. So I searched In Pod Form on Duck Duck Go for a comparison, and, lo and behold, the results are very similar to Google’s non-Plus results. The iTunes link moves up one notch, but other than that, they’re almost identical, Army Corps and all.
Search Engine Land has a few more logged-in-versus-out examples of search alterations. The point is, those who choose not to take part in Google’s social network, or don’t throw a lot of attention its way, could likely be knocked back by those who invest seriously in Google+. Even Google’s own employees are possibly leveraged by how far Google+ spreads. It’s a brave new world Google is entering, and they aren’t just casually asking you to join them.