Yeah, okay, fine. So, just like the rest of the world, you want to know about Google+.
Actually if you’re like most of us around here, one of the last things in the world you’d like to know about is Google+. One more aggravation, one more irritation, one more roadblock, one more impediment, one more — to put it like it really is — potential train wreck on the way to getting and maintaining a decent return position for your website.
Unfortunately, staying ignorant about Google+ is not an option. The inescapable truth is that Google is the big bad (or good, depending upon your current return position) guerrilla in the e-commerce neck of the woods and pretending to be deaf, dumb and blind about the gorilla’s latest products and strategies and algorithms and mental state can be exceedingly hazardous to the state of one’s financial health.
So let’s start by asking and attempting to answer a few questions about Google+? Is it eventually going to toss Facebook and Twitter under the bus the way it did Yahoo, Lycos , Northern Lights, MSM , etc. and ad nauseam ? Not a chance. Not this time.
Facebook in its own way is a phenom and in its own heavily fortified space in the cyber universe every bit as powerful as Google is in the world of search engines. Google+ has nothing to really challenge Facebook with and probably never will.
This state of affairs is undoubtedly depressing to Larry Page. Doubly depressing, when he was listening to the baying of all the witless financial analysts pretending to believe that the sky was falling because Google racked up a “mere” $2.9 billion in profits for Q4 2011. Disturbing as the facts may be to Mr. Page, however, facts are facts. Confronted with Facebook’s ascendancy during the latter half of the past century, Google — to sum up its reaction in three words — did a Yahoo.
As we all remember, Yahoo was fast asleep at the switch when Google started roaring down the line at the turn-of-the-century. Google, rather amazingly, was asleep at the exact same switch when Facebook began its move. Yahoo woke up way too late to contest Google for search engine supremacy and Google has awakened to late to seriously challenge Facebook. In both cases the battles had been waged and lost before the losers even realized they were in a fight.
Since nothing in the world of business is impossible, Google may somehow, someday be able to wrest the social networking crown from Facebook’s head. But from today’s vantage point, it’s hard to see how that could happen unless Facebook made some kind of catastrophic misstep. Something on the other of a massive security lapse that resulted in a few hundred million of its user profiles winding up on Wikileaks . Could happen, but it’s not likely.
Twitter, is another story. It has a tremendous network and a great deal of power. The political upheaval in Egypt that led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak was largely coordinated via tweets between various geographically scattered groups of dissidents.
On the other hand, Twitter has very limited cash flow and earnings. Edison Research analyst Tom Webster’s description of Twitter as a “company that raises mountains of cash but makes less money than a twelve year-old with a paper route” is exaggerated but essentially true. Especially when Twitter’s financials are stacked next to Google’s and Facebook’s. And while venture capital is a beautiful thing, there inevitably comes a day when investors becoming exceedingly restless if the aren’t seeing any return on their investment. So Twitter, unless and until, it figures out a better way to monetize its service will to one extent or another be vulnerable to an attack from a determined adversary as well heeled as Google.
Reprehensible or not, the current strategy has already, Google claims, harvested more 100 million Google+ members. Whether or not a substantial number of those shanghaied into signing up for Google+ ever use the service or even remember that they have an account on once signed up for it is an open question, but given the size of and growth rate of the user base Google+ is eventually going to be hosting billions of posts.
Which brings us to what, if this were a movie, could be titled “Nightmare in Menlo Park, Part 17: Google Search+Your World” (GS+ YW ), the successor to Google Social Search. Still in its infancy, GS+ YW seems, on its surface, benign enough. In fact, Google is e-papering the web with scores, if not hundreds, of pages telling us exactly how benign it is. How it is not an invasion of privacy. How it is easy to disable. How effectively you’ll be protected against having your posts turning up in global search returns.
To loosely paraphrase Shakespeare, it does appear to that Google may be overly protesting the assertion that GS+ YW may grow to be not quite as innocuous as claimed.
Theoretically, it works like this?
1. You log into your Google account to send an email or any one of a hundred other Googlie things. This automatically logs you into you Google+ account.
2. At some point or other you “Google” washing machines.
3. If anyone in your G+ circle has posted something about washing machines — say their love affair with a new Maytag — that post is returned as the first hit for your query.
Not so terrible, really, all the normal natural returns for washing machines lose only one return position. The possibility of the return positions get seriously tweaked by a dozen or more members of your circle writing washing machine posts at roughly the same time is slim to none.
The Catch 22 is a loophole called “public” posting. About which Google says:
Content in these (GS+ YW ) search results is public on the web. Public content may appear in the search results of ANYONE if it’s relevant to their search.
Now that special, isn’t it? Every Friday washing machine manufacturers and major vendors can give all their employees a 15 minute break open their Google+ accounts and tap out public post about washing machines.
What a lovely post-Christmas gift to all the webmasters who’ve sweated , struggled, and spent time and money to optimize their sites to appear somewhere on the first five or even 10 Google return pages. Give GS+ YW a year or so to shed its training wheels and all those return pages are likely to be buried behind multiple pages full of GS+ YW public posts.
Can operators of web-based small businesses do anything to mitigate or evade negative fallout from Google+ Your World? Probably. Since every action inevitably triggers a reaction, strategies to thwart GS+ YW will probably emerge once G+ emerges from gets the incubator and can be seen more clearly.
While we’re all waiting, we’d like to suggest that you put max effort into growing and strengthening your linking presence, preferably by taking advantage of LinksManager or ManagedLinkBuilding . Because whatever the post Google+ world holds, it’s pretty obvious that increasing your volume of non-search-engine based traffic is going to become more important than ever.