Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Google Plus, Top 10

Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus

Everyone’s all abuzz and atwitter about Plus, the new social network from a search engine company with which you might be familiar.

I won’t break down all the features and how-tos and what-ifs, as other folks are better at that, including  Jason Falls and Chris Brogan.

My initial, abbreviated take is that Google’s new social toy is essentially a Facebook Twitter hybrid with outstanding ease-of-use and eye-popping potential. In the very first release, Plus has a killer integration with Picasa (Google’s photo service), and its live video chat feature (called Hangout) could very easily become a Skype killer. The most obvious and ballyhooed functionality is the Circles paradigm, which puts segmenting your contacts front-and-center and makes it an easy process via drag and drop controls. No slaving over list creation (Twitter), or slogging through the mine field of clicks and sketchy instructions for creating your own groups (Facebook). Plus makes it exceedingly simple to put your friends in one category, your co-workers in another, etc. Already, some early Google Plus users have created 20 or more Circles to categorize their online relationships. Publishing your status updates, photos, videos, et al to one or more of these Circles is a one-click exercise in simplicity.

But enough about that. You’ll be playing with it yourself soon enough, and drawing your own conclusions about how Google Plus fits your own idea of social connectivity. I instead want to focus here on when Google Plus/Google + (jury is still out it seems) will become viable for company usage, and how it might impact Twitter and Facebook social outposts.

Kissing Cousins: Search and Social Media

Categorizing and cataloguing the vast World Wide Web has been the white whale of computer scientists for decades. Google has cracked this code the best – at least in commercial terms – and they continue to tweak their search algorithm daily, with major updates several times each year. However, even though Google is pretty damn good at figuring out what’s good and what’s less so on the Web, their entire outlook historically been rooted in two key components: the page and the link.

Pages have been the basic building blocks of the Web since the advent of HTML, and sending out armies of robots to read and sort them accurately is an overlooked but incredibly important element of daily online life – like electricity or LOLcats. Long ago, search engines recognized that any idiot could write “discount auto parts” 37 times on a Web page, and try to get ranked #1. Thus, in addition to thousands of other improvements to the ranking mechanism, Google devised its PageRank formula that uses the number, type, and reputation of other Pages that link to your own as a major ranking factor.

SEOMOZ SEO Ranking Factors

SEOMOZ SEO Ranking Factors

At that point, search engine optimization coalesced to become a form of geek chess, where SEO pros compete daily against Google’s own stable of geeks, playing a high stakes game of loophole discovery, exploitation, and elimination. It’s like Spock playing 3D chess, but with Red Bull and multiple monitors. The game is about getting your Pages ranked based on the words they contain and the other Pages that link to them.


And this made sense for about a decade. A lot of sense. Amazingly, Google made hundreds of billions of dollars by charging people to circumvent its own technology, charging a fee to put your Pages first (or adjacent), even if they didn’t deserve it based on the ranking formula.

But when social media soared, and we discovered our deep and near-universal desire to combat an increasingly fractured society by sharing tiny snippets of our lives, the notion of the Page and Link being the coin of the realm started to feel as quaint as a car hop.

Today, far more status updates, photos, videos and other social flotsam and jetsam are published and shared than fully formed Web pages. That’s because content creation is now about  small stuff, not big stuff, which makes it is no longer a commercial enterprise, but a personal one. I started online in 1994, and while there were certainly millions of personal Web page creators on AngelFire, Tripod, AOL and other early Web publishing venues that were the cro-magnon precursors of WordPress, the number of netizens using these tools was exceedingly small compared to today’s 73% of Americans with an Internet connection who visit Facebook each month (Comscore).

And that huge shift away from Pages and toward smaller pieces of sharable content (“Edges” in Facebook’s parlance) created a major problem for Google, whose empire is built on the primacy of the page, and the latticework of connections between them.

PageRank was devised to provide for Google users the best possible search engine results. Philosophically, Pages with more and better other Pages linking to them must be better content, and each link counts as a “vote” for that Page. But when the dominant form of expression became something smaller than a Page, and our votes of content confidence became expressed by social sharing and other behaviors that differ from “I’m going to link to this website from my website” Google found itself trying to play web page ranking poker with less than a full deck of cards. It was trying to do a very difficult job with incomplete information.

Google Says If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Copy ‘Em

While they realized it too late, they did in fact grasp this shift years ago, which is why Google tried so hard to purchase Twitter when it was still in its infancy. Google realized that whether or not Twitter ever made real money, its true value was as a scorecard for ranking social content. Each RT and follow counts as a vote in the post-modern confidence game of content sorting (as does your own historical propensities, your geographic location, and other things that can be vaguely creepy). And while Google wasn’t able to buy Twitter, they were able to incorporate Twitter data into Google results, and the tweets and mentions your published content receives has a material impact on how Google ranks you (which is why search and the marketing side of social media are important to consider in parallel). Further, if you are signed in to, your search results may be impacted not just by what happens on Twitter, but by what the people you follow are doing on Twitter. (NOTE: Since I posted this on July 3, I learned that Google has acknowledged their special feed from Twitter expired July 2. This makes the timing of the G+ launch particularly interesting).

social media - BingFacebook, however, is a different story. They’ve been wary of Google forever, because they realize that this shift away from Pages and toward social objects puts the platform where those objects are most-often created (theirs), at a distinct advantage over all others. Facebook has never opened its data stream to Google entirely, choosing instead to partner with Microsoft’s Bing to launch a relatively tepid and non-threatening social search product that pulls the Facebook behaviors of your friends into your Bing search results if you authenticate using your Facebook credentials. Meh.

This leaves Google with more “social signals” to bake into their search algorithm than they had originally – because they have Twitter data – but Twitter is used by just 8% of the U.S. and Google isn’t in the 8% business, it’s in the “we’re taking all the marbles, and the sack they came in, and you might as well give us the chalk you used to draw the circle while you’re at it” business. Consequently, Google has tried to invent a source of social signals to give it the scoring information it needs to stay on top of the relevancy heap in an ever-expanding Web. Orkut. Google Buzz. To some extent Google Wave. Picasa. None of them got even Twitter-level traction, much less Facebook.

There are a lot of reasons for these failures, but chief among them is that Google has historically tried to lead users down a new path of social behavior. Wave in particular was an amazing technological advance, but required such a fundamental change in how you interacted with others via a computer that it was simply a bridge too far. Wave, like many of Google’s social products, was the answer to a question that we were not collectively ready to ask yet.

But with Plus, Google has completely reversed course. At present, there are very few elements of Google Plus that are unique. Instead, they are Facebook and Twitter features that are done with a level of grace and forethought befitting a huge, experienced company with third-mover advantage. Facebook is essentially the world’s biggest on-the-job-training program, with a bunch of brilliant but somewhat inexperienced people trying to build a monstrous castle by remodeling one room every day, while 750 million people are staying over for the weekend. It’s batting average on new features suffers accordingly. From a software perspective, at launch Google Plus feels nearly as mature as Facebook does today, after 10 years of development.

This time, Google swallowed its considerable “we can do this different” pride and instead took the best of Facebook and Twitter and simply did it better.

Google Has the Hammers to Compel Usage of Plus

True, Facebook has social content creation and social signals that can be used to rank Web pages, and Google doesn’t yet.

Conversely, Google has all the traditional ranking data, an enormous customer base via Google AdWords, and a suite of complementary products that’s so large it’s sometimes easy to overlook. Recognize that Google actually owns the first AND second biggest search engines in the world, since YouTube is currently #2.

There is no question in my mind that Google will very quickly (if they aren’t already) begin incorporating Google Plus behaviors into the ranking algorithm for Web pages. And while they’ve denied it in the past, there’s a history of Google ranking pages created on its owned platforms advantageously. Google Knol, for example.

Picasa Web Albums - Jay BaerGoogle has inserted so many tentacles into so many crevices of our digital lives, that they can compel us to use Plus via integrations and reminders in (just a starter list):

  • Gmail
  • YouTube
  • Picasa
  • Maps
  • Android (the app for Plus is fantastic)
  • Chrome
  • Analytics
  • Blogger

Google has an operating system (Chrome), a browser (Chrome), and the leading mobile platform (Android). Facebook has none of these, and Twitter has essentially nothing at all other than, a bunch of celeb and jock users, and Tweetdeck – for which they inexplicably paid $40 million. I’ve written before that Facebook wants to become the plumbing of the Web, but Google already owns more pipes, and has more plumbers and customers.

What Google Plus Means for Business

While Google hasn’t rolled out Plus pages for business yet, they have acknowledged they are on the way, and enterprising companies like Ford and Mashable have already cobbled together presences there by co-opting personal pages.

Here’s the scenario I see unfolding before the end of 2011, and possibly before Labor Day. Google opens up business pages on Plus to Adwords customers. Any clicks and +1 (Google’s version of Facebook “like”) your business content receives on Plus has a direct impact on your organic search engine rankings, while your Facebook activity continues to have no impact.

How do you feel about Google + then? Certainly, if consumers don’t flock to Google + then businesses will continue to put many eggs (too many in most cases) into their Facebook fan pages, in an attempt to be where their customers are, and their Google + presence will be a secondary concern. But if Plus gets any sort of real momentum among end-users – and I firmly believe it will – Google’s unique ability to finally tie search and social together in one package will force the hand of business, making Google + the place to be for interaction between companies and their customers.

I’m not predicting the death of Facebook (or even Twitter), but smart companies will spend some time this summer making sure they’re focused on how to BE social, and not how to DO social on a particular platform. Because eventually, the tools always change online.


Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Cogent thoughts Jay, thanks. I trust Apps Users (currently unable to use Google+) and their flock gains access before business pages are opened up. I’m guessing before september.

    • says

      @paulgailey I can use Google Apps here to make a comment but not to respond to someone on Google+ :) If Google wants businesses to use their services more then they need to give their Google Apps access to the very products they want them to utilize.

      Realize that by not including Google Apps users in this “field test” then they are losing all those college students, government employees and others whose university or business use Google Apps. For market data that could skew the numbers depending on how many colleges and universities are using Google Apps for Education.

      Google+ may seem “mature” in its appearance and functionality but Google’s treatment of their Google Apps paying customers is one of a greedy child who has gotten what they wanted (our business) and forgotten us in lieu of their shiny new toy. Until Google Apps users have the same access to Google’s new shiny toys (that includes Google Places), then Google is a -1 for me.

  2. says

    Jay, great observations. I think you’re spot on. Upon reading Jason Fall’s take and seeing Circles on the Google + tour, the potential for business should not be underestimated. Not by a long shot.

  3. itsEric says

    Very coherent points there! I haven’t seen Plus yet but the Twitter chatter backs up what you’ve nicely wrapped up here.

  4. ArnoldWaldstein says

    Jay…great read.

    Google has one model…and a great one at that. Everything is part of a moat to insure that their definition of advertising continues onward perpetually. We probably agree here.

    Two things strike me though:

    -adwords are not much of a hammer for the small business. Sure we all use them but they are the realm of the big company with the smaller companies, except in specific niches not really able to compete. Most of my clients have dug deep into natural search and abandoned PPC as the realm of the rich.

    -your statement though about tying ranking to Google Plus pages. I hadn’t thought of this and while the logic is sound, this rings treasonous. I’m no purist but a business and market builder but if you ‘have to’ build on Google Plus to play in the broader/open natural search world…while brilliant, I”m wondering whether this is too insidious to really be accepted.

    One thing is certain that everything changes. Yes, masses could move to Plus from FB and Twitter. But if this really is a move that strangles more than empowers, everyone could move elsewhere to search as well.

    Google never really got social…till it seems now. If this is correct, they still don’t get it.

    Stimulating read.Something I wrote bit back on “Coming to terms with search in a social world ” @ that you might find interesting.

    • says

      @ArnoldWaldstein Wasn’t suggesting (at least intentionally) that Plus would be tied to SEO rankings in a treasonous way, but if that is the primary social signal to which Google has access (and it is, based on Facebook’s decision to withhold API) then you bet Plus behavior will impact SEO (I think).

      • ArnoldWaldstein says

        @JayBaer @ArnoldWaldstein I may have read into this but that is the idea that jumped at me. Not correcting you, just having an aha moment about this.

        The tie between natural search rankings and social interest are a core coupling for businesses. If Plus becomes an obligatory club to join, the game changes.A good thought to ponder and strategize and think about how it impacts my clients businesses.First time on your blog. Won’t be my last.

  5. OnlineBusinesVA says

    Great post Jay!!!

    If +1 works, it will not only improve search quality, but also make ads more engaging. This may potentially improve Google’s ads, and eventually may turn into a core social product that can expand in new directions.We have to wait and watch!!!!!!!!!!

  6. RolandoTrentini says

    @MaryBiever Mornin Mary. How bad is the weather? We have dog that needs medication during storms and I’m afraid my older boys r asleep.

  7. says

    Im not in the beta so just going by what I am reading so far. Have a question though since the idea seems pretty cool but like you said here ‘jury is still out’ and Mark Schaefer had a good point in his blog about the Google’s handicap on stealing away Facebook devotees to the + platform. So here is my question, with the circles and networks you build, do these people need to be on gmail? How do you find people you want to add in your network? Do you need their email to add them or can you search, locate and add them without them having to be affiliated? I, for example am not on gmail. Is this bad for me when it comes to travelling in circles 😉 ?

    • PapaSlingshot says

      @C_Pappas You don’t need to have a gmail email. I use Yahoo and my company email. You can search people if they’re using Google+ or by email so far. You can also import contacts. I’m sure these features will be developed further in the near future.

    • says

      @C_Pappas They do not need to be on gmail, you can add them via any email address (eventually). The initial contact import process is via gmail, but you don’t have to have a gmail account to use +

  8. BrucePerryman says

    Outstanding post Jay. Haven’t been invited yet however have done the research. Your perspective has been the best yet!

  9. eldorenconsulting says

    This is probably one of the best, most thought proving posts I have read. Awesome work Jay, You obviously have a really great grasp of the 25,000ft level. Thats one of the things I like most about your posts… on quality and offers some interesting insights as to what may go on. Keep up the great work, love to read your blog!

    • says

      @eldorenconsulting Thanks very much for that. I really appreciate it. I try to balance posts between the Why and the How. Sometimes I feel like it makes the blog a little less sharp by doing it that way, but I figure if I write about what interests me, at least some people will share that sentiment.

  10. socialmediawave says

    Jay- great coverage and insights. Google has a great opportunity to develop a true business platform – now it’s just about instilling trust into the equation. I would rather pay for a clean platform that be subjected to random monetization attempts around advertising.



  11. shandro says

    @dblacombe I guess the hammer just didn’t extend to Wave, Picasa, Buzz and all of the other social products Google has tried.

    • dblacombe says

      @shandro I know eh? The certainty of the article seemed on shaky ground. Interesting development though.

  12. says

    @JayBaer Good stuff as usual. This is what we have based our methodologies on years ago – social and links. Glad to see Google may finally have something here.

  13. PapaSlingshot says

    Wow. Jay, you TOTALLY get it. This is the battle that SEO practitioners have been watching for years. Google wants full access to Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin data, but those companies have very few reasons to give Google full access. Google must get Google+ right to maintain search quality and dominance.

    • says

      @PapaSlingshot Indeed. Social is a means to an end (search) for Google. For Facebook, social is the end. That’s the big difference between them philosophically.

  14. AdamHansen says

    @allenmireles On thing is for certain, these platforms and new ones will constantly evolve and change keeping us forever on our toes.

  15. AdamHansen says

    @allenmireles One thing is for certain, these platforms and new ones will constantly evolve and change keeping us forever on our toes.

  16. TheSilentSeller says

    Great synopsis and analyses Jay. Very much appreciated and cutting edge for small businesses and professionals that “get it”

  17. khansahab says

    Great analysis! Finally someone who sees what Google is doing. I have always had a firm belief that Google works on the ‘If you can’t beat em, join em’ logic. But the ‘If you can’t beat em, copy em’ sounds more Googlish. Anyways, Google+ is just another example of things Google will do to beat every one they can’t buy :)

        • khansahab says

          @fosteronomo @JayBaer I have to admit, they are one of the smartest business people out there. If they can’t buy a company really cheap, they will give them competition. They might not succeed all the time but they have succeeded in wrapping the SEO world around their little finger. Whatever the case, Google has its own monopoly when it comes to search and they don’t like anyone else doing remotely better than them.

  18. DrsPeter says

    Great explanation and thank you for the great comments.

    follow me on twitter @drspeter

    i tweet about social psychology, -media, hacking and stuff that fascinates me

  19. stevegarfield says

    I like this quote best, “..content creation is now about small stuff, not big stuff, which makes it is no longer a commercial enterprise, but a personal one. ”

    I’ve always said, “I follow people.”

    • says

      @stevegarfield Thanks Steve. I agree the “follow people” sentiment is a good one, and I see Google + making that much easier than Twitter.

    • DonnaPapacosta says

      @jgombita Just sharing some thoughts from others. I have set up a Google+ acct but haven’t done much with it. You?

  20. debkrier says

    I’ve been waiting for Google to come out with something better than Buzz and so far, I like what I see. I use Facebook extensively, but I’ve always had the impression that Facebook is just a “toy” that Mark and his buddies like to play with. Hopefully Google will take a much more “business” approach to Google+. To me, the fact that Facebook still asks if you want to “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business” clearly shows that it doesn’t understand that those three entities are marketed very differently and should be treated differently by Facebook.

    • says

      @debkrier Outstanding point Deb. I’ve often said that if you stripped away the size of the audience on Facebook, and just asked businesses if they wanted to put up a page they can’t really brand, where the rules change, there’s no multiple admin layers, etc. they would laugh hysterically. The fact that Pages became such a big deal is kind of a miracle, really.

  21. JohnTorresII says

    @jaybaer Google Plus looks like it will really revolutionize the world of social media especially for businesses,

  22. says

    So far I’ve been utterly smitten with Google+ from a UI point of view. I’ll be curious to see how application support is integrated, but what’s fascinated me so far is how Google seems to be drawing such a distinct line between your aforementioned concept of “snippet vs page”. I firmly hold that social networks have little value from a traditional search perspective outside of scrapping for brand mentions, vetting potential/existing employees, etc. The language is too personal and random, and frankly… how valuable is a random recommendation on Facebook to the casual browser who is looking up information on a topic or product.

    With Google+, our benevolent internet behemoth is pretty much playing both sides. They’ll use social data to infer new ways to make non-social search and content more discoverable. Google+ isn’t going to drive folks away from traditional search and content, but Google search will certainly drive users into +. As a wise man once said: “Clever girl….”

    • says yes. they finally realized they COULD play both sides, instead of trying to force us all to see the world the way they see it.

  23. Elias_Shams says

    This is awesome!!! The more social networking sites like Google+ and the new myspace popping up, the better for my new gig, J Social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category.Here is my 2cents on this whole internet -> search Engine -> Social media things and my rational on why there is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the companies about their online connections. A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies:- Early 90s: WWW was born…

    – Mid – late 90s: Yahoo & Google were born to help us to find the right pages on the WWW…

    – Early 2000: Social media was born…

    – Late 2000: There are now millions of pages created by people, companies, and organizations on all these social media channels.

    – 2011: We are back to early 90’sThat is why I built to accomplish such a mission – the portal to all your existing social media channels. EliasCEO & Founder

  24. malonso21 says

    very Interesing. Tnks Jay for sharing your toughts. Just have this doubt: isn’t Twitter quit sharing info with google?. @malonso21 Saludos desde Mexico

    • says

      @malonso21 Yes, the API relationship between Twitter and Facebook ended July 2, making the Google Plus launch more than a coincidence, I think.

  25. FallsviewWaterpark says

    What a fantastic article @JayBaer this is @fallsavenue and although I have been listening to SEO & SEM people, blogs, articles, emails, suggestions, insights, rants, raves and the like I found this article explaining Social / Search and the ties betweenGoogle/Facebook/Twitter the most insightful yet. I WILL be following you and hopefully be ‘connected’ in a few of my Google + circles when I get a chance to join!

  26. BrianMillis says

    What a great post Jay! All of the information around the evolution of Plus couldn’t be more accurate. Your closing line is what made me smile. Companies HAVE to start being social and stop building the entire strategy around on platform or another. What I get to talk with to customers and prospect customers is that these platforms are channels for broadcasting and engaging, but can fail you long term if you build your entire strategy around it. Obviously, at Compendium, we feel that the business blog is the most sustainable place to create social content and best way to start “being social”; i.e. write great content that people want to share and engage with. Just like I can share your post here in Facebook or Twitter, but you OWN it when it’s on this blog. Brilliant article and brilliant advice. Thanks Jay!

    • says

      @BrianMillis Thanks so much Brian. You are right that the blog should most often be the hub. Overlooked because blogging ain’t cool any more I guess! Got your voice mail too. No new news to share. Wheels of government turn slowly it seems.

      • BrianMillis says

        Sounds good Jay. Let me if/how we can help. Also, just had a major retail client who sells glasses send an email out to a list of customers asking for stories. Despite being right before a holiday weekend, they got nearly 1,000 stories! many with great pics. That’s great content they can now share and broadcast in social media; get +1’s, Facebook likes, retweets, comments, etc. If companies would rethink what is good blog content, it might just be cool again! @JayBaer

  27. says

    Interaction on Facebook fan pages has no coorilation to the search rankings on Google. This is a large disadvantage for Facebook.

    If Google applies it so that the more clicks or +1s a business page receives correlates into better search rankings, than I would expect a large flock to Google Plus. Why spend countless hours creating content for social media, then countless hours on SEO when you can use Google Plus and have both coincide with each other?

  28. ArnieK says

    Jay – very well done. I have not had enough time to “play” with Google+ other than on a cursory basis, but your article has motivated me to set some time aside to really get to know it. I agree with your other readers – Google may have finally done something significant in the social space. Going to also ask @cliquekaila to add this to her resource post on the VM blog.

  29. SuzanneVara says

    Triple wow on this one Jay. So very well thought out and written. Just a few thoughts that I have here. Ok, Google has had how many products for the social side of life and not necessarily the business side (it was a part of but not exclusively business) and they failed. Google + comes out and we are already talking about the business page as Ford and Mashable have them. I would think that given the search component that the business pages would have, the failures of their other products that were for the people and not the businesses, that Google would have launched this the opposite —> businesses first.

    As the search giant, businesses want rankings on Google. Google could have/can/will maximize this and blow Facebook fan pages out of the water if they give businesses the interactivity with fans with the understanding that this is tied to rankings. I know that to be in it to win it however I am still unsure why Google tries to be more than what it has to be. It is a search engine first. Why bring in the social side of users (platform like FB) when all it had to do is what it kinda is doing now. Platform where businesses can interact, engage, post, have “their page” but also move up the ranking chain. Seems simple to me.

    • says

      @SuzanneVara Thanks so much Suzanne. I think the difference is that Google is a search company trying to use social to protect that hegemony. Facebook is a social company. Big difference. We’ll see how those differing philosophies evolve now that they are competing even more head-to-head.

  30. says

    Jay, this was a very well thought out article. But I have to say that I hope you’re wrong. I am really not looking for ANOTHER site to have to pay attention to. I’d much rather, as you said, stay focused on “being” social. I think the tipping point is fast approaching when peeps will say, “ENOUGH!” No matter what Google, Facebook, Twitter or anyone else does, there will never be more than 24 hours in a day. I’m not particularly interested in learning something new. I’m hoping that +1 does NOT take off :-(

    • tellischarles says

      @[email protected] If you are “really not looking for ANOTHER site…” just chill and those of us who know opportunity when we see it got you covered. Many of us have early adopter strategies in place, i.e. nails in hand waiting for the hammer of opportunity to hammer away. Google+something of this magnitude=opportunity.

    • says

      @[email protected] i know. I’m already seeing my productivity drop from having to participate in yet another network.

  31. Neicolec says

    Great post, Jay! I especially like your analysis of Facebook as “the world’s biggest on-the-job-training program.” It sure feels that way as we watch them fumble through new UI and features. I haven’t looked into Google Plus that much, though I saw the Jason Falls’ video. I admit, I am impressed–especially with Circles. I disagree with Jason that it will be difficult for some to use Circles. I think (and have blogged) that Facebook has blown it by not turning Lists into a more prominent and easy-to-use feature, so that people would use Facebook to share professionally, personally, and at all levels. Groups just doesn’t cut it because of the way they implemented it. Google looks like they have got it exactly right. You hit the nail on the head, they seem to have reimplemented a lot of what already exists, but have done it very well and leveraged their strengths.

    Hadn’t even thought about the ways they would leverage that for their Search algorithm and business. Thanks for the great insights on why they are pursuing this as a business and how they are likely to use it!

    Jay, the one thing I wonder is how or whether they are providing a low barrier path for users to ease into these new features. It’s one thing if you already have (and use) a Google profile. But for those who don’t or who don’t even use gmail, have they got ways to entice us into Google Plus from Search or other tools that the masses who aren’t social media early adopters regularly use?

    • says

      @Neicolec neicolec Certainly, the +1 feature will be the lowest common denominator, and it’s of course already showing up on SERPs. I wager the two other entry points for non-technical users (critical if they want this strategy to succeed) will be Google Maps and YouTube. Those are so ubiquitous that if they can bake a Plus use case into them, it will be a gold rush.

  32. HeidiCohen says

    Jay –

    Great analysis. Based on my initial Google+ interactions, I agree that it’s a more elegant version of other social media platforms, namely Facebook and Twitter, integrated with a slew of other Google offerings. Google+ brings some of its less used functionality into a context where users will see the benefit of using them and adapting their behavior.

    As the recent fire sale of MySpace underscores, in the digital sphere if you don’t adapt to changing needs and functionality, you loose. Facebook should heed this as a warning and consider how to evolve.

    Happy marketing,Heidi Cohen

    • says

      @HeidiCohen Thanks for the RT and the comment Heidi. It’ll be VERY interesting to see how Google incorporates Plus into the littany of stuff they already own, much of which we kinda take for granted now. Maps, for example.

  33. says

    Thanks to @HeidiCohen for turning me on to this post. Very well thought out article Jay. As an early adopter of Wave I agree with you, they were ahead of their time. Now? Spot-on right, they are elegantly co-opting Twitter & Facebook functionality almost “Apple like”. As a practitioner of SEO and an addict to SoMe let me state one thing. The page and link paradigm is not dead, just evolved.

    Google, and all the Search Engines, still need to appropriately index, categorize, and serve up Pages. Think of the difference between Google Insights for Search and Google Trends. Many of the social signals are trendy or newsie. They do in fact though point to, add weight to, more static pages. I like to think of Flash Mobs in Grand Central Station. They are ‘news’ while the Station itself and it’s commerce, schedules, events, and eateries are both more static AND referenced by social signals. Those with more social signals over time will gain additional relevance above and beyond pages/links. With me?

    it is a very interesting time we live in, exciting! The most important thing is to not sit on the sidelines! If you have any interest in being relevant (findable) then the answer lies in being Social (with great content of course). Thanks for the read, will stay posted. josepf

    • says

      @Josepf @HeidiCohen josepf Thanks for the great comment, and thanks to Heidi for drawing attention to this post. I agree with you. The page and the link aren’t dead, they’re just relegated to being part of the story now, when they were the entire story for a long time. Great point you make about social signals being ephemeral. We’re also a LOT more willing to throw around lower quality social votes than higher quality backlinks.

  34. Chocadores says

    @MariSmith Hi Mari, hope your well hun, is there any truth in rumour that FB is becoming unpopular??
    Love new avatar xx

  35. ChrisBaggott says

    Jay this is the best blog post I’ve ever read. This is my third time through it (sitting on the circle now). Thank you.

  36. ryancox says

    I must say @JayBaer , you’ve laid out some points and put them together so cohesively that I have to call BS on myself for some of my initial Google+ thoughts and comments. While I’m not ready to agree in 100% entirety of everything you’ve laid out … you’ve taken me from far left, to pretty much dead-middle on where I stand with the success or failure of Google+. As @ChrisBaggott said, this the best blog (about Google+) I’ve read, point-blank-period. And its one of the better blogs I’ve read, ever. Very well done sir.

    • says

      @ryancox @ChrisBaggott Thanks so much Ryan. That’s nice to hear. Of course, the devil is in the details, and Google could easily screw this up. I don’t think they will this time though.

      • JamieFavreau says

        @JayBaer @ryancox @ChrisBaggott Great read. Thanks for the break down because I was thinking the same thing. I did not get a Google + invite yet and I am wondering WHY do we need another network? I often wonder why do they need another version of getting out data? Don’t they have enough ways already?

  37. LoriGama says

    Brilliant analysis, Jay! Many insightful points. I especially love when you said: “I’ve written before that Facebook wants to become the plumbing of the Web, but Google already owns more pipes, and has more plumbers and customers.” –What an excellent point.

  38. chiprodgers says

    Excellent read Jay! I don’t see it referenced here in your blog or the comments below, but a product manager from Google (Christian Austin) has posted an unlisted video on Youtube about their approach and timing for rolling out company presences later this year — so you had the timing right. The video also provides a link for companies to apply for the early adopter program.

  39. SusanMcElhenney says

    Thanks for this post, Jay. Risking redundancy I’ll echo that the way you’ve woven together the social / search / corporate influence vectors to tell the story is pretty darn elegant, not to mention plausible and sound. Something I’m keeping an eye on is if Google’s sheer mass can support what for me is a great deal of stress placed on the concept of a “social” network… to connect people to businesses. Of course Google Plus presents as person-to-person, or person-to-groups of people…and they are doing that at least as well as FB / Twitter. Just seems incongruent that the answer to the Why-Will-Google’s-Social-Thing-Really-Work-This-Time question seems to be Because-Google-Has-Made-it-So-Businesses-Will-Want-to-Participate. Net net tho…I can’t wait to try it out!

  40. says

    Holy Cow. Jay you launched a bomb in my mind:

    “Google opens up business pages on Plus to Adwords customers. Any clicks and +1 (Google’s version of Facebook “like”) your business content receives on Plus has a direct impact on your organic search engine rankings, while your Facebook activity continues to have no impact.”

    Of course Google will shortly begin to own some of the social content generation(facebook updates) and social signals (twitter-like) but the biggest revolution might come as it applies pressure through the rest of it’s network. Google owns us. It owns our data, our search patterns, all of our connections, even the content of our emails (gmail) is content for their AdWord placements.

    So how will Chrome (browser) grab a unique piece of this business? And what Android functions can Google keep out of the iPhone’s stream? The play for our social minds is bigger than Google+, but Google+ is giving us a nice discussion point to fathom the depth of Google’s plan. It’s a big plan. It’s got huge dollars attached. And it’s reading this post and all it’s comments right now and figuring out how to send coupons and ads to each of us in this social stream. And we’re going to let them do this, because we already do.

    With Google+ they have simply brought some of the connections out from under the covers and given Twitter and Facebook a lot more to worry about. Notice how the Facebook/Skype announcement came so quickly after Google+ began showing Hangouts? As Microsoft OWNED the PC, and GOOGLE OWNS the Search and Find functions. FACEBOOKS reign as the king of social may be coming to a delightful end.

    What’s next?


  41. Jo4peace says

    @deongordon I hear it has great potential @copyblogger gives it a thumbs up. Is it still invite only?

    • deongordon says

      @Jo4peace @copyblogger // Cool. Reading some thoughts from @chrisbrogan now. Still invite only. They turn it on/off often.

  42. mbossert says

    Google+ already influences search results. But isn’t this partly what they are under anti-trust investigation for? The more they tilt the field to favor their properties, the more trouble they get… it will take time but ask MS if it slowed them down when they went through it.

    Facebook has that pesky number of 750,000,000+ users… many in places where Google is not as dominant as in North America. Facebook pages and interactions still influence search results… Certainly on Bing which offers a far better ROI for search advertising for a small biz than Google. As can Facebook ads! Twitter seems like a rounding error – but tweets still influence search results and consider that they just rebuffed Google again… partly because they are integrated right into iOS 5 and ~250,000,000 users on that platform by end of this year.

    So the game is afoot. Google have huge challenges ahead. Google suck at product launches and there are many battles to come. 5 or 6 products on one day? C’mon. And what the hell did they do to Google Places… Android is going to struggle to make money for handset makers – MS already makes more money in royalties from Android makers than they do off Windows 7 Mobile. Remember those 6,000 patents that Apple, MS, Rim etc won from Nortel. More licensing, patent suits in the mobile world is inevitable.

    All this to say while I may disagree on who might or might not be the highest leverage player and for how long – I completely agree with your ending statement. Get Social and stay the course cause the platforms are going to change. With the unprecedented rate of change that’s taking place, being social and as “now” as possible is a survival necessity.

  43. says

    Google plus have good feature, but unfortunately every minutes i loss connection using hangout video. at this moment, skype still best for video call.

  44. cmo4hire says

    @JayBaer , thanks for the thorough analysis. I’ve been reading the how-to snippets and initial reactions to Google +, but this put a lot in perspective and brought in some history I had forgotten. At the least seeing the developments in social media is very entertaining!

  45. says

    I can see why they would seek out a platform that would make use of their advantage, to help people stick to Google more and keep their brand upfloat. I do wonder if their efforts will succeed or if this will be another bust on their end.

  46. IdeaAppsInc says

    Yes, the tools always change! Well, I am figuring out Google plus for myself and so far I like what I see. I am also going to gear up and get ready for the business pages! Will also check out Mashable, of course they had to be one of the first!

  47. b_WEST says

    Jay, that is one thorough, informative and useful post – thank you! On the downside, having read your post I’ve concluded that unlike Buzz and Wave I am going to need to spend the time to learn and use G+ which I was trying to avoid…. :-)

  48. letstalkandchat says

    thanks for the info jay! just wana share this to anybody. If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.

  49. letstalkandchat says

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.

  50. says

    I sense there is plenty of legs left in this thread as + has not truly revved up yet. I think the potential gamechanger comes by virtue of the imminent migration tool that Google will announce. This means companies with Apps accounts, about 40m, can in theory make social networking as part of the job by essentially trading the personal reputational Gmail circles of their employees to be part of the company accounts. Let me put it another way, early adopter Gmail users have a powerful bargaining chip to use with the portability to an Apps account whereby their Circles offering is suddenly that much more appealing to the company using social strategically. The companies that excel will retain and attract staff by opening the firewalls because they will directly benefit by their employees advocating their brand. The pers/pro delineation gets more fuzzy but G+ can tackle that without the legacy or non professional association baggage that Facebook has. You with me?

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