The Impact of Google Plus on Local Search
Google Plus and Facebook: What’s the Difference and What Does It All Mean?
For years now, local marketers have worked to better understand Google search in order to get found by more consumers using Google search. While Yahoo, Bing and others have captured local search traffic, Google has dominated the space for the last few years. At the same time, Facebook has come on the Internet marketing leaving local marketing and ad agencies wondering what impact it could have on pay per click – PPC – campaigns. As you might expect, Google decided to jump into the social media marketing space with Google Plus (also known as Google+). So, what are Google’s plans? What will Google Plus mean for local search? And how will local marketing firms use Google Plus to help local businesses?
Before we answer these questions, it is important to understand what has happened over the last few years. If you consider the difference in how Google and Facebook have grown, there are vast differences. Google started with the world’s greatest search algorithm focused on what people looking for products and services in a local market wanted when they typed in a few short words. These short words have evolved into what most Internet marketers call long-tail key phrases. Instead of searching for ‘inspectors’, consumers started helping Google by using home inspectors in DFW or even home inspectors in Colleyville. This helped Google learn search patterns and how consumers searched for local business offerings.
While all of this was going on, Facebook was allowing the same consumers to setup free accounts to communicate with friends and family through social media. Interestingly enough, Facebook allowed these consumers to input as much information about themselves as they wanted and they did! They entered their address, telephone numbers, email address, relationships, occupations, interests, education, pictures of themselves and much more – all of which very helpful to local marketing firms and local business leaders trying to market to local consumers.
While Google was improving their search algorithm and local marketing firms were working on search engine optimization, Facebook was building a database of what is now over one billion people giving away tons of information about themselves with the idea of monetizing their efforts through social media marketing – SMM – for local businesses. Both continued to grow as local marketers worked to understand what Internet marketing would be like over the next few years while these Internet power houses capturing more and more consumer data.
The Impact of Google Plus on Social Media Marketing
Finally, in mid-2011, Google launched Google Plus – Google+ or G+ – entering the social media market before Facebook entered the search market. Over the next year, the world and specifically many businesses involved in Internet marketing watched as Google integrated this social media platform into their search algorithm. So, let’s get back to the questions… what does it all mean and how did Google Plus and Google+ Local change the game for Internet marketing?
Search in the past involved many things, but two of the simplest were the phrase ‘landscaping companies in Dallas’ and the location of the search – the consumer searching’s IP address. This helped Google understand with a decent degree of accuracy the general vicinity of the consumer and what the consumer searching was interested in. Now take that next level… what if Google can also know what the searching consumer’s friends like. If we are now searching for a home inspector in Colleyville and happen to have a friend that is friends with a home inspector or has even given a review for a home inspection company, it will likely appear higher in rank. In fact, we will also see how our friend is connected and gave them a review.
While there are many other developments around Google+ Local replacing Google Places for local business, it is important to know that in the first 16 months of Google+ for users, they have garnered over 400 million users who have signed up and given similar information to that given to Facebook. So as Facebook begins entering the world of search, Google has a bit of a head start in combining search engine marketing and social media marketing with Google Plus. It will be important to watch the developments over the next 14 months to see how social media marketing grows and consumers begin sharing through online reviews and recommendations.
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