Why Google+ Matters to Ecommerce + 9 Things You Should Do About It

If you frequent tech and marketing blogs, by now you’ve heard about Google’s latest major change to search – Search Plus Your World (or SPYW, possibly pronounced as “spew”).

Google now offers a “personal results” option for logged-in Google Account users that incorporates content shared by connections within Google+ and Gmail contacts (pretty much anyone in your email history with a Gmail address).

For example, a search for ‘handbag’ shows me 10 personal results, one being Zappos, which I have added to my Google+ Circles.

Clicking the link shows me my contacts’ shared content.

Smart Zappos uses Google+ to share photos as well as informative articles that stand out in these kind of results. Zappos needs not to be in one’s Circle to appear, if a Google+ friend or Gmail contact has shared Zappos’ posting, it will also show up.

How SPYW Transforms Word-of-Mouth Marketing

While social sharing through Twitter and Facebook is good (and cheap) word-of-mouth for brands, Tweets and Likes have a very short half-life. The more Facebook friends you have, the quicker your Ticker updates. News Feeds are condensed to show only the most “relevant” stories, thanks to EdgeRank. Even if shares are noticed, if they are not relevant at that given time, they get lost in the haystack of updates.

Search Plus Your World obliterates the half life, hanging on to and indexing these shares and resurrecting them when they are relevant to a user. Who cares what Jessie, Joey and Johnny think about TurboTax until you’re in the market for tax software?

If Google could work a deal with other social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it would really provide value to users. (Hey, it could happen!) But for now, if you want to show up in personal results, you’ve gotta drink the Googleaid.

How Search Plus Your World Affects Ecommerce

It’s obvious participating in Google+ helps your visibility in personal results. But it’s also likely that Google is or will factor social shares as a trust signal, and thus a ranking factor. Spammy sites don’t tend to get organic shares, so it’s one way to spot chaff among wheat. Because Google has full visibility into Google+, it’s easy to spot the fake “sock puppet” accounts — it’s tougher to game the system.

Social link building is becoming as important as old school link building. If you think you don’t need to invest in Google+ until it hits critical mass, or until you can demonstrate a “measurable ROI” from your efforts, competitors who do grok the Plus could leave you in their dust in traditional search rankings, not just personal results.

What You Should Do About Google+

1. Put the Google+ chicklet on all your site pages
2. Treat the chicklet like a call to action (don’t bury it, consider testing placement for best engagement, measure clicks on the button as a micro-conversion metric, etc.)
3. Appoint someone in your organization or an outsourced specialist to own your Google+ marketing effort (this can be part of a larger social media role)
4. Share images and video content regularly, tag appropriately with keywords (multimedia content stands out in search and may be weighted higher, also more likely to be shared by others)
5. Optimize your shares like you would for Twitter or the Facebook Newsfeed
6. Encourage Facebook and Twitter subscribers to also follow you on Google+
7. Segment your email subscriber list and target Gmail accounts with a special request to add you their Circles (along with the benefits of doing so)
8. Use Google+ as a microblog to give product usage tips, feature customer reviews, announce new products and sales events, etc.
9. Engage in “social listening” within Google+, find out who’s talking about you and engage with them. Activity across the network may give your social profile a bit more clout with Google when personalizing results, similar to EdgeRank’s Affinity Score.

While Twitter and Facebook are still important networks to nurture, Google+ deserves serious attention. If you want to be found in social search, now is the best time to start seeding the search engine with your content.

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14 Responses to “Why Google+ Matters to Ecommerce + 9 Things You Should Do About It”

  1. Aaron+ says:

    Great advice Linda! I’ve been preaching to all my friends and clients since last week that they need to get on Google+ quickly.

    Now, I’ll probably just share this article with them all.


  2. I am already very satisfied using Google plus from my country Lebanon Middle East. Love it

  3. Great post Linda. #8, use it as a microblog, is my favorite item. I’d go as far as making some of your Google+ posts exclusive to just Google and not other social profiles.

    That “exclusivity” of this account will attract more followers (if you let them know this is the case) which will in turn help with +1s and hopefully a better social search reach.

    • A great tip from econsultancy is to use Google+ as your “hub” network, as you can feed your posts through Twitter and Facebook but it doesn’t work the same vice-versa, if you want to consolidate your efforts. Facebook’s edgerank seems to be less affected from 3rd party feeds than it used to be (used to give higher weighting to stories composed within facebook as opposed to NetworkedBlogs or Twitter)

      • I’ll also add that when Google Reader removed Tweet This option for only Google +1, I started using +1 as my social bookmarking service – I actually +1 more articles than I tweet because it’s so much faster, even though my Google+ circles are nowhere near my Twitter audience.

  4. Mary says:

    Good recommendations Linda!
    Google+ content is going to be featured on Google Search, so it is important for marketers to optimize their use of G+ and its content. Do you think Google’s smaller membership will be positively influenced by SPYW?

    • Hi Mary, I don’t think personal results will be turned on by too many folks initially (especially since the results can be quasi-relevant). But *if* Google+ gains more steam, it will be a valuable tool. People need more connections to get more related content, so this could be a push for people to spend more time building out their Google+ networks just like they’ve invested in Facebook etc.

      But I suspect the social signals will affect all search, it being a ranking factor, so anything through Google+ will help SEO. ;)

  5. Ocha Nix says:

    So much to absorb but once you do…Wow! The marketing potential is huge. Time to get to work and put into action your suggestions.

  6. From an SEO perspective, Google+ is coming at us like a freight train. I agree on adding the +1 button, but is there any way to make it easier for people to add you to their circles other than asking? For example, is there a Google+ “add me to your circle” button?

    • That would be a good idea, my concern would be the more buttons you put up, the less likely anything gets click – forcing the user to cognitively process what’s going on :)
      Perhaps including this call to action on key pages and in emails, like “Join our Facebook Page” in additon to “Like” buttons?

  7. I love this article.. Google + is the key as it ties is social to Google which provides the most traffic and revenue to retailer sites. I also wrote a blog on this subject many months ago and would love your feedback — http://blog.igodigital.com/blog/johndeines/whats-more-valuable-to-a-retailer-facebook-like-google-1-or-a-tweet

  8. Google “Direct Connect” is also an important aspect of Google+ that businesses setting up a page should consider using. Anytime someone visits the Google search engine and types “+your company’s name” they’ll be immediately directed to your G+ page. Thanks for the insights.

    Lauren at Volusion

  9. Great article. Love the phrase “drink the Googleaid”. Clever!

  10. Personalised product search results is huge. It will have all the SEO link builders quaking in their shoes.

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