The Google+ hashtag (or ‘pound sign’ if you’re American!). There to help you find similar content, make your content more discover-able and give your content more context… but how about helping your content get more exposure in the organic SERPs? No? Well, yes actually!
In a bid to distract everyone’s attention from the fact they’re now planning to encrypt 100% of all searches moving forwards, Google announced plans to introduce a “richer hashtag experience to Google Search” on Wednesday.
According to Google engineer Zaheed Sabur, when you search for a hashag on Google (say #digitaljobs), posts which contain that hashtag on Google+ should now start to appear on the right hand side of the regular results. The Google+ results will include a short summary of the post, the author’s profile and a link to the posts on the network.
According to Zaheed, Google will only ever pull out posts which have been made public or shared with you directly (if you’re signed in) and will also include links to search for that hashtag on other social media networks.
So, will Google+ content potentially place above PPC content for related searches? Of course not! As this blog shows, initial tests show Google+ posts will appear below paid ads for commercial terms but will replace a brand’s official Google+ page for informational queries eg. #Nike.
The latest move means a company’s Google+ content now has the potential to appear in three different formats in the organic search results – content tied to a specific author, hashtag-related posts and their own personal Google+ business page.
Although no one’s quite sure yet whether sharing content on Google+ or having an active profile on the platform will help a brand to perform better organically overall, the latest changes show the Big G are ready, willing and able to force related Google+ content down a user’s neck, whether they want it or not.
Granted, related Google+ posts will only appear when a user searches for a phrase with a ‘#’ prefix but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels it’s only a matter of time before related Google+ content starts appearing in the organic SERPs, regardless of whether a hashtag prefix has been used or not.
The Bubble opinion? Well, anything which helps brands (especially smaller brands) get more organic exposure in the SERPs definitely gets our seal of approval – but from a user-perspective, we’re just not convinced. You see, as a business (and individuals), we (Lauren and I) love the social network – but we know we’re in the minority. No matter what Google claims, Google+ is still a pretty niche network and it’s yet to have the global appeal (and inevitable success) that things like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram have.
Even if users are presented with relevant content from Google+, I’m just not convinced the majority of users would be willing to explore it because it’s on Google+ – a network they’re just not familiar with and – here’s the crux of the issue – none of their friends are on. OK, so it might help to drive a bit more traffic to Google+ and convince a few more users to sign up each week… but, personally, I think that’s as far as it’s going to go.
What do you think? Do you think including more Google+ related content in the organic SERPs is a good thing for users? Or do you think it’s just Google’s latest ploy to drive more traffic (and at some point more revenue) to its own products? Leave us a comment below.
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