Ignore Google+ at your peril: Part 1-paradigm shift for SEO

For today’s article, I will answer one of my readers’ requests to talk about Google+.

In many people’s mind, Google+ is just a Facebook wannabe. They see it as Google’s belated attempted to regain the high ground through social media. Indeed, Google has good reasons to be afraid of Facebook—if they do not play their cards right, they may lose their empire over to Facebook.

With more than 850 million users on Facebook and their users locked in it, it seems that Google will have an impossible task of dislodging Facebook. Right now, Google+ is described as a ghost town where only propeller-heads congregate. Hence, it is easy to dismiss Google+ as an inconsequential part of your social media strategy. If you think this way, I hope this series of articles will dispel the notion that you can totally ignore Google+.

I start off with a quote by James Whittaker (a former Google engineer who defected back to Microsoft) in “7 Secrets of Tomorrow’s Highly Successful Internet Businesses”,

Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.

In other words, Google+ is to be the centrepiece of Google’s overall grand strategy. To execute this strategy, Google first had to overhaul the pesky myriad of privacy policies on all their services and amalgamate them into one unified policy. Once they do that, they can then take each user’s raw data from all of his/her Google services (e.g. search, Gmail, YouTube) and cross-reference and merge them into one monolithic cohesive database that knows everything about the user. Next, with this complete comprehensive database of each user, Google will then work out his/her connections with other Google users. Therefore, if you use Google’s services, you are automatically placed under Google’s wider social network database. The Google+ that we see as trying to be a Facebook-wannabe is just a piece of the puzzle within that wider database.

As a result, in the days, months and years to come, there will be changes from Google—what we see is just the beginning. IT front-liners will bear the brunt of the changes. Experts and entire sub-sections of the IT industry will rise and fall along with the tide of transformation. Already, there is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the SEO-industry as they see their colleagues getting smashed by Google. Today, if you are engaging the services of a SEO consultant, you better grill them on their strategy for dealing with Google’s new over-SEO penalty. If they can’t give an honest answer, you know they don’t know what they are doing. If fact, if they continue to do what they used to do (the wrong way), your website may get busted by Google instead!

Regarding changes, there is one area that I believe will look vastly different in a few years time—SEO. With the rise of Google+, Internet marketing practitioners have to reframe their mind on what SEO is. In fact, I’m not sure whether the word “SEO”, as we know it, is going to be around for long. At the very least, this word will not be as prominent as before.

So, the most important question is this: what will be the paradigm shift when it comes to Google search?

I believe the coming shift will be from objective search towards subjective search. To understand this concept, first think about the whole purpose of traditional SEO. Its aim is to push up your website’s ranking in objective search results. In objective search results, what you see is going to be what I see (of course, this is not exactly true, as Google tailor-make results on factors like geographical regions). This is what Google’s Keyword Research Tool is all about. With Google’s recent implementation of Search, plus Your World, search will become more and more subjective. That is, your search results are going to be more and more tailor-made for you. Hence, your search results are going to be different from mine. With this paradigm shift, can you see that traditional SEO becomes meaningless? If everybody’s search results are different, the concept of ranking high in search results becomes invalid because there’s no objective benchmark for ordering rankings! With this paradigm shift, traditional SEO alone is not going to get you anywhere. At most, traditional SEO will optimise your website for the baseline results. Beyond that, individual subjective customisations of search results will deviate from that baseline.

So, the next question is, how will Google tailor-make your search results? We will have to answer this question on another article.

About the author

I am a Technology Consultant, whose passion is to help small businesses reach their full potential through mastery of digital technologies, strategies and marketing.