social media reviewsSince the introduction of Google+, Google has been redefining how it can provide more relevant search results.

Recently Google introduced Search, Plus Your World, something I’ll call Google social search.

This new enhancement has made it essential to have a Google+ profile and/or Google+ business page.

Why? Google is highlighting Google+ content in search results.

This article will share three tips you need to know to benefit from Google social search.

By the way, if you haven’t already done so, create a Google+ page for your business. Fill out all the sections with images and top focus keywords you want to rank for in search.

Once the page is created, engage with people and other businesses, share great content and post publicly every day.

What Is Google Social Search?

When logged into Google+ and searching on Google, Google social search defaults to Show Personal Results. Google has always shown personalized results based on browsing history and location. Now content that’s been shared with you through the Google+ social network is incorporated into results.

You’ll know that personalized results are appearing when you see the signs below:

search plus

The Google personalized results are identified by the highlighted areas.

The box on the top left points to a message that, in this example, says that there are “60 personal results and 5,810,000 other results” that have been found. Some of the 60 personal results will be blended into the first page shown.  Personal results are identified by the blue person icon in the left hand margin as shown above.

The box on the top right indicates that personal results are being displayed. You can select the globe or public icon on the right to switch to non-personalized results.

personal results

When I search "social media," the personal result count is highlighted as a link.

Clicking on the “170 personal results” link as shown above, switches the results page to only display the personal results.

Google’s aim is to provide hyper-personalized—and therefore more relevant—results to users. Within public search results, weighted social search signals may come into play, corresponding with the growth of the +1 button.

People and pages you have circled are likely to show in Google social search results, so it’s important to build your audience on Google+. Another way to catch the eye of Google users is to appear in Google’s Related People and Pages based on the user’s search query.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Get Circled With Related People and Pages

Promoting your Google+ page is important to grow reach and build a large following. To appear prominently in Google social search, you need to be circled already or market yourself to be circled. One of the best ways to expand the number of users who have circled you is by appearing in Google’s Related People and Pages.

Google says to appear in Related People and Pages, all you need to do is:

  • fill out your profile,
  • post about your favorite topics and
  • appear in search results.
related people

Keywords for Related People and Pages on Google+ are highlighted within the Google+ profiles.

According to Ian Lurie, “Google’s far more likely to show a plus box for broad concepts with low commercial intent versus niche terms with high commercial intent.” You can test this by searching social media versus social media for nonprofits or fashion versus women’s clothing.

In his Google Plus Box Ranking Factors Report, Lurie examines the different Plus Box ranking factors and concludes that reach and follower count are very important. The number of +1s matter, in addition to the frequency of updates. In his study, pages or people who haven’t posted within 72 hours did not appear in the Google Plus Box.

Google will continue to adjust the Google social search algorithm, as well as the Plus Box results. However, “it now matters who has you in their social circles, and who has THEM in their social circles,” states Chris Brogan.

2. Build Authority: It Matters

Due to Google’s emphasis on +1s and reach, it’s important to build your company as an authority in your industry.  As with all of your work, focus on gaining the attention of people on Google+ with quality content.

The +1 has a lot of power, so create good content and post regularly to encourage users to +1 your material. Google will see the signal from other Google+ users that you are a quality and relevant business. You may see a boost in your ranking due to your efforts.

Use keywords relevant to your industry and expertise on your Google+ page. The description for your page in the Google Plus Box can be pulled from a number of sources, ranging from page posts to the introduction as shown below.

google plus box

The phrase "social media" is found within the introduction, tagline, occupation or posts.

3. Note: Secure Search Limits Analytics

While Google is providing this new opportunity for exposure, Google is also limiting something important to businesses.

Google rolled out Secure Search for signed-in Google users in November 2011 in preparation for Google’s social search. Danny Sullivan interviewed Amit Singal, who oversees Google’s ranking algorithms, and learned that Google has been working on the encryption to protect personal results for at least a year. If results for Google social search were not secure, content that was shared on Google+ privately could be revealed publicly within searches.

All Google social search results are hidden behind https:// and no keywords will be linked to your search in any analytics programs. Many users always remain logged into Google, which limits the keyword data found in analytics software. Marketers have seen an increase in the excluded keyword data.

limited analytics

For one company, 12.4% of total organic traffic data was encrypted in November and rose to 16.9% in January when Google social search was released.

The encryption that Secure Search provides means that any private material mixed in with your regular results is protected, seen only by your browser and Google. While a user’s privacy is protected, marketers focused on organic data are losing valuable information. Organic keyword data will be limited, so it may be harder to determine user intent based on search queries.

What do you think? Are your search results more relevant and has your business seen Google+ growth since the advent of Google social search? Please let me know your experience so far and additional tips you would like to share! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Thanks Sarah for valuable inputs on search plus your world. However since google launched this search plus your world or social search, there is much hype being created by specific groups about privacy being humiliated. I have heard on twitter much those people opposing social search by saying that it will open all your private data to the world, however i personally don’t agree to this point because it depends upon both your g+ settings you made while creating account first. But one question i would ask here is, since google launched g+ pages for business, it is struggling against facebook fan pages and at least i have not seen much in social networking world from businesses using g+ brand pages. Do you think Google+ brand pages for business will really matter in future like fan pages of FB do in the present? 

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  • Great post, for my business its going to be hard to find others in the field.. Any recommendations?

  • Adriana

    I created a Google+ profile for the company I work for in Early January, and I had in fact seen a better traffic as the number of +1s increased. Unfortunately, while trying to delete a duplicated YouTube Channel, I mistakenly deleted the same Google account under which I had created the Google plus page. I was not able to get back any of my circles, company information, posts, +1s, or comments from other users, which was obviously very upsetting. I decided to create another one, but after being in close to 300 circles, being part of only four people’s circles is very disappointing. Point is, Google should have a way to deactivate accounts (similar to what Facebook does) as supposed to just deleting all the information stored under a user’s page, especially if you cannot opt out of some services Google provides.

  • Everything is going Digital# Digital World!

  • Laura at CK-12 Foundation

    I’ve struggled with Google+ since it first launched. I was first to jump on board and get excited about the possibilities, but now Google+ has become a ghost town for most industries. Although some are thriving in the environment, most are not. It frustrates me that Google has decided to rank Google+ posts higher in search just because it’s their own social network. I’d really rather not waste time in Google+ and put my time and effort in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Sarah Lokitis

    If you mean it will be hard to find others in your field on Google+, I recommend searching within Google+ on your key terms to find other pages and people to add to your circles.

  • Sarah Lokitis

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Google just revamped their whole privacy policy, so it is important for users to understand what the changes mean for them.

    At this time, I can’t say whether Google+ will become the next Facebook, but it is very important to pay attention as search results will be greatly affected by Google+ and +1 ranking signals.  

  • Great article, thanks for taking the time to explain! …I have one question.  What about the Google results for people who don’t want to sign up for Google+? Will Google still website site rank the same, or will they go by what site is the most followed or “Plus’ed” ? 

  • I think it stands to reason that if you have the power to influence and get as many people as possible to sign up and use one of your new platforms to increase its exposure, viability and profitability, then you certainly would.
    Thanks for the great article and explanation Sarah. Looks like I better get busy and get my company page up there!

  • These are really good techniques, thanks for taking the time to write them up.  

    Taking off my marketing hat here for a moment: we are not “are losing valuable information.”

    This is information we are no longer gaining. There is an important difference here. Losing implies it was our information to begin with, but it’s not. I suspect as culture catches up with technology, consumer browsing information will be opt-in only, similar to how email newsletters and telephone marketing works.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing how Google advances with G+, and looking forward to more articles from you, Sarah.

  • Nice! Thanks for sharing this. Very informative and something that I can definitely use to up my game. 🙂 Haven’t gotten that much results with Google + and social search yet but it’s something I’m definitely looking to do. 🙂

  • Sarah Lokitis

     Hi Devani! If users are not signed into any Google product, they will not see “Search Plus” results. I can’t claim to know Google’s algorithm, but if I had to guess, +1’s may still affect rankings.

  • Sarah Lokitis

     Thanks, Dave! It will be interesting to keep up with how Google adapts its personalized and social search based on how users react to the changes.

  • Dan

    Thanks for this post, Sarah. So far, I’ve found the “personalized results” form Google very irritating, and I keep turning it off. It seems like Google is trying to force businesses to use G+ as a way of getting more people to use it. I agree with Laura; it seems like G+ is not worth the time. Facebook has been a much better way to reach and interact with my market.

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  • Sarah Lokitis

    You are not alone in your thinking. According to a study published on Search Engine Land, while people love Google, the majority are not happy about personalized results. Let me know what you think!

  • Brian

    I had been on G+ building a community from scratch for 5 months now.  The interaction on Google+ and in the Google+ Hangout has been amazing.  No matter if you like it or not, social + search is coming.  Embrace it guys!

  • Sarah — I have both a Google personal page and business page, which I set up and never use. However, I learned that the Google Badge (which I have on my blog) will only link to business pages. I’d like to drop my business page because I don’t want to do updates to both my personal and business page. Your thoughts on whether Google will downgrade me for dropping my business account (and deleting my Google Badge)? Thanks for your thoughts about this.

  • I was an early adopter of G+ and have since launched my biz page. Problem is, I’m finding I’m duplicating a lot of information. Many who have my personal profile in their circles have not added my biz page to their circles. And since biz pages can only circle other biz pages, It’s a bit frustrating. How are other people dealing with this issue?

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Jeannette, I recommend keeping your Google+ Page for Business and adding a link on your blog/site to your personal Google+ account as well. It’s important to update both places, but if it’s not feasible, at least keep your Google+ Page active.

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  • My company, Omnibeat, understands the brilliance and importance of Google+, but have yet to gain the following we want.  Our target demographic has yet to join the Google+ party, and it is hard to scale the rankings with so many prominent bloggers and writers already flooding the social media market.  How do I help my company set itself apart from the bulk?  We already  have been creating great content several times a week.  We have seen some growth, but very minimal.  How do I get more people to put us in their circle?


  • Sarah Lokitis

    Check out Social Media Examiner posts, “12 Google+ Marketing Tips From the Pros” and “6 Google+ Tips for Businesses.” Those articles include some good tips for promoting your Page.

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  • Rob

    Is it possible to have this explained in plain English? I didn’t have a clue what you were talking about. Is there someway I can bring myself up to speed in this area? My lack of understanding is probably linked to my personal attitudes towards and usage of social media – would rather watch paint dry.
    Though I am not on Facebook, I have looked at the those of relatives and friends and cannot understand why anyone would find this interesting (Andy Warhol was right). Am I the only one who would rather go scuba diving, play golf, go fishing or any other activity rather than waste my time on social media. I do understand that there is high quality and useful information, but you have to go through so much boring crap to find it that I don’t have the patience. Does anyone else feel this way?

  • Ed


    You’re not the only one. Unfortunately we are been forced down this route. Every day it is forced down our collective throats.


  • Nice information G+ is still quite new but it’s so important this year to get on there and start interacting with people. This social search is going to be huge and with personal search results the more you can get your business on G+ the more you will be found.

    Another thing to mention is the verifying authorship of your content will make sure that your profile is displayed in the search results to get even more profile exposure.

  • illoh ifeoma

    Thanks for educating us extensively on this. I’ve had conversations with people about the benefit of joining the google social network, many just turn it down immediately out of ignorance but as I get them to understand that it affects their site rankings and help with SEO, they get interested. It’s a good thing that google is indexing the G+ pages in search results.

  • I think G+ search results have powerful potential to drive specific, personalized results to users. I like it because it allows me to search for something and have results that are more relevant to my interests appear. This is great for Niche companies who’ve become a store of information. Now they have a chance to deliver this information to the world and in return be rewarded with higher traffic. Good incentives.

  • same here!

  • Colleen Jorgensen

    I’m a bit confused (as usual). Is Social Search the new term for SPYW? Another thing, even when I’m logged into G+ I don’t see Related People & Pages. I’ve tried different search terms, but nothing. I’m wondering if its because there aren’t many creative bloggers, and therefore few +1’s, for these particular searches.

    Another comment – unrelated to above – I think the sooner people quit comparing Google+ to Facebook, the better. While it may be true that Google needs some serious PR/marketing help, it’s true that it’s more about the overall Google experience and less about Google+ being a social network. 

  • Personally I feel that Google social search promotes biased results, as it will show results from the pages or profiles which you have liked or circled.

    Sometimes it’s good if you really follow some experienced and great people who are actually mentor in their field. But if you follow only an average person then he/she many influence the quality search.

  • I agreed with your points, I think Google social search influence your results by promoting pages which got likes and shares from your circles. It’s good if you added only expert people and it could be bad if you follow some unknown guys!!!

  • HK Visa Handbook

    Me too. The initial foray into the Google+ space was less than satisfying. I understand the rationale for prioritising it but the whole user experience is frustrating and as for Circles, there’s hardly anyone in Hong Kong  to invite!!

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  • Sarah Lokitis

    Thanks, Paul. Yes, authorship is a great way to improve click-through-rate of content on Google. I just read a study that CTR improves by over 400%!

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Good point, Illoh. The benefits of Google+ aren’t immediately apparent because other social networks are already much more established, but boy are they there! 

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Also, Jeannette, check out the Google Developers guide for personal badge configuration: 

  • 400% that’s insane. Where did you read that?

  • I will start putting your suggestions to the test and let you know how it turns out. Thanks for much for the article!

  • markfrancombe

    im very interested in what kinds of businesses are finding working with social media is useful for generating actual sales. My business works In a much more conventional field, where good old fashioned cold calling and personal person to person sales meetings generate business. But I am now researching a new project where selling the idea world-wide via more viral/social methods might be useful. But as many posters have pointed out, its a balance between Time spent on Social Media verdens actual sales is what I want to understand, is it gonna be worth it?

  • Sarah Lokitis

    Thank you, Shara! 

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  • Great article Sarah! I’ve been keeping an eye out on the effects of Google+ since they started implementing posts into the SERPS it will be fun to see what happens next! 

  • Stuart Nicoll

    Would very much appreciate some comments on Google business photos. We are specialist in 360 photography and are about to be accredited as a Trusted Google Photographer doing business 360’s to add onto Google Business pages and ultimately Google Street view.

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  • Sarah Lokitis

    Thanks, Shannon!

  • michael semmence

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the tips. I manage the social media activity for the charity I work for, a medical association called ISUOG. I am struggling to find a case for us to use Google +, can you recommend anything? and

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  • I have a slightly off topic question about showing up in Google search… I notice how SME shows up and then indented below there are 6-8 listings in two columns for pages withing the SME domain… how do I make that happen for my site, and what is that called? Something like “Google Exploded Search Results”???

  • GHDuffy

    Hello Jason! Google Webmaster Tools lets you to do this. Once you’ve set up your site on Google Webmaster Tools, you can access a feature called Search Appearance. This feature lets you adjust what appears when a Google search is returned with your site.

    In the menu beneath Search Appearance, a tool called Sitelinks allows you to select which pages of your site will show up in Google’s search results as a recommended link. You can demote or promote specific sub-links from your website and hide others.

    You can hear/read more about it on our “Discovery of the Week” from this podcast episode: