Google+ is quickly becoming an important factor in how Google’s wonderfully clean search engine results pages look, even if their social media network has been a comparative flop to the goliath that is FaceBook.

Recent changes to how some search terms look is continuing to place more emphasis on keywords for known brands or those linked to Google+ Local accounts. This is giving some websites far more exposure than ambiguous keyword phrases or sites not following Google’s new found marching beat.

The image below shows another small yet noticeable step in the increasing need to use Google’s, wonderfully not FaceBook, social media / business directory…

Google plus serps

Recent changes to Google Places, now Google+ Local, strongly suggests that it won’t suffer the same metaphorical unplugging that many of the search giant’s other side projects have received — such as Google Wave, Google Video, Google Answers and many more!

Branding and social media

Google+ is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Too much time and effort has been put into the social network and additions focused on Google+ are now common place in search results, one of which is demonstrated by my remarkably handsome boss below.

Google+ Yousaf

However charmingly good looking my boss may be *cough* pay rise please *cough* it may not be incredibly helpful to see personal information unless searching for a person. Obvious huh? It may be a helpful addition to some search terms, but the movement towards integration of Google’s services and association of branding is already causing issues.

Code can be designed to look wonderful, perform amazingly fast, scale well, but has a habit of breaking when you don’t want it to. A small change to Google’s algorithm can make competition for certain keywords almost impossible, as highlighted by a familiar face in Dear @Mattcutts, Domain Crowding is shockingly broken.

Google Inc.

Overall, I think the recent changes Google have put into place have been excellent. They have made some great design choices giving continuity across most of the brand, even if the usability is still a little janky in places (no next/previous buttons in Gmail if using anything other than the “classic” Inbox type. *ggrr why?*).

I am a little concerned that the integration of the new aspects could be detrimental to the core search algorithm as parts still come across as in the beta phase. It’s worth noting the colossal amount of traffic Google drives to websites each day and a change that affects just 1% of search queries will lead to a lot of very unhappy website owners… and balding SEO technicians.

Thanks Google!

The next post will focus on how to tie all the new elements of Google+ and Google+ Local together to increase your exposure on search result pages. A few small changes can help in many ways such as showing a map, contact details, or profile picture and all of which are great ways to make your website stand out from those not doing the same.

You can also have a cheesy profile picture plastered all over Google’s search results like my bearded boss!