A lot of people are focusing on Google Plus. They’re talking about the SEO benefits. They’re talking about the marketing benefits. They’re throwing a lot of numbers at the wall to see which ones stick. In fact, they’ve done a really good job of marketing Google’s product for them. Congratulations – you’re officially working for Google pro bono.
Google Plus Search Your World – My Untrusted SERPS
The beauty of running your own business with a small group of trusted individuals is the fact that they’re trusted individuals. I trust them and their opinions – but does that mean that Jahnelle, Hilland, Massimo, Dava or anyone else we have on our team is automatically going to like what I like? Of course not. –And while I trust their opinions, I can assure you I’m not going to click on whatever results the search engines give me just because one of my trusted friends recommended them.
Yes, that was a dig at Google Plus Search Your World, and what kind of name is that? Why not "G+ Search" or "Plus Search" even? Who’s going to say that whole thing?
I’m not the only one boohooing about Google’s latest "ignore the user" actions. Although some are saying, "give Google time" or "stop being a hater", I’m personally sick of Google+. Aren’t you? Am I the only one ready for another search engine (besides Bing) to take over? I think not.
90+ Million Have Embraced Google Plus? Prove It…
I’m really tired of numbers being thrown around. Not too long ago, I had someone try to convince me that 30% of a client’s target market can be found on Google Plus. They waved this percentage at me, as if it meant something. They aren’t the only person who’s tried to sell me with "jump-to-conclusion" numbers. As an online marketer, SEO professional, brand developer or whatever you want to call me, I’m not fooled.
The 30% they touted is based off erroneous conclusions. 30% of their search terms are coming in as "not provided". This means, supposedly, that 30% of their target market is signed in. This means that 30% of their target market has a Google Plus account. This means, the person throwing this percentage around has made more leaps than a kangaroo being chased by an angry, rabid dog. In fact, they’ve jumped to as many conclusions as Google throwing the "90+" number around.
The FACTS are this:
- Google, throughout its various services (of which search is the biggest service used), has several billion users.
- The number of users taken as a whole does not mean there are the same numbers of Google+ users
- Just because someone has a Google account does not mean they have a Google Plus account
- Just because someone has a Google Plus account doesn’t mean they’re actually using it
In short, with the Plus Search changes Google has completely done away with their "User Experience Rules". For example:
- It doesn’t strong-arm people to use features they don’t want
- It doesn’t intrude on people’s lives
- Google teams think twice before sacrificing simplicity in pursuit of a less important feature
Wooooow. Somebody at Google must have decided to throw these things out the window. Plus Search is intrusive; its addition seems to be based off feeling everyone should use Google Plus. It isn’t simple. It’s a much less important feature from a user prospective than the search engine results. – And yet, here we are with this stupid, intrusive, irritating, opt-out instead of opt-in, annoying "feature".
When Being a Trusted Resource Really Means Something
All these applications – these social platforms – are meant to be trust builders. In fact, a lot of what we do is trust and authority building. However, whether it’s Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook or any other social platform, I have to wonder if it’s gone way beyond anything that makes sense.
Not to bust anyone’s fuzzy feelings, but think about all the people you have following you, and that you follow. Out of them all, how many have you ever worked with? How many do you know personally? For that matter, how many do you talk to – even if it’s just occasionally?
Now look on the other side;
- How many of them ask for recommendations from you that you don’t know?
- How many feel that you’d be willing to promote them simply because they follow you?
- And how ridiculous is that assumption?
I don’t know about you, but when I recommend someone, I’ve either worked with them, know them personally, or they’ve made such an impression on me that I want to work with them. I’m just not convinced that promoting and recommending strangers, especially if you’re considered a "trusted source", is the brightest thing to do.
Neither, in my opinion, is the following frenzy that occasionally seems to happen. If you don’t’ think someone is important enough to talk to, why the hell would you follow them in the first place? Why would you follow someone, only to ignore them when they say hello?
All that glitter may not be gold
This is part of the reason why I’m skeptical of Google Plus. On Twitter I have plenty of followers, but I also know that if I reach out to most of them, they’ll reach back. Together, we’ve built an involved, active community.
On G+, however, where you can chat to your heart’s content and have tons of room to reply, I have over 2,000 followers and talk with maybe 50 of them. Not because I haven’t tried, but because they don’t care to answer. To me, that means they’ve put me in a circle for some other reason than connecting – and I don’t care to find out what it is, to tell you the truth.
I refuse to follow these complete strangers who have no wish to converse with me. I refuse to voice, recommend or promote someone unless I believe they’re worth it. I’ve worked hard to become a trusted resource, as many of you have, and I’m not going to throw it away with carelessness.
Am I being unreasonable? Should I blindly promote people, whether I think they’re ethical or not, because we’re on the same network? Am I over thinking this? Am I the only one that thinks trust is more than a commodity to pass around?
Where Google Went Horribly, Horribly Wrong
The problem with what Google has done is that they’ve assumed a lot of things. For example, they’ve assumed that social connection = trust. They’ve assumed that I want to see everything you recommend, simply because we have something in common and chat (or not) on G+.
What I see is this – with G+ integrated into search, the places you decide to share will pop up in my results. While I might respect your opinion on social media or search engine optimization, I don’t care to see the latest sleazy gif you found humorous enough to share with your G+ followers. Thanks, but no thanks.
The brilliant minds that decided to integrate my SERPs and my social ignored that little tidbit. They fail to see that there’s a line – or should be.
Not only that, but Google has been a trusted resource. It’s where you go when you want to know something; you Google it. It’s a friggin’ verb. By integrating G+ into the SERPs, they’re recommending and promoting people (not businesses) they don’t know. For those with a G+ account, the SERPs are no longer about getting the best results.
All of a sudden, the SERPs are a popularity contest – and we’re all going to be the losers.