In a move to blur the lines between social media and search, Google has rolled out two updates: Google+ pages for brands and businesses, and the integration of these pages onto the search engine results page (SERP). As of now, only some brands, such as T-Mobile (see below) are showing up in the search results, yet it is anticipated that this will become increasingly widespread. So, what is the impact of these pages and what does this mean for advertisers?
The Social Impact on Paid Search
Initially, +1s were URL specific and could only be accumulated when users +1ed the URL within the SERP or within an Adwords ad that directed traffic to the same landing page. Now, Google is displaying +1s with ads on Google.com as well as on the display network. Google notes that ads with +1s tend to have higher click-through rates (CTR) and typically perform better because they have been socially recommended.
Often times Google+ is compared to Facebook, especially due to the connection between the “like” and “+1″ button; however, it is important to keep in mind the difference between search engines versus social engines. According to Google, people that search on Google billions of times a day are often looking for brands and businesses. As a result, these brand pages help people develop meaningful connections through their search queries. Previously, the Direct Connect feature allowed users to navigate to a Google+ brand page by including a “+” before the search terms. Because brand pages are now appearing on the SERP without the use of Direct Connect, users are immediately exposed to the brand’s recent posts and pictures within the Google+ brand page.
The Google+1 Button Boost & What Advertisers Should Know
The launch of the Google+ brand profile increases the importance of +1s in advertising. Most are aware the +1 button allows users to publicly endorse brands within organic search results and even on paid search and display ads. Paid search ads in Google also carry the same +1s that organic search results carry. As a result, paid search ads that link to sites many people have +1’d are more likely to receive higher placements within paid results. This can influence a user’s decision about which ad to click. Paid searchers will have to account for this in their pay-per-click strategy as +1s grow in popularity.
There is greater opportunity for the advertiser to create strong connections between marketing channels, including both paid and organic search. These brand pages aggregate all of users +1 activity throughout the brand’s organic listings and paid search advertisements. Essentially, brand pages represent a user’s engagement with the brand anywhere within the Google search web.
Because advertisers have control over +1 activity and user behavior, ads become more relevant and brand interaction increases. Advertisers should pay close attention to this interaction and influence in order to plan for the future. With an increasing number of brands utilizing social media as part of their overall advertising efforts, it will be crucial to take note how many brands shift focus away from Facebook to Google+.