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September 13, 2011

SMX East 2011: What Every Paid Search Marketer Needs To Know About Google+

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Google+ debuted with an invitation only “hello” just 10 weeks ago and today we gather as SMX East takes its first up close and personal look at the who, what, where and “WTF” we should expect from Google and the +1.

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What we know:
Google is using +1 results to make search results more personalized for individuals – but Matt Cutts also said “we’ll look at it as a potential signal to improve search quality as well.”  [Hmmmmmm.]

What we don’t know:
How will +1  affect things like Quality Score or CPCs? Is this the next step forward in retargeting for ads?We all know how long Google has been desperately trying to be social.  Then came June 28th and Google+ stepped up to the plate. Let’s hear it for our panel, the pioneers of Google+.

Moderated by Matt Van Wagner, the session started with Josh Dreller, VP Media Technology & Analytics, giving us the basics of Google+ and how it compares to FaceBook.

Good feedback so far – especially from name droppers like Mashable. One review was quoted as saying “If FaceBook and Twitter had a baby they would call it Google+.”

So, we must pay attention search marketers.

  • After 10 weeks, 10 Billion items shared a day. Wow!
  • Growth is spectacular! After one month 18 million users.
  • Today ranks in about 25 million.
  • One little factoid:  83% accounts inactive!

Ok, but it is Google and our panel seems to have lots of faith that Google+ is something to not ignore!

Google is hitting all the right touch points for success: will spend cash, buy people, leadership, smart, clean and intuitive design, search dominance, monetizable and mobile component is spot on!

We took the Google+ tour and hit all the main destinations:

  • Profile Page – Similar to a FaceBook profile, but better.
  • Circles – big buzz on how they influence – segment social connection into groups/folders – like no other social network.
  • Huddles – group text to a friend.
  • Streams
  • Sparks – your ticket to content you care about on the Web.
  • Hangouts – video group chat up to 10 people.
  • Games
  • Video Chat
  • Photo Albums – a key differentiator.
  • Google Talk integration.
  • Privacy issues – Google made this a non-issue compared to Facebook.

For all the details on Google+, check out the complete guide to Google+ on Mashable.

Digging Deeper in Google+ and Paid Search

Next up is Benjamin Vigneron, Director, Analytics & Automation, eSearchVision (@eSearchVision). He takes on the question of the hour: What does Google+ mean to paid search and the next question: why we need the +1 button. Why?

Well, for starters it is a positive annotation that basically means people “Like It” whether it is your website page or blog post. The more +1 you get can make some results look more trust worthy. The +1 button enables searchers to recommend or “vote” for search results. As of today, you must be logged into Google to see the people in your circle who +1 a page.

Google +1 Points of Interest

  • Placed directly on Web pages –  just like the Like button.
  • Allows people to share with Google+ profile.
  • Means people “Like it” when they +1.
  • Connects web pages, search results and Google+.
  • Impact in Quality Score.
  • Direct link between SEO and SEM.

Google + 1 and Quality Score

Vigneron walks us through the scenarios of how Google +1 is expected to affect at least three of the four main search Quality Score factors. He also notes we can expect the same for display network.

Google +1 Impact on Campaign Management

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Facebook! Google is now collecting more info with access to our Google+ profiles. They are getting to know and mine data on who we are, target our interests, to what our related friends.

So let’s just say it: Search is getting social, more than ever. It is possible and predicted Google + will power Google AdWords with age, gender, likes and interests!

Don’t panic or get too excited. Google has a little catching up to do when it comes to not so minor details such as users must be logged into Google to access social DNA.

For now, Vigneron suggests we watch, stay in the Google+ game, integrate +1, prepare as Google integrates everything into Google+. They first must master searching while on a social network and playing catch up to Facebook’s Like button and social maturity.

The Google+ “predictor” is next up! 

What is it, what is the impact now, how should we think about it?

Mathew Guiver, Paid Search Manager with e-storm international takes us through a series of predictions that really made the audience say, “WOW! I better get my Google game face on!”

His very insightful presentation tagged and hyperlinked what we can expect from the future effect of Google+1 on paid search advertising with a reminder:  “As the Google+ community grows, we can expect the +1s to increase accordingly.”

The Google+ stat of the session: Google+ is on a trajectory to surpass other social networks, including Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace,  becoming the number two network after Facebook, “in the next year.”

Ok now for the Google+ predictions …

Prediction No. 1

  • +1 to have more of an impact on average position than Quality Score [hmmmm].
  • +1 translates into an increase of click-through rates.

Prediction No. 2

  • The value of +1.
  • If a +1 increases your CPA, then it also increases your ROI.
  • When money talks, the big bosses listen.
  • Higher conversion rates because of the click-through mentality.

Prediction No. 3

  • The end of PPC landing page as we know them.
  • Would you dare send a PPC click to a blog post? Maybe! +1 are shared between organic and sponsored listings. Landing pages and destination URLs will take a shift to a more organic and sharable environment.
  • Traditional PPC landing pages will not benefit from this crossover lift and potential and retargeting – like effect- landing pages will be built for both organic and paid.

Prediction No. 4

  • Bridging gap between PPC and social.
  • Direct increase – Send traffic to blog with social sharing tools – no more contact forms! Google+ will mean it is more valuable to share a link than fill out a form. Driving paid traffic to Google+ profiles when branded pages become available, so you can get the lift in social sharing.

Prediction No. 5

  • Promoted +1s.
  • Google to monetize Google+ and +1s.
  • We just might see promoted +1 accounts.

Prediction No. 6

  • Demographic bidding for sponsored search ads.
  • Highly targeted demographic bidding will come on religion, sexual preferences – this is really starting to look and feel like Facebook.

Prediction No. 7

  • Prediction targeting.
  • Google related tool bar. Do you see this in the Google+ future? Prediction ads based on user activity?

Parting Google+ words:

  • Be part of the future, not the past or present…

Add +1 to your websites, the future looks like Google+ with a hint of Facebook!

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