In regards to Search Engines, Google is and has been the largest and most used search engine, As a powerhouse in the search engine world, Google certainly has the ability to integrate search with social! A result of Google owning the Search Engine Market is Google AdWords. Google AdWords is Google's main advertising product and main source of revenue. Google's net revenues for: “advertising & other” (as listed in Google’s 2012 six month report ending June30) were $14 billion. If it all relates to advertising, then another strategic move was the creation of Google Analytics back in 2005. Google acquired Urchin Software Corp. in April of 2005 and produced their branded version by November of 2005 (Source Wikipedia). Many of us experienced web designers are familiar with the name Urchin as the former leader in the Web Statistic Market prior to Google acquiring them. Google Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. Google Analytics is a product that is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service used by all of my fellow web designers. A valuable aspect of Google Analytics is its Integration with AdWords. This allows business owners to track and manage their online advertising campaigns in an environment where all the data lives under one roof.
Now back to Google Plus Local: Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus, sometimes abbreviated as G+) is a multilingual social networking and identity service owned and operated by Google Inc. It was launched in June 2011. As of July 2012, it has a total of 250 million registered users, many of which, are merely Google Accounts users who were registered automatically when the service was launched. Although the general public has come to understand the concept of an online social network, Google insists on calling Google+ a "social layer" as Google describes on their website, which is not just a destination site, but rather something that Google has added as a layer across many of its properties.
As Google steps up to bat in the Social Network arena, let us not forget that Google has attempted this previously. Google+ is considered the company's fourth foray into social networking, following Google Buzz (launched 2010, retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (launched 2008, retired by March 1st, 2012) and Orkut (launched in 2004, now operated entirely by subsidiary Google Brazil). That being said, I personally consider Google+ to be most viable competitor to Facebook. In November 2011 Google+ was integrated into the account creation process for other Google services, such as Google Mail. According to independent analyses of its growth in December 2011, the site was adding an estimated number of 625,000 new users a day, which may total 400 million members by the end of 2012. (Source Google)
Another 2011 Google acquisition was Zagat. Similar to Yelp’s business model, Google Plus Local will combine with Zagat to give users a more complete and detailed restaurant platform to review, rate, and choose restaurants to dine in and allow them to share their experiences on social networks. Google Plus Locall promotes the new endeavor as a way to discover great places through reviews and photos.
Something tells me Google Plus Local is here to stay! With that being said, if you are a business owner (even if you do not have a website) there are some actions you must take to ensure your company makes the switch to Google Plus Local. If you already have a Google Place that you have claimed, it is very likely that Google will migrate your “Google Place” into the new format. However it will be up to you to customize the look and feel of your new “Google Plus Local Page”.
In conclusion and returning full circle to the realm of Search Engine Optimization, (in which Google is a major player), we know that activity on social networks can generate referrals for your website. Knowing Google’s model of “taking over the internet“, would it be too farfetched to assume that as Google modifies their search engine algorithms, they might favor businesses and websites that are active in their community? I believe that it is a safe assumption that those who are active on the Google Plus platform, will enjoy better search engine results, specifically in the Google Search Engine. In any case, in the spirit of being a good content manager and social media blogger, join Google Plus Local and stay active on all fronts! Being mindful of SEO as it relates to Social Media will never change. Will Google Plus over throw Twitter and/or Facebook? Who knows? For now Google Plus has becomes one more place to add for Social Media Managers, to add to their list of performing weekly posts, status, tweets and now g+!