Google integrates Wimbledon’s Google+ page into SERPs. Brands to follow?

Google has continued to enhance its search pages with additional content, most recently enhancing it’s first page for Wimbledon related searches. Currently, searching “Wimbledon” pulls up a vast screen of maps, scores, match details, reviews and other information.

Wimbledon Search Results on Google

For some time now, Google has been embedding clever tricks into its search pages, such as local cinema listings, world news, sport scores, recipes and more, but what’s most interesting about Wimbledon related searches this time round is that in the bottom right, Google has integrated content from the Wimbledon official Google+ page.

With Google placing such a significant effort on increasing their stake in the social web, could this be the first step in embedding Google+ page results when users search for brands?

As I wrote last week, with Google already closing the doors on Google Pages, migrating all location results to Google+ Local, the search giant is already forcing brands to exist on the social network. But the embedding of data into the right hand side of the page, rather than the search results, might just be the tipping point for brands to choose to invest a great deal more time and energy in developing their pages and driving their audience to engage with the brand on Google+.

Not another Buzz

Google+ should not be mistaken as another Google Buzz, a social networking, microblogging and messaging tool left to die by Google at the end of last year. Google has invested huge ammounts of time, energy and money into ensuring the success of Google+, including directly linking the annual bonuses of over 25% of Google employees to the success or failure of their social products.

Whilst questions continue to arise around the user engagement levels on Google+, it remains true that Google are not letting up on trying to capture the social web for themselves.

Google+ Local replaces Google Places – Businesses forced to engage

Earlier this month, Google officially closed the doors on Google Places, replacing it with Google+ Local, bringing all local search results and business location pages into Google+, forcing brands to engage with the social network.

Over 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into Google+ Local pages, with the goal of merging all business listings into one single entity used across the Google product network, including maps, search, social and mobile.

The launch is a significant step in Google’s crusade to reshape the web, intertwining all of their products under the Google+ umbrella, creating a much more social web.

Google+ has been relatively overshadowed by Facebook’s IPO in the media recently, and with reports of Google+ usage slipping becoming commonplace, the public perception of the search giant’s social network has not been the strongest.

However, the company’s social media strategy remains a key focus for Google’s CEO Larry Page, who little over a week into taking over the reins back in November 2011, took the move to directly link the annual bonuses of over 25 per cent of Google employees to the success or failure of their social products.

Making locations social

Google+ Local is a very social product in itself, influencing a user’s search results by taking into account the places the user’s contacts, friends, family members and colleagues have visited and reviewed.

Users will also be able to share opinions and upload photos. These reviews and photos will help the user’s friends when they’re checking out a place online, and are also integrated into the aggregate score that other people see around the world. No longer tucked away deep in the Google Maps listings, reviews are now brought to the user in a single platform.

With many brands already having a presence on Google+, the next phase will be to integrate the brand’s Google+ Local listings and reviews with the Google+ brand page, creating a single experience for the user, and a single Google listing for the brand that will exist across the majority of Google products.

Google Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering at Google announced in a blog post on Wednesday that Google will “soon extend these social experiences to more local Google+ pages in the weeks and months ahead”, but provided several examples of how this will look for brands in the near future.

Online reviews have had a significant effect on consumer behaviour in the past few years, particularly for businesses like restaurants, shops and brands with retail presences. With Google+, rather than reviews being ‘siloed’ on separate forums or review sites, they’re now centralised around the brand’s primary listing on Google, which will inevitably be seen by a much larger group of consumers.

Social and search

It’s worth noting that the tie in with Google products will not just affect reviews and brand pages, but in the near future the places your friends visit are likely to influence a user’s search rankings too. Therefore businesses not looking to maximise their Google+ presence stand to lose out to local competitors with a stronger focus on the platform, both in terms of online traffic and in-store footfall.

Without a strong branded presence on Google+, businesses stand the risk of their brand message being overshadowed by reviews and customer comments, which if negative is certainly not a good thing. Without a branded presence on Google+, business listings will exist at the mercy of the reviewer.

This overlap of Google products will undoubtedly twist the arms of businesses in the near future, forcing them to engage with Google+ in order to continue to perform well across the search platform. Do not bet on Google+ failing to become a significant online marketing pillar for businesses in the next few years.

 

Google+ and politics – Could hangouts replace Question Time and Party Political Broadcasts?

Following from the launch of Google+ pages, the search giant’s latest foray into social networking has gained another boost.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama has joined Google+.

Obama is on Google Plus

Actually, Obama’s presence is in fact a brand page run by his campaign team as appose to the President himself, but his arrival is no less prominent.

If the Obama election campaign of 2008 taught us anything, it was the power that social media marketing can have in an election campaign. Social media allows politicians to get in front of the demographics who wouldn’t necessarily watch the usual channels – question time, or party political broadcasts. We’re no doubt in a new age of communication, and politicians (much like brands) need to learn to adapt to reach their audience.

I thoroughly expect to see a great deal more social marketing from all UK parties in the next election. Each major party in the UK all have dedicated marketing teams, but neither David CameronNick Clegg or Ed Miliband are using social media marketing to its full potential.

Google+ and Politics

The most exciting potential for politicians to interact with constituents in my view is through hangouts – an ideal medium for politicians to show an unscripted, and thus seemingly more truthful conversation. Perhaps a hangout with Cameron and Clegg discussing solutions for the housing shortage, or other key topics?

Social marketing provides a platform for politicians to show a personal side to voters, and reach constituents directly. Whoever takes full advantage of this will be in good stead to win the next UK election.

Facebook is stealing the talent

This cool infographic from Top Prospect Data Labs shows Facebook seem to be winning the war between the big tech companies for the best young talent out there. They do have very cool offices after all…

Via stateofsearch.com

Google will replace your wallet sooner than you think

Google Wallet Logo

Yesterday, Google officially announced the launch of their latest product, Google Wallet, at a joint press conference in New York with MasterCard and Citibank. Initially available on the company’s Android mobile handset (with plans to roll out the technology across other mobile platforms), users will be able to wave their phone in front of an in-store reader to make purchases in stores.

Barclaycard have been utilising the Near Field communications (NFC) technology for the last few years now, with their contactless payment readers in many stores across the UK. However, the real benefit of Google’s venture is that not only will you be able to partner it with more than one credit card, but in the future you will also be able to link your store loyalty cards and coupons.

Combining this with Google’s Groupon competitor, Google Offers, also launched this week, suddenly bells start to ring, and you realise that Google, with its primary school colours, left the start line a long time ago, and the competition are still tying their shoe laces. Rather than emailing customers with 2-for-1 deals on their Wednesday night dinners at Pizza Express, Google will have the ability to slip coupons right into consumers’ wallets. Combine this with GPS and the possibilities for advertisers, for brands… It’s endless!

It’s not all clear skies for Google though. PayPal filed a law suit in California against Google, alleging that the search giant hired two former PayPal executives to obtain trade secrets for the project.

But in the grand scheme of things, I don’t see Google loosing much sleep over this. Because whilst other internet giants have been stealing the headlines recently, Google are about to assert their dominance as kings of the internet. So it’s time to say goodbye to the faithful leather friend in your back pocket that you’ve relied on so much to keep your financial life in order. Your mobile phone’s had front pocket real estate privilege for some time now anyway.

(photo cc licensed flickr photo – somegeekintn)