The big search news over the past week has been the launch of Google Plus, but lots of other stuff has been going on as well. Read on for the run down.
Google social analytics
Plus isn’t the only social launch Google had recently. The company also pushed out social analytics features in both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
If you use the new version of Google Analytics, you’ll now see a social engagement report. Use the social plugin to configure your site for different social media platforms to monitor the behavior of visitors coming from those platforms. Do those coming from Twitter convert better than those coming from Facebook? Do those who “+1″ a page spend more time on it? Those are the sorts of questions the new social reports aim to answer.
You can also use Google Webmaster Tools to see how +1 activity is impacting how searchers interact with your pages in search results. In particular, you can see if the click-through rate of a result improves when it includes +1 annotations.
This is just one example of how the silos of the web are integrating. You shouldn’t think of “social” users and “search” users when you are doing audience analysis for your site. You instead have one audience who many be coming to your site any number of ways. Engaging in social media can help your site be more visible in search, as results become more personalized and pages that our friends have shared, liked, and “plussed” show up more often for us.
Some may wonder if integrations like this mean that Google is weighting social signals more strongly in search. But those kinds of questions miss the point. The specific signals will continue to change, but the important thing is to engage your audiences wherever they are. The lines will continue to blur.
- Webmaster Tools: Google +1 Reporting
- Google Analytics Social Plug-in Tracking
- +1 reporting in Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics
Google Realtime Search goes offline “temporarily”
A few day ago, Google’s realtime search mysteriously disappeared. The reason: Google’s agreement with Twitter expired and Google is now working on a new system to display realtime information. While this has temporarily impacted a number of results pages (such as top shared links and top tweets on Google News), it has not impacted Google’s social results, which show results that your friends have shared.
New Google UI
Google, Twitter and the FTC
But the Google world is not just about launches. The FTC formally notified Google that they are reviewing the business. Google says that they are “unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are” but that they “focus on the user [and] all else will follow.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation focuses on Google’s core search advertising business, including “whether Google searches unfairly steer users to the company’s own growing network of services at the expense of rival providers.”
The FTC may also being investigating Twitter, due to how Twitter may be acquiring applications.
Google Plus (or is it +?)
And of course we have to dig into that well-chronicled launch. As you’re no doubt aware, Google launched their latest social effort last week: Google+. Or Google Plus. Or Plus. Or +. I don’t know. But it’s different from Plus One (+1?). Also it’s not Wave, Buzz, Social Circles. Or Facebook.
I’ve just started using it, so I don’t have a verdict on it yet, although I don’t know that I buy intoGoogle’s premise that “online sharing is awkward. Even broken.” And that Google Plus will fix that. It doesn’t mean I won’t like the product, either. Google is of course under more scrutiny than usual since earlier social launches haven’t gone over as well as they’d have liked. What do you all think of it?
Lots of sites have done comprehensive run downs, including:
- Search Engine Land: The Google+ Social Network Finally Arrives | The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly | First Look
- Mashable: Google Launches Google+ To Battle Facebook
- TechCrunch: Google First Sign
- PCWorld: Hands-On First Impressions
- Time Techland: Securing a Google+ Invite Isn’t Easy Yet
- ReadWriteWeb: First Night: This is Very Cool
- Scripting News: Opting-Out
Yahoo search BOSS updates
Yahoo launched updates to their BOSS (Build your own search service) program. If you’re a developer who uses Yahoo BOSS, you might be interested in the changes.
Schema.org and rel=author
A few weeks ago, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo launched the schema.org alliance, which provides joint support for 100+ microdata formats. At the same time, Google announced support for rel=author, which enables site owners to provide structured markup on a page that specifies the author of the content.
The schema.org announcement seems to be a foundational announcement to encourage platform providers, such as content management system creators, to build in support of microdata formats for future use by the search engines.
On the other hand, Google has already launched integration of rel=author with search results. You can see examples of how this looks with results for the initial set of authors Google is working with.