Although it has been moving in this direction for quite some time, Google search is getting more personal as their most recent format update, “Search Plus Your World” takes a bigger plunge into personalized results than ever before. When logged into your Google account, you now might be viewing “personal results” that are based on your search behavior, social connections, and content that has been shared with you through Google+ all blended with traditional results. Google pulls the private content in your personalized results from a combination of listings from the web, which are boosted by your personal behavior and your social connections, as well as public Google+ posts, Google Picasa photos, or private Google content that was shared with you.
Right now, the results are actually more like “search plus Google+” since personalized results do not include other social media data from sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Flickr due to their respective terms of service which don’t allow for them to share their data with Google. Google does state that they are open to changing this if the other parties agree.
Additionally, Google has been working hard to maintain privacy and ensure that users’ concerns about this sensitive matter are addressed.
Why are personal results good? Google’s answer is that they are more relevant because they are providing you results based on the information and the people you choose to connect to in the first place.
What does this mean for your practice?
Overall this means that it is a good idea for your practice to set up a Google+ account, widen your circles and get active posting content such as articles and photos. The more people you reach, the more chances you will have to show up on people’s personalized searches. Further, this is yet one more indication that Google is moving deeper into incorporating their social platform Google+ into search results which means that like it or not, you will probably benefit from having a SEO friendly G+ profile (see article below for more information about how to achieve an optimized G+ page).
One important note: make sure that you properly label anything you post so Google will recognize it in a search for those terms. For example, if you post and share a photo of your practice, make sure you name the file with a proper title, including a keyword or two that might be searched for. If you don’t identify your photos, your efforts are lost.
For more information, here is the original blog post by Google introducing the product (along with a video tutorial).
Here is a somewhat lengthy report from Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land about his first impressions of Search Plus Your World.
Lastly, here what Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff had to say about the new feature.
Until we see more about the impact Search Plus Your World will have on online marketing and SEO, for now, we suggest you play around with personal search and see for yourself what the new search looks like.