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There is little doubt that Google has had a rough time being social. Buzz was cancelled and Orkut never really took off (well, except for in India).
Most people are skeptical about Google+ ever having a chance against Facebook and Twitter.
On the surface, their skepticism is well founded. Google+ (G+) so far hasn’t provided users any compelling reasons to switch from the social media heavyweight that is Facebook. Facebook is still where the vast majority of our friends are, and the user experience – even with the ads – is still better.
But despite the way the social media landscape looks right now, G+ is still going to succeed. Why? Because of visibility.
Visibility will trump functionality
Since Google launched G+, it has been steadily incorporating G+ data into the SERPs.
The most significant change occurred when Google transferred its local listings (Google Places) over to G+ Pages. However, now we’re seeing a significant amount of SERPs being affected by G+ usage.
Authorship = More Visibility
It’s becoming increasingly rare to do a search on Google without seeing an author’s headshot next to a result. This is especially true if you have a G+ account and have friends in your circles with similar interests.
Marketers are starting to realize that authorship can result in better visibility in SERPs.
At Pubcon Las Vegas last month, Search Engine Watch reported that Matt Cutts stated Google has “seen authorship becoming more and more important when it comes to search results and visibility in those results.” The article also reported that “Cutts confirmed this is the direction in which Google will continue to move.”
Brand Pages = More Visibility
It used to be that brands could rely on having at least the first and second organic results in the SERPs. They could also own the paid listings by setting up solid AdWords campaigns. Thanks to G+, brands can now own the entire results page above the fold.
With G+ and the Knowledge Graph, companies have the ability to take over a brand related result.
More Circles = More Visibility
If you have a Google account, there are two types of SERPs you can see: Private and Not Private. The default is set to Private, which are results based on your Google account activity and search history.
If you have a G+ profile, it also means your Private results will include articles written by people in your G+ Circles.
For marketers, this means two major goals are clear when it comes to G+:
Build up authority and trust with your G+ profile.
Get as many people as possible (that are relevant to your interests) to add you to their Circles.
Simply put, Circles can increase a brand’s visibility, help get your content shared and improve your trust and authority with Google.
Businesses want to rank better on Google’s search results because it increases their visibility.
Google+ is working to provide that visibility, and that’s why it’s is going to succeed.