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Is Google Really Downplaying Google+ Results in the SERPS?

Published: October 1, 2014

Author: Colin Guidi


Is Google serious about removing Google+ clutter from SERPs? It seems so some days…and not so much on others.
There’s been chatter about Google downplaying Google+ results in the SERPs, and I’ve been studying my own searches lately to show how Publisher Markup for brands in the SERPs has been changing. The results? They’re mixed, and I believe Google is still testing how it wants its social network to intertwine with the SERPs.
My original hypothesis, shown with screenshots below, was that Publisher Markup only renders lately when you’re signed in to your Google account and have an active Google+ Profile (not page, necessarily) – so I’m talking about my personal Google account, not my work Google account.
If signed in on my work account, I see nothing.
Signed out of Google? I see the same as signed in on my work account.
Difference between my work and personal account? Well, I have an active Google+ Profile on my personal account, and my end opinion is that if you’re signed in and are active on Google+, then you’ll see Publisher Markup when it’s been set correctly.
I’ve got some screenshots that bear this out…however, stay tuned for the “but”!

Signed in to personal Google account – with an active Google+ Profile:

BACtrack.com :: query bactrack
image001
Moz.com :: query moz
image003
Nike.com :: query nike
image005
 

Signed in to my work Google account – with no active Google+ Profile:

Nike.com :: query nike
image007
Moz.com :: query moz
image009
So I got all of those one day, and my hypothesis seemed borne out. And the day after I wrote that?
As with any shifts in Google’s algorithm and visual display, it’s always best to “measure twice and cut once.” If you’ve seen something new, see if it’s still there the next day; check more than once and then make your hypothesis.
Following up on these SERP updates the next day, I got slightly different results for the exact same brands and queries. I’m still seeing the exact same results across my signed-in personal Google account with my active Google+ Profile.
However, let’s look at my signed-in work account that has no active Google+ Profile and was showing different results the other day:

Signed in to my work Google account – with no active Google+ Profile:

Nike.com :: query nike
image011
Moz.com :: query moz
image013
BACtrack.com :: query backtrack
image015
Conclusion
With the recent removal of Google’s Authorship visuals from the SERPs, it appears that they are still testing how they would like to incorporate aspects of their social network into the results pages.
Yesterday I was seeing a rich incorporation of Google+ across my Google account where I was active on Google+. For my signed-in account where I was not active on Google+, I wasn’t seeing anything.
Today the story has changed. I’m still seeing the same as yesterday for my personal Google account that I’m active on Google+ with. The difference is that now the large, well-known brands are showing in my work Google account (with no Google+ Profile activity) just as they do in my personal Google account.
And the smaller brand, BACtrack? Still only showing on my personal Google account, where I am following them on Google+.
Testing occurs often with Google, and I believe we haven’t seen the final format of Publisher Markup, as well as the continued tinkering of other search result incorporations for their social network.
 

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