What is Google+ (Google Plus)?
Possibly one of the most significant shifts in "Search" and "Social Media", ever.
Back on April 1st this year (it wasn't an April fool), we told you about Google's new service - Google +1 (Google Plus one)
Yesterday, it turned out our prediction of it being "the first in many moves from Google onto Facebook's turf" was right, as Google unveils Google+ (Google Plus) - a Facebook rival that integrates "search" as well as some interesting new features.
Google personal accounts have been around for a while - anyone with a Gmail account will likely have filled their details in, and possibly uploaded a photo. What Google+ seeks to do is combine user accounts, and integrate Google+1 with it, to enable users to share search results such as news, video and photos; in fact any online content, with one another.
The real benefit to Google of doing this is that it enables the search engine to deliver much better-targeted results.
As an SEO, I'm rarely signed-in to a Google account, as I don't want it skewing my results based on prior searches.
We've had huge success using Facebook advertising, as it's much better-targeted than Google search - you can target your adverts at people on their birthday, based on their age, gender, location, and much more. In comparison, Google's PPC has tried in vain to provide such targeting.
By encouraging people to register for a Google account, and stay signed-in, Google will be able to collect more data than it had previously, adding value to its paid adverts and winning-back some of the market share it has lost to Facebook. This is reflected in the Google share price which stepped-up since the announcement, after some poor prior performance.
Google is billing this new service as a better approach to privacy - let's hope so!
So how does it compare to Facebook?
Sparks - Essentially like Facebook's friend recommendations, except rather than being based on your existing friends, it's based on interests you share with others.
Circles - Users can categorise contacts into different circles, such as family, friends, school friends, etc. Users can then share content with different circles.
Huddles - A messaging application that allows groups of connections to communicate as one.
Hangouts - Essentially, a live video-conference you can "hang-out in" with multiple friends.
Google's other USP here is that privacy has been incorporated from the ground-up, to make it easier to avoid those famous "Facebook faux pas", like moaning about your boss and then getting sacked for your slanderous remarks having forgotten he's a "friend"!
Bradley Horowitz (Google's VP of product management) said: "For us, privacy isn't buried six panels deep..." in comparison to what he referred to as "other social networking sites".
If you sign-in to your Google account; you'll already be able to see the +1 button on both paid and organic search results. You'll also have noticed that a few weeks back, Google introduced a blue toolbar, which just turned black. This toolbar will enable users to have access to the main sharing features such as status updates. Mobile roll-out (iOS only as of today) has started too with a new mobile toolbar that will eventually enable location, photos and other mobile-specific content to be shared.
Google Plus will be rolled-out to a small user base initially, by invite only. Google is yet to state when it be more widely available.
I wonder if the Winklevoss twins will be staking a claim to Google next!?
We reckon it's either going to be the biggest success or the biggest flop, in the history of social networking. The might of Google, and it's mobile O/S will certainly win them favour, but we're certainly keen to find out, and will keep you posted once we're live on Google+ ourselves.
Get more familiar with Google+ here.
Update (30/06/2011): A couple of our developers have recieved invites to join, we will hopefully be able to post a concise review soon. The new google mobile web toolbar has now been rolled out to Android devices, as has a new Google+ app. Which is available from the Android Market.
Update (05/07/2011): According to Ben Parr's story on Mashable, the Google+ App for iOS has already been submitted for approval to the App Store and should be available in a couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted...