Google+ and Google Search Engine: The Real Reason for Google Plus

We are beginning to see confirmation of what I suspected was the real reason Google invested so much time and money into Google+ and now is giving it to us for free. What’s in it for the Google?


Click the image to zoom to full size. Notice all those little avatars dotting the screen like human measles? Those are Google+ users who are either in my Google+ circles, or in my extended circles (in the circles of people I’ve circled, i.e., friends of friends). They are meant to be cues to me that those results just might be of more interest to me than the others.

There may be many reasons why Google spent over a year and suffered the public embarrassments of Buzz and Wave to get to the quite elegant and useful Google+ I’ve been playing with for a week now. There may be many reasons, but I know believe chief among them is Google is building the next generation search engine, and we Google+ users are its database.

For at least a year I’ve been hearing that Google is shaking in its boots, living in mortal terror of the day Facebook would finally unveil some kind of integrated web search that used Facebook’s vast social graph data as a major ranking source. I also heard pundits this past week laugh at Google for thinking it could succeed by being third into the social media big top (with Twitter and Facebook). Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Google is not third into social media; Google is first into truly integrated social search.

Between the +1 button (which I predict you will soon see as ubiquitously place on sites as the Facebook Like button is now) and now the ability with Google+ for Google to let its vast user base play in its sandbox and tell it what they think is truly cool and relevant, Google has taken a mega step forward in socially-integrated search.

This, and not any of Google+’s cool features (which Facebook could mostly copy), may be the “Facebook killer” aspect of Google+.

UPDATE: Here is Google’s cautiously worded admission that the +1 button is (and will more so in the future) affecting rankings: (Granted, this is about the site-based +1 button, but I firmly believe that the Google+ button, as well as just how people interact and share on Google+, will be in play as well, if it isn’t already.)

Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality. (Source)

UPDATE #2: This just occurred to me. On July 1 Google’s deal with Twitter for realtime search data expired, and was not renewed. At the time we were told the two sides could not come to financial agreement. But then a few days later, Google+ appears. Could it be that the real reason Google had no interest in renewing their Twitter deal is that with Google+ they will soon be able to introduce their own realtime search, with data they get for free?

Google+ and Google Search Engine: The Real Reason for Google Plus by

Mark is Director of Digital Outreach for Virante Inc. Mark helps businesses build strategies to increase brand influence and attract natural links and social signals. He has a special reputation as an expert on Google+ and Google Authorship. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web.


  1. It’s actually rather transparent that Google dropped realtime search data from Twitter just as + came out. If Matt Cutts says there’s no connection, he’ll lose more credibility. At least they could have not had an appearance of connecting the two. They should have avoided the perception of a connection, as the coincide is too much. Personally, I’d like to see more real time data from Twitter even if + turns winds up leading the pack.

  2. What’s to stop AOL/HuffPost, Demand, etc., from spamming the +1s?

  3. You highlighted my problem with Google search. I want it to be clean, not have advertisements, suggestions and my friends having posted a “keyword” and not a “concept” to guide it. All of this simply makes me wade through more pages to find what I want. A real service would be to demote fake blogs that prey on keyword searches.

  4. SocraticGadfly: There is no doubt that people will try to game the +1 button, just as they do anything else on the Internet that might affect search rankings. What I also wouldn’t doubt is that Google will be paying very careful attention to trying to make sure the button is not gamed. Certainly things like too many clicks from the same location and/or over a short period of time are easy to catch and probably already are being filtered.

    Google has shown itself to be tenacious in fighting click fraud. Of course, just as with spam, this will always be an ongoing game of whack-a-mole. The black hats will come up with a new scheme. It will work for a short while. Google will detect it and find a way to filter it out.

  5. Maitri: If you want to search Google free of influence from your friends, search it in a browser where you are not logged in to Google. The social search functions only work if you are logged in to Google.

    I’m curious as to why you wouldn’t want friend’s suggestions, though. Why should you think that Google is necessarily better at finding “what I want” than your friends. For example, if you are looking for ideas to eat out at a local restaurant, wouldn’t the suggestions of friends in the area be more valuable to you than Google showing you which restaurant has the most linked-to web page?

    As for demoting fake blogs (by which I’m guessing you mean so-called “content farms” that post low value, keyword-rich content just to attract rankings), you must have missed the news that Google has been going after this with a vengeance most of this year, instituting what many have called the largest changes to its search algorithms since the introduction of PageRank to sniff out low value content and penalize it.


  1. [...] not really news. We published almost the exact same statement from Google back on July 8 (“Google+ and Google Search Engine“). What is interesting in yesterday’s report is how shy Google continues to be about [...]

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