What Google Search Plus Your World means for South Africa’s SEO Community

By Charlie Stewart, January 23, 2012 09:14 pm

So, Google’s finally done it. For months we’ve been wondering if it would integrate Google+ data within its search results. Last week (early January 2012) all became clear when ‘Search Plus your World’ was rolled out.

In a nutshell, the overhaul will make it easier for us to find private content from people we follow along with content from the broader web by making just the one search.

Inevitably, bringing personal content into search results will cause some privacy concerns, but as Google isn’t exposing this information publicly (you need to be signed in to Google to take advantage of ‘Search Plus your World’), the only thing you really need to worry about is whether information you inadvertently shared with some becomes available to others in your network.

For a detailed breakdown on what’s happened Danny Sullivan’s post on the Search Engine Land blog gives the best picture I’ve read so far.

But the question that I really want to pose is … if this is so big – and I really do believe that this is a game changer of apocalyptic proportions - why have South Africans been so slow to embrace Google+ which is the cornerstone of Search Plus Your World. And when will we start adopting it?

Although Mzansi’s  love of Google is not in doubt - around 90% of us use it for our search queries as compared to 66% of people in the US – hardly any of us have signed up to its social tool.

Now, we love social media in South Africa. We’re the 30 th biggest Facebook user in the world with 4.8m FB accounts – and if you look at the number of people using Facebook here as a proportion of people who have internet access, you’ll find Facebook has stonking 90% penetration rate. So we’re hardly a shy bunch.

It’s little surprise that Gareth Cliff, our favourite shock jock, has the most Facebook followers at 345 000. But by contrast, Hillary Fox, a photographer, tops the SA list for Google Plus with just shy of 16 000 followers. They guy with the 10 th most followers in SA – someone from Wesbank’s IT department – has just 885 followers at the time of writing.

I can only put the failure of Google+ to gain more local traction down to South Africans being harder to please than others – after all, Google's track history with social networks isn’t that great. Orkut, Google Buzz, and Google Wave all bombed.

What’s different this time is that Google+ is fully integrated in their network. When you sign into your Google account, you’ll be greeted by a bundle of notifications from Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and host of other Google products.

It’s going to be fascinating to see what really catalyses a strong take up of Google Plus here, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll see the search engine optimisation community in South Africa drive the adoption process by actively encouraging their clients to set up both personal and corporate pages.

If you’d like hear more about Google+ or you need assistance in setting up a business page and defining a broader search engine optimisation or social media strategy , give 2Stroke a call on +27 (0)21 914 9324 or drop us a mail. We’d be delighted to help.

Written by Charlie Stewart
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Charlie Stewart