The New Google Slap That You Won't Recover From In 2012
In a world powered by Google, every Internet marketer fears the "Google slap." A Google slap is so affectionately named because it refers to the big "G" taking your website down a few notches in the search engine results pages. If you've ever had this happen to you, you know that it is utterly devastating from an organic traffic standpoint.
You basically fall off the Internet map, and your business could dry up in a heartbeat. Thankfully, if you've done a good job with your SEO, you probably have nothing to worry about - until now. Google has rolled out its most radical change since Panda. It's called "Search Plus Your World." This new way of accessing content on the Internet is highly personalized, and can slap your website down in a heartbeat. How?
Think about this for a moment. Google owns Google+. Google isn't just sitting on the sidelines here with its social media invention. It's integrating it heavily into its search results. People using Google+ have to be logged in to their Google account to mess around with their circles, change friends, make posts, etc.
If they log in to their Google account, this changes the search results they see when they remain logged in. Google makes it easy to stay logged in, too. When a user is logged out of his Google account, the "normal search results look, well, normal. However, when he is logged in, his Google search results are based on his behavior, and Google+.
It's pretty clear what Google is doing. It's trying to make everything about search more personal. It's trying to make more searches turn up local businesses. On top of that, Google wants to focus vertically in its search results.
What This Means For You
If you don't have a business that naturally lends itself to being a national business, and you aren't integrated into Google+ (and with your customer base) then you might as well kiss your search ranking goodbye - forever. Now, this won't happen overnight. Remember when Google rolled out local search? Google tested personalized and local search inside of users' accounts first before making it the new "normal" for those not logged into Google.
Today, Google shows local and personalized results based on the zip code you're searching from. For mobile users, Google can use location-based services inherent in your smartphone to return local businesses. Users can change this, but the user's location is set as the default. You can see where this is going. All Google has to do is remove the option to change your location (or hide it really well) when you perform a search.
It's also probably not a far-fetched idea that Google will come up with a way to make "Search Plus Your World" the new "normal," thus all but eliminating spammers, thin content, and non-competitive businesses trying to compete on a global market where local search dominates. Users don't actively search for those spammy websites that offer little or no value (you know the ones). If you aren't connecting with your potential customers via Google+, building your business vertically, and focusing your efforts on local search, then you are digging your own grave. You have been warned.