Google users knew it was only a matter of time before the search engine started pushing more of its Google+ content in organic search results. Aiming for what it calls a “richer hashtag experience,” Google will now begin displaying posts from its social network whenever users search for a hashtag term.
Hashtags are usually used on social networks to put posts in context with other relevant content, but they can also be searched directly on Google to discover more about a particular trending topic. Now, when you plug one into Google, a series of related posts from Google+ will appear in the right-hand sidebar below the usual PPC ads. These results include a brief post summary along with the author’s profile and a link to the content on Google+ itself.This increased visibility will only include public posts, though signed-in users may see posts that were shared directly with them at some point in time. However, more Google+ content will be appearing to all users, not just those who have an account on the social network. For the time being, these results are only associated with hashtag searches, but there’s no telling where Google plans to go with this trend in the future.
Will this new development have any benefits for individuals or businesses? It’s hard to say. In terms of social networking, Google+ is still a small fish when compared to Twitter, Facebook or even Pinterest. The extensive reach that businesses are looking for and the camaraderie of friends that draws casual users just isn’t there yet. Pushing content from this underutilized network may help draw more signups or it may turn people off to the network completely.
At this point, it’s not clear how users themselves will react in the long run. Linking Google+ content to search results has the potential to change the face of SEO, especially since posts are now appearing in organic search results and not just to signed-in Google+ users. Ultimately it’s up to the public to decide whether or not they find these new results useful.