January 16, 2012, 11:00 AM

Why Google + just became more important for retailers

Google adds data from its social network to search results.

Lead Photo

The new Google Inc. search tool that is designed to pepper search results with data from Google + forces retailers to pay more attention to the fledging social network, says Jackie Jenkins, global manager of search services at ChannelAdvisor Corp., a company that helps retailers sell through online marketplaces. 

The tool, which Google calls “Search, plus your World,” enables consumers signed into Google to click a button near the top of the search results page to call forth content from the Google + social network. The feature could be used in a variety of ways, the search provider says, including for photos posted by Google + connections, people searches and relevant Google + posts.

For retailing, the new feature could mean that a consumer searching for a particular product could find that someone within her Google + circle also has bought the item from a particular merchant and then clicked the +1 button to indicate that she liked the product or company. The consumer doing the search “is likely going to go directly to [the retailer] from the Google+ link, especially since it’s recommended by her friends that she trusts,” Jenkins writes in a blog posting.

Jenkins gives this advice to retailers in making sure they take advantage of the new Google search feature:

• Create and beef up their Google + pages. This includes adding content—photos, too—and setting up Direct Connect to enable consumers to type in retailers’ names to go directly to their the retailers’ Google + pages.

• Expand their Google + circles. This requires retailers to figure out ways to attract consumer interest, as Jenkins says that retailers can’t add consumers to the circles until those consumers have added retailers to consumers’ own circles. “You can add the Google+ badge to your web site, too, and encourage people to add you via your web site and other social channels,” she adds.

• Make sure consumers are able to +1 products, much as many retailers enable shoppers to click the Facebook Like button to signal their approval of a product . “When someone +1’s a product it shows up on their Google+ stream—where it can be indexed by Search for your World or re-shared by others in that circle,” Jenkins says.

•Consider adding +1 to online display ads.

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