Google hit hard this week with the release of several new offerings: Google+, social tracking within Google Analytics, mobile landing pages and instant Web aggregation.
Well guys, the rumored social network from Google was realized this week. Currently, (and to the surprise of no one) Google+ looks a lot like Facebook but with slightly different names for all the areas. Users get Circles of friends instead of just friends, and video chat Hangouts as a more visual method of immediate interaction. For the camera-shy, Huddle will offer chat or a group messaging service.
Circles is arguably the platform's biggest innovation as it addresses the idea that we all have different circles of friends and don't want to share all our info between them:
Google soft-launches the service at a time when some experts are guessing that Facebook is at the peak of its success. With some users looking elsewhere, Google could benefit massively from any surge in the new social media direction.
The trick will be getting users to bring their friends over, too, and while Google's Chrome browser could help act as a rallying point, with it baked-in, other browser users will have to accept another Google page into their lives.
As it turns out, the Google+ reveal wasn't the only thing up the Internet giant's social sleeve this week. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools now provide tools for tracking the impact of tweets, likes, +1s and more on your website’s traffic.
Head on over to Google Webmaster Tools and you'll find a new “+1 Metrics” section, which provides reports on the impact of the Internet giant's new-ish button on search in three flavors:
- Search Impact report: Find out if your clickthrough rate changes when personalized recommendations help your content stand out. Do this by comparing clicks and impressions on search results with and without +1 annotations.
- Activity report: Shows how many times your pages have been +1’d, from buttons both on your site and on other pages (such as Google search).
- Audience report: Displays aggregate geographic and demographic information about the Google users who’ve +1’d your pages. To protect privacy, Google only shows audience information when a significant number of users have +1’d pages from your site.
Perhaps even more useful is Social Plugin Tracking. The tool compares the impact of different types of social actions on your website. It tracks +1s, tweets, Facebook Likes, Facebook Sends and other social actions.
Google Sites was granted a timely boost with the addition of a mobile component for creating simplified landing pages this week.
The driving factor behind the addition should be pretty obvious, but in case you're just joining us (here on Earth), here's the company's official explanation:
A poor mobile web experience can negatively shape a consumer’s opinion of your brand or your company altogether. In a recent study, we found that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone, and 40% go to a competitor’s.
Google Sites users will find the new building templates fairly familiar. They are are pre-made and specifically targeted for cases such as e-commerce, local businesses, restaurants, lead generation, etc.
Landing pages can also integrate popular social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, as well as feature the business phone number, directions, promotions, etc. Further, analytics on traffic to these mobile sites is offered.
To demonstrate the powerful simplicity, I give you the adorable Bob of Bob's Cardboard Cutouts:
Forget mere liking! Google's What Do You Love (wdyl) is a new site product aiming to bring all the content on one subject into one place. Enter a search term and it pulls together a dynamic page of information about that result. So, "David Beckham" offers up pictures of the soccer star, the ability to make a Picasa photo album, deals on books, a collection of YouTube videos and more.
As a booster for Google's many services, it works pretty well, showing off the likes of Gmail, Google Voice and others. But because the site can't be reordered to move well-populated elements of the results to the top, it all looks rather hit and miss. Some work could increase the relevance and user voting could improve the curation value of results.