Just over a month ago Google+ became the world’s youngest social network and then went on to break all records. It became the fastest growing social network ever, receiving 20 million members in just four weeks (Facebook took two years to reach that number), it launched a games platform in just four weeks and its stability and clean design have had Google groupies in ecstasy.
This morning I came across a post by British writer Walter Ellis on the struggle to make headway in publishing on the web. As it happens I have been involved in the publishing industry and writing as a profession even longer than I have been active on the web as a promoter and SEO and I have a relatively unique view which comes about from an intimate knowledge of the overlap between the two spheres of activity.
Back at school I was fond of a play the title of which I cannot even remember now where a character cheekily asks another: “Can you tell if I am black from my handwriting?”. There was an egalitarian insouciance built into that line which appealed to the logic-geek in me and, since then I have extended and modified that line to apply to my online world. I have always wondered whether someone could tell whether I was male or female just from my writing.
In the summertime when the weather is high, living may be easier but in the online world we live in a perpetual summer where activity never ceases.
The month that just passed was busier than ever which means that 2011 is not just going to be the year of SEO as I predicted earlier in the year but also the year social media marketing took centre stage.
Ultimately the best lesson to learn in business is that your strengths are also your weakness. Google, which so easily gets the web, missed out the social network explosion because it was focused on its core competency (search) and was finding it difficult to switch from a vertical it controlled and which was accessed through clicks to a medium which created interactivity, user-generated content and which encouraged participation. Google+ is amazing precisely because it represents not just great functionality and an easy interface to use (these bits are technical and easily within the province of, even, Microsoft) but because it represents a massive conceptual leap for the search giant.
The other day when I woke up I had a personality crisis. No, I did not go psychotic, started thinking about the boiling of bunnies or wonder what the world would look like should the holocaust happen in the next hour. But I did wonder what I was doing with my life and it kinda killed me.
Technology probably started to change us the moment we stooped down to pick up a rock and weigh it up for throwing. As humans we have the ability to use technology to short-circuit biology and evolution, augment our strengths and lessen our weaknesses and the way we use the web and search is no exception.
It’s just ten days since Google+ became a reality (by invitation only still) and in that time it has doubled in numbers (though there is no way to know the initial uptake) and created a wow phenomenon in the blogosphere.
Every time we enter a new crisis point the world changes. Back in ’87 (yeah, last century – totally) Black Monday created pressures for the Stock Market reform and pushed through computerisation as a way of seeing what was happening in the world of trade, quickly enough, to be able to avert disasters.
The reason we need SEO is because without it, nothing would really be visible on the web the way it should. Because it’s human nature we also try to squeeze as much additional exposure out of it as we can without crossing into the ‘dark side’ of Google’s penalties which can seriously affect a company’s ability to draw traffic from the web and damage its bottom line.