In 2010 Google's Matt Cutts confirmed that online social activity linked to a website would be a continuing and growing "ranking signal". Meaning that Facebook Likes, Shares and Tweets could provide some link equity, (although it's argued how much), provided that the source of the activity was reputable and not a robot or programmed social profile. Fast forward a year to 2011 and Google+ hits the streets, with what some would say was with the opposite of a fury. However, SEO guru Danny Sullivan points out that as a part of Google's reboot in 2013, Google +1s and links shared on Google+ will have a positive impact on the rankings of websites if you are logged in to Google+ while searching. This means your search results will be skewed based on the "crowd" you travel within on your Google+ profile. If people in your circles have +1'd particular bakery, when you do a search for a local bakery you'd potentially see that bakery as "more" relevant in the results. Google has publicly refuted that +1's will impact search results when users are "signed out", but my opinion is that it's only a matter of time before these worlds collide. Why? Once Google has grown it's network of confirmed accounts and legitimate users to a tipping point, those user's opinions, (in the form of +1s or link shares), IS relevant… whether a user is signed in or not.
If you're a business owner, you can't ignore Google+ any longer.
Before you go creating a G+ profile and posting links to every website you can, hold on. In typical SEO contradictory fashion, Search Engine Watch revealed a compelling study by Stone Temple Consulting that denounced the theory that +1's alone will help increase the rank of a website in the "un-signed in" universe. However, the same study showed that within six minutes of a G+ "Share", the Googlebot spider visited the shared, and otherwise invisible page of the website which was then indexed on Google 10 days later, (about 4:00 into the video). Their study ultimately suggested a possible correlation of a G+ share, but not a causality in ranking position. In my opinion it's clear though that Google is paying attention to G+ shares, but to what degree and value is questionable.
What caused Facebook to win over MySpace, is not the same thing that's going to help Google+ win over Facebook.
Before we talk about Google+ vs Facebook, we need to talk about MySpace. Facebook filled a need that MySpace couldn't nail down… legitimacy. Anonymity using Facebook was passé. MySpace was filled with spam, emptiness and self-promotion due to the armor of being anonymous. Facebook filled that void so well, (although that's arguable), it's hard to find a replacement. For me, Facebook is almost like hanging out at your favorite bar, its comfortable and familiar and its where all my friends are. But I guarantee you if all my friends packed up and went to a new bar I'd probably go too just like the MySpace community did, (call me a follower, I don't care). So what void does Google+ fill? Maybe that's what's in Google's binoculars regarding social media. Will Google+ be the social network that helps take anonymity completely out of the Internet? The importance of Google Authorship would indicate an additional effort to do so.
Enter Google Wallet
The corporation that collects all of your search data could now collect all of your social and purchase data to better deliver advertising, (tin foil hat, check). Let's assume for the moment that Google has all good intentions, and set that aside for the moment as it's WAY outside of the scope here. If Google knows where you were at via the GPS on your Android phone, they know what content you've published online via Authorship, they know what you're watching on YouTube (the second largest search engine), they know what you're searching and now they know what you're posting to Google+... Google Wallet seems to be the next logical leap to know what you're purchasing (or who you're transferring money to). All of this combined information can be used to deliver ads that have a better click through rate and conversion rate to advertisers. The ads could be so directional and timely, that they could almost be predictive of your next purchase before you were even aware of what you want or need, (hello Minority Report). This culmination of collected knowledge and user activity leads to ad premiums and ridiculously high demand as marketers would be able to tailor a message to the individual given a specific circumstance with laser precision, and not "waste money" on the crowd at random. My estimation is that as Google buttons up users on G+ en masse, we'll hear a lot more about Google Wallet increasing market share.
Spooky to say the least.
PS: Please don't share this article on Google+.
Experienced SEO professional and business consultant.