Organic rankings are already being influenced by Google+ activity and the Google +1 button!
In order to currently see this in action, you need to be logged into your Google account and have created a Google public profile. Once you add people into your Google+ circles, any activity from those people, whether sharing content or clicking on the +1 button, will influence what you see in organic listings when you search with a connected phrase.
For example, the other day while logged into my Google account with my public profile, I searched with a particular phrase. The organic listings on page 1 of Google included URLs shared by people in my Google+ circles! This is an example of social search at its best where organic listings are influenced by what people in your circles recommend or share. When I logged out of my Google account, the page 1 organic listings for the same search term obviously did not include these URLs recommended by the same people.
For the present time, you need to be logged into your Google account and have a Google public profile to see recommendations on the search results pages and to be able to recommend yourself via the Google +1 button. The question is, will people not logged into Google accounts and without Google public profiles be able to see public recommendations for organic listings and will these recommendations influence their search results?
At the moment, organic listings are influenced by back links so why shouldn’t they also be influenced by recommendations by people?
I think eventually they will be, whether logged into a Google account or not. And if you want a social search experience where your search results are influenced by people you follow or people you know, or if you want to be able to recommend yourself, then this will always be an option to you by creating a public profile and logging in!
A similar situation can be seen with Facebook and the Like button. If you are not logged into your Facebook account, you still can see how many people ‘Like’ a particular page (say) on a website you visit. If you are logged into Facebook, then any friends who have ‘Liked’ this page will be visible to you.
So we are currently looking at two scenarios, organic results influenced by Google+ and +1 button activity even though we are not logged into any Google account (not happening yet), and the second scenario (which is available now) is when we are logged in with a public profile and organic rankings are also influenced by people in your Google+ circles!
With the first scenario, the obvious challenge for Google is the numerous ’spamming’ techniques that will arise.
Google public profiles are currently only allowed for individuals though Google will soon make this officially available for businesses and brands. How these business public profiles will tie in with Google Places accounts is yet to be known though the rumour is that there will be some kind of connection. Time will tell.
It is also evident that the more followers a brand or business public profile will have, the more visible it will be to those people in their search results (when logged in and searching with relevant terms). For example, I plan to follow the Toyota Google public profile when it is created. This means there is a good chance Toyota listings will be more visible to me when I search for car related phrases (and logged in).
If you haven’t implemented the Google +1 button on all pages of your site, I highly recommend that you do as Google+ and social search is here to stay. You want to give people the option of recommending your pages via the +1 button at every opportunity.
Google has tied together its social network and +1 button with its search product (organic and paid) which means if your business site doesn’t get on this search band wagon soon, it will be left behind.