Google Plus Rolls Out ‘Collections’ Feature

Screen-Shot-2015-05-04-at-12.49.57-PMRumored for the past several weeks, Google+ has just rolled out a new Google Plus feature – Connections, a feature that allows a G+ persona or page to curate G+ posts into targeted & topical sets. Collections is available on Android and the web, and iOS is coming later. For Android users, make sure to update your Google+ app to get access to Collections.

It is, for regular G+ posters, a useful feature that allows for sub categorization of groups of posts so that any posts can be more easily found in the future. It adds an organizational structure to G+ that was not really available with circles. Here are several collections that I have created 6 collections of my postings there:

Google My Business – Tips & Tools
Local Search – tips, tactics and news
Scenes of Rural New York – Barns, Nature and More
Reviews & Reputation for the SMB
Apple & Local Search
Mobile Local Search

Will I benefit from this new feature? Will I gain new followers or increased front page exposure in the main SERPS? Like so much of what has happened on G+,  it depends on whether Google puts some oomph into the marketing and exposure. And whether they make ranking of these Collections somewhat more transparent.
Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 12.50.35 PM
If new readers of G+ are readily shown this curated content it might make them more likely to stay in G+ and create an interest based stream that is topically driven and doesn’t require them to know which individuals are prominent in those fields. A user can follow a specific Collection for example and not see all the content of a given persona. It could (operative word could) improve the newbie experience and lead to user growth. Google has yet to impress me with their capacity in this regard.

On this front Google will be offering “Featured Collections” but their success is totally dependent on Google’s positioning and marketing of them. Although the varied crowd of testers has created an interesting array of first efforts on this front.

What will Google gain from this update?

Minimally they will be sending the signal that the social stream of G+ is alive and kicking and has some interesting features. Hopefully there will be more developments at the I/O conference in this vein.

More importantly, if these Collections gain traction, Google will be gaining an incredible crowd sourced tool defining relationships between various entities in the real world. Obviously, with Knowledge Graph & Hummingbird  Google is placing increased emphasis on understanding real world relationships and their graphs.

Yesterday Bill Slawski published a patent review titled How Google is focusing upon Building and Promoting Entity Collections looks at just this issue.

…Determining the first set of entities may include selecting a category from a crowd-sourced document corpus and determining entities identified by the category.

From Bill’s article: The patent does describe how information about entities may exist in the web in the form of triples, how those are searchable, and can be used to identify whether or not an entity is the member of a team or a political activist group or a world leader group, and how different collections may be ranked based upon things like how notable their members are.

Would I rush out and create a Collection? Do they have value in Local?

I could envision a local business creating some meaningful local Collections that, if they showed in local SERPS, could help that business get and keep local followers while providing them with significant first page exposure. But the actual value of this tool is TBD. If it is stuck within the walls of Plus it will be of some limited interest but not hit escape velocity at least in Local.

My bottomline? It is not a feature to go gaga over nor it is one that can be heavily criticized. It’s an appealing feature for heavy G+ users now and it could be more generally useful and increase the overall value of G+ if Google markets it correctly. But that remains to be seen.

Some other useful posts about Collections:

10 suggestions for Collections you can create

Some interesting looking collections:

Local SEO Resources: The Ultimate List Joy Hawkins
Hangouts Tips & Updates Pegggy K
Google+ Tips & Advice Jaana Nyström

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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24 thoughts on “Google Plus Rolls Out ‘Collections’ Feature”

  1. @David
    Like everything Google does it depends on exposure. It could be a useful way to help users find information and it could just be, as you noted, a big nothing that sits in the bowels of Google doing not much good for anyone.

    I actually like the feature as an organizational tool within G+ if for nothing more than being able to find the posts that I am looking for – for myself.

    For it to rise about that minimal level of utility it requires of Google a level of activity and transparency that are unlikely. Despite my hopes otherwise.

    PS I don’t agree with your Pinterest analogy… for better or worse a Collection is what Google needs to highlight Google+ content.

  2. Mike, I don’t disagree with you on the organizational tool concept. I just fail to see how this is an improvement, let alone even an equal in terms of UI, of Pinterest.

    Out of curiosity, how often have you used Pinterest? These just scream ‘Pinterest board’ to me.

  3. I never use Pinterest. I am a written word sort of person, not a visual one. I typically forget to even add a graphic to my post till after the fact.

    These can collect videos, reviews, photos, articles…. the photos is something I do very rarely so having the capability to share a nice photo and get some comments in the context of the community works for me on G+. So I see them as slightly more broadly based than Pinterest. I doubt that I would ever add a 3rd social network to my mix at least.

    I don’t see this so much as a Pinterest killer as a decent feature to help organize what content I do have out there.

  4. I was a bit baffled about this when I tested it too. OK, so I can make folders. Hmmm. Helpful, but not a game-changer. I do wish I could do this with Facebook posts and photos however. Or….if I could use Collections to aggregate stuff I found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs… I guess I SORT OF can do that, if I do a G+ post about a Facebook photo, I could then add that post into a collection.

  5. As you’ve pointed out, I think it has tremendous potential for avid G+ users. I was actually bemoaning the lack of this feature some months ago in a community. I don’t necessarily care about photos of rural New York, but I do want to read what this Blumenthal guy shares about local search marketing.

    I’d like to see most people keep their collections at a meta category level. I don’t want to have to follow 12 different local seo collections from the same person; just one “local seo” category should suffice.

  6. I agree with David that “Collections” comes across as the poor man’s Pinterest, but I can see why Google would roll it out. It should be catnip to hardcore G+ users, so at least Google will be able to glean plenty of “entity” data from/on those people, even if “Collections” never really takes off.

    Could also see how a “Collection” itself would rank in Google for certain niche or hyperlocal terms. On a local level, these could be like Yelp’s category pages: all over the SERPs like a bad smell. To me, this fits in with Google’s penchant for showing its own properties in the search results.

  7. BOO! Collections replaced. G+ Local on G+.

    No more local search, no more local tags on G+ Local pages. Now G+ Local listings are just labled Profiles.

    Good bye dupe research. Hello frustration and extra work.

    Big discussion starting at post #4 at the forum plus official statement I just got from Google confirming it’s not an oops but by design. (Post #4 and down.)

  8. Mike,

    Can you be a bit clearer on how you think this helps local businesses? Are you saying/suggesting that they would/should create collections on G+?

    Also, there’s still a dead link – the second link in the Featured Collections paragraph, where you can see a stream?

  9. @Scott
    Google historically has not surfaced personnas or their posts in the main search results very often EXCEPT to their followers. This concept is great but for the fact that it is almost impossible to get enough local followers for a local business to get any benefit from G+. Chicken and egg problem exacerbated by the fact that Google hides the content on G+.

    It is conceivable to me that since these are topical rather than person based (they exist at their own URL not under the person’s) that Google could show Collections in the main search results for long tail local content without the personalization. That would lead to a decent source of followers if they circled the Collection and could lead to a signifcant pool of truly local readers.

    So lets say that you do city based collection or a collection of sporting event videos for your town or posts on wedding venues in the Williamsville area and Google does surface those in the search results… This could lead to a reach that has been lost on Facebook. It would give the small business a reason to actually post on G+. Novel idea that.

    Bill Slawski, for example, created a Collection about his new residence, Carlsbad. It will be interesting to see if it can become authoritative enough to rank.

  10. @Mike,

    Thanks for the clarification. For publishers/bloggers, I agree this would be quite valuable if Google gives Collections some SEO love. For small businesses, I would still strongly urge them to create and maintain their brand on their own website, and simply try to syndicate as much info as possible to 3rd party sites like G+.

    What will be interesting is if Google will allow 3rd parties to syndicate content from another source directly to Collections. I doubt they will, which will continue to make it a very niche option for pretty much anybody….

  11. @Scott
    I would never suggest that this could be anything but a supplement to a business owning their content. But if their blog had strong content in a topical area that could become a Collection that might achieve authority.

  12. I thought the idea was to make something special, something easy to understand and use, and then… once you have a lot of users, to add great features. This is clearly not Google’s plan for G+ —> it’s getting more complicated as we move forward. Adoption is unlikely. There is a lot to get a grasp of. Most ‘new’ users would likely find solutions elsewhere. I understand Google is not giving up on G+, but man this is getting complicated 😉

  13. @Andy, you took the words right out of my mouth. It’s not easy, it’s impossible to integrate into or with anything else, and they keep adding/removing stuff, so even IF you get used to it, they will likely change it!

    I frankly only tell SMBs to use it for the SEO benefits – and only if they can get it “for free” along with other stuff they are doing. It’s not worth being the primary focus, it will work for a while, then likely not.

  14. It looks terrible. The idea is fine, but the banner size is flawed. and it doesn’t look right. Lack of customztion , my suggestion just stick with using plus and avoid the collection part . They need to re-done with with better coding and more customztion features and fix the size of the banner to make it more wider to fit with the rest of the page.

    If youtube was smart, they would ditch it and ditch google plus, re-done their whole youtube page and design and add a collection area on the youtube page and call them “groups”.


  15. I think “Collections” could help organize posts and make them a little more user-friendly for users looking for content they’re interested in, so perhaps they will last. I’m also thinking they could go way of the dodo and Google authorship, Google Talk etc.. I’m more skeptical of Google’s commitment to its rollouts.

  16. Once you have seen what Google does with these collections you will lose the “pinterest” connection – it is amazing.

    All of this is primarily for Android – people seriously need to disconnect between Google the browser and search engine and the Phone – Apple users just have no idea.

    Sorry – they are just swimming in an ocean of ignorance.

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