If you haven’t already heard, Google+ is become a force to be reckoned with on the web. It’s still too early to predict if it’s a “Facebook killer”, but it’s already obvious that Google+ has caused a major shakeup of the social aspect of the web. It will affect you; I’d like to explain what Google+ is, how it will affect you, and the five things you need to do with Google+ now.

What Is Google+?

Google Plus is essentially a way to connect your entire Google experience with the people you know. Think of it as a very Google-centric version of Facebook. In fact, you will find it very similar to Facebook – except all the features, and their connection to your browsing experience, are amplified.

The most noticeable example of this is the +1 button. This works similarly to the Facebook Like button in that it functions as an upvote for pages you like. Site owners can install code for +1 on their site in order to allow people to vote, and when you vote for something using the +1 button, it shows up in your activity stream. The button also shows up directly in search results (if you’re logged in).

What are Some of the Main Features of Google+?

Instead of having “friends” a la Facebook, you have “circles” in Google Plus. These are groupings such as “Work”, “Friends”, “Acquaintances”, etc. that allow you categorize your connections with people. It gives you a bit more flexibility than the Facebook “friend” – especially since Google Plus allows you to make your own types of circles. This is a major difference with Facebook – and Google Plus has the advantage.

Another useful feature of Google Plus is it’s “Sparks” feature, which is similar to an alert feed. Not everything in sparks has necessarily been shared before in Google+, and it’s a good way to keep up with topics of interest to you.

A feature of interest to people who use instant messaging or Skype is the “Hangouts” feature, which is similar to Skype. Hangouts are virtual chat rooms that you can setup and participate in voice (using Google Voice) or text chat sessions. This can be very useful for business use.

How Does Google+ Affect the Rest of the Web?

Google+ is bound to affect the search ranking calculations, if it’s not doing so already. Twitter and Facebook shares, along with other socially-connected sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon already play a part in the ranking algorithm – and Google is sure to use +1 votes in a similar fashion. Aside from that, +1 votes already affect personalized search results. Expect to see different results delivered to you depending on what you’ve voted for in the past!

Google+ has well over 10 million users, and that number will only grow exponentially as more and more people adopt Google+ as just another aspect of the Google services most web users depend on in some way. Expect Google+ to become a vital part of social traffic – and get used to seeing the +1 button all over the web.

OK, OK…But What Should I Do Now?

There are 5 things you should do now – now that Google+ is beginning to influence the web.

  1. Grow your following, and don’t be afraid to add people.
  2. Treat it like Twitter: follow, follow, follow.
  3. Ask for shares and +1 on your posts.
  4. Add a +1 button to your site – either directly or by using one of the many social plugins.
  5. Share good content with your circles – because content is still king