As Google Plus continues to gain users (20 million and counting) and the early adopters have had nearly a month to get to grips and experiment, we’re starting to see where it fits in to the grand scheme of social networks and SEO, and including it in our SEO Training course.
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One of the major pluses of Google+ (if you’ll pardon the pun) is its versatility…
- If you want to broadcast everything to the world, you can make all of your posts public and effectively use Google+ like a Blog.
- If you’re using Google+ as an alternative to Facebook you cam just share with your friends (or any other of your circles) and share more personal content
- You can also follow people without them having to “friend” you and see all of their public posts – so you can use it like Twitter
In short – Google have taken all of the best bits of the most popular social networks and bundled them together.
One feature that Google has borrowed from Twitter, is that (unlike Facebook) every Google+ post has its own URL – so its effectively a little web page (or blog post if you want to think of it that way) in its own right.
And that means that they have the potential to be indexed in search engine results pages (SERPS) – and guess what – they are!
Some Examples of how Google+ effects ranking
We first thought we’d try to find some of our own posts in Google’s SERPS (because we’re vain like that). However to find those we had to use some very specific long-tail phrases (actually – the exact text in the posts!)
So a search for “CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve won the best Pimped Google+ Profile Competition” brought up this result from Colin’s profile about our recent competition (and the profile of the winner – who had shared it!)
But – as you can see these are actually the profile pages coming up – not individual posts.
So we thought we’d try a broader search for an individual post that has been shared a LOT.
To find something really popular we had a look on this useful site which indexes the most popular Google+ posts
One of the most popular in the last week was a post from Kevin Rose with over 3000 +1′s and 16 shares.
So we tried a search for “engagement live on Google+” and this time the SERPS returned the post itself – albeit at number 10 in the rankings:
We thought we’d take this a bit further – and removed the “live” with just a search for “Engagement on Google+” – we’re starting to get a little bit more generic now.
Interestingly – we didn’t find Kevin Rose’s post on the front page this time – but at number 5 in the rankings we found this post from Bradley Horowitz, who had posted news of his recent engagement on Google+ and, not surprisingly, had got 149 shares and 1116 +1′s off the back of it (and a new fiancé of course!)
So how is Google ranking Google+ Posts – and what does that mean for SEO?
So why did Bradley’s post about his engagement outrank Kevin’s about his market research for a search term that actually had a better match in the content of Kevin’s post?
We’d like to think that Google has a built in romance-ometer that pushed Bradley’s post up.
However – this very rudimentary test tells us a few things about the ranking of Google+ posts.
Well – obviously! For tips on great content for Google see writing content that Google will love.
- Shares are important
Bradley’s post didn’t have as many +1s as Kevin’s but it had been shared way more. And each of those shares was essentially a backlink from someone else’s profile. The lesson from this? As with all social media marketing – write stuff that people want to share – and the higher it will rank.
In addition to all of the shares within Google+ itself – because Bradley’s post got a bit of media attention (because it was a nice story) – a quick backlink check shows that Bradley’s post had been linked to a fair bit from elsewhere (including some fairly high authority sites like cnet). So this is just good old fashioned SEO – high quality links get you ranked! However it does reinforce the point above – write good stuff – people will share it!
So whilst this example indicated that shares and backlinks had a bigger impact than +1′s – there’s one VERY important reason why +1′s are a big thing for your SEO…
The Impact of +1′s on your ranking
All of the searches in the test above were carried out without being logged in to Google+. When you’re logged in – something changes.
You’ll see that web pages and Google+ posts that have been shared by people you’re connected to are pushed up the SERPS – like this:
So if your results are being affected by shares from people you know – that means that those people are also having the things you’ve shared promoted in their SERPS.
People who use Google+ tend to be logged in all the time – which means their Google search results are always going to be affected by their friend’s shares.
This means that there are a few things you should be doing right now to help promote your content:
- Connect with lots of people on Google+! If you’re using Google+ to network for business – get connected with as many of your clients (and potential clients) as possible – the stuff you share will start appearing in their SERPS (this will get even more interesting once Google+ business profiles become available)
- Encourage people to +1 your web pages The more +1′s your pages have, the more chance they have of appearing higher in the SERPs of people who are logged in to Google+. If you haven’t already… GET A GOOGLE +1 BUTTON ON YOUR SITE OR BLOG RIGHT NOW.
- Share Great Stuff! The key to good social media marketing has always been writing great content that people want to share and relating it to what you do. So do that! And share it
- Influence the influencers – find the people who are influential in your field, circle them and comment on and share their posts. Part of what makes the above posts rank is the influence of the people posting.
We’re just starting to scratch the surface really in terms of the effect that Google+ will have on your SEO and social sharing strategies – but with 20 million users already – and counting. The impact could be huge!
As we know Google loves video so take a look at using Google+ hangouts for great video content.
Connect with us on Google+
- Heather Buckley
- Colin Welch
- Follow Silicon Beach Training on Twitter
- Like our Silicon Beach Training Facebook Page
- Google Upsets Twitter (Again) With Search Plus Your World
- Why Social Search makes SEO like the Butterfly Effect
- 5 Things You Need to Know about Facebook’s Edgerank Algorithm
- What Do Facebook Read Receipts Mean for Marketing?
- Claim Your Content Using Google+