Google+ is More Than a Social Network

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure by now you’ve heard everyone touting on and on about using Google+ for your website. Also like everyone else, you probably roll your eyes at the mention of Google+ while muttering “ I’m already on Facebook and Twitter, what more do you want?!” Google+ and ‘Social SEO’ is part of the way Google does search, and the fact is, Google+ cannot be ignored.

Google+ is so much more than a social network. Google refers to Google+ as a “social layer and a unifier for all Google products.” It all began in an attempt to improve search quality, and to weed spammers out. As Google continues to evolve, it’s becoming smarter about what actually matters to searchers by paying attention to social signals. Because Google doesn’t have access to all activity on the different social networks, this social layer enables Google’s search engine to see what’s important to users and to provide more relevant results.

Google+ was developed in part to track social data to provide semantically relevant results, and it does so through Google+ Business pages, Google+ Profiles, your activity with key Google+ features, and engagement.

“But my customers don’t use Google+,” you might say. And here’s where I tell you that it doesn’t matter. If you’re like most people, you probably sign in to a Google account at some point, remaining signed in during search. When you’re signed in, Google defaults to personalized search, serving results that are more aligned with your interests and intentions based on past behavior, activity and social signals, regardless of whether you use Google+. The following example of (not provided) keywords among a client traffic report paints a better picture at just how much of your traffic comes from signed in Google users:

britt blogYou can benefit from Google+ even if your customers don’t use it or a Google account. Even among non-personalized results, the Google+ social layer provides a wide range of factors that can impact your visibility, increase reach and traffic from Google’s search results. Your content on Google+, posts, pages, and profiles are all indexable and earn PageRank, just like any other page on the internet.

There’s been many tests that confirm shares and +1’s accelerate the speed and position of page indexing. I’ve also been witness to this lightning fast indexing using Google+, including new page ranking in the SERPs the day a domain was created. Although my Google+ link test results didn’t show a direct benefit from Google+ without PageRank, recent tests show that shared links from the post body do pass value to the linked page. But as with any linking practice, this should be used with caution.

Google Authorship is a pretty big deal. Although Google’s Matt Cutts denies Author Rank is used as a ranking factor, many SEOs (including myself) believe that authorship still has an influence. Authorship in a nutshell is your digital signature tying all the content you’ve authored across the web to your Google+ profile, establishing yourself as the expert you are with a reputational score. In search, Google uses authorship to determine if your site is relevant for SERPs based on the info given in a Google+ Profile. In turn, Google gives your site enhanced result listings that includes pretty images, detailed info, calls to action, etc… all which are important to improving click through rate and getting more visitors to your site.

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There are so many things you can do with Google+ for SEO, but where to start? I suggest beginning with your individual Google+ Profile and building authorship, then get started on a Google+ Business Page for your brand. Pptimize your Google+ Profile and Business Pages for public search including full descriptive content about yourself or what you’re business is about and links to your site, blog, profiles, or anywhere else you’ve contributed content. Start publishing content that your customers would appreciate, and make it worthy and easy to share with others. Start following others and take full advantage of Google+ Communities with engaging content and questions.

There’s so much to Google+ that I simply cannot cover all of it in one post, so you can definitely look forward to future posts about how you can use Google+ for your business.

What successes or difficulty have you had with Google+? Leave your comments or questions below!

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