There seem to be a lot of assumptions out there that you can use Google Plus for successful link building. This is related to the belief that the page rank and authority of your Google Plus profile can have a significant impact on Google’s search results both in Google Plus and in the regular Google SERPs. We set out to determine the truth of one such rumor. Due to speculation about the effects of link building directly to the Google Plus profile, we created a test set to determine what would happen if we concentrated link building efforts at a Google Plus profile rather than directly linking to a web page.
I went out on a limb and stated my belief that concentrating links to Google Plus author profiles would lead to a higher rankings for its corresponding web page. I was wrong. Site #2 with direct links from the TargetClick blog to web page out ranked the Site #1 (experimental group) pages 5 out of 5 keywords. However, that’s not saying Google Plus doesn’t have a hand in higher rankings for sites, just that directly linking to Google Plus profiles didn’t work.
Site 1 pages (experimental group) will outrank pages on Site 2.
Using different keywords, we tested if in four or more instances, the pages linking only from Google Plus would outrank the pages with direct links from an external source plus links from Google Plus profiles.
The purpose of this test was to measure the impact of link building using direct links to Google Plus profiles. Five fictitious words chosen at random were selected for this test. We created pages for each keyword hosted on two separate domains, and established ten mock Google Plus profiles with verified authorship of their corresponding keyword page. We then linked to all five Google Plus profiles for Site #1 authors, and directly linked to each of the created pages on Site #2 directly from the TargetClick blog. All other factors the same, our objective was to determine which pages ranked the highest for their respective keywords through Google search.
The site #2 pages with direct links from the TargetClick blog, were indexed at the #1 position for all 5 keyword searches. However, in each instance, the Google Plus author profiles from site #1 (experimental group) with direct links from the TargetClick blog ranked in the 3rd position and higher than the site #2 author profiles for each search. Additionally, the same Google Plus author profiles were indexed with Google modified title tags with the matching search term replacing the author’s name as a ‘best fit.’
Keep in mind, Google Plus profiles, posts, pages, and communities CAN outrank indexed pages on a site in all levels. I saw some fluctuations during the test with Site #1 authors profiles ranking higher than Site #2 author profiles, but the web pages always outranked the author profiles. But interestingly, each of the Site #1 authors ranked #3 in search for their respective keywords with a modified ‘best fit’ title tag from Google… So clearly, Google sees the author profiles directly linked from TargetClick as most relevant.
Why weren’t results as expected?:
PageRank of the linking author profiles weren’t enough to influence rankings of the authored pages. Although each Google Plus author profile was verified and provided the same number of external followed links to their respective sites and pages, not enough PR was established to make a difference to the ranking of external sites from Google Plus profiles. There’s more to Google Plus than simply verifying authorship and linking to your site.
PageRank is the foundation of ranking factors for Google Plus and authorship. Since Google Plus profiles, pages, and communities can all build and pass PageRank, it’s more important to focus on building PageRank via links from other sources to avoid giving away any your own. I would recommend using traditional link building methods with an rel=author tagged, or concentrate efforts on link building through Google Plus via links from communities, profiles, pages, etc.