Google+ has not exactly lit the public imagination on fire, but it has proved to be Google’s most popular social offering for techies and internet marketers to-date—especially when it comes to how Google+ interacts with search engine optimisation and inbound marketing. The value of social across all search and marketing parameters has been heightened in the past few years, but obviously Google has kept search in mind when building its own social media network.
So how can website and blog owners (or the marketers working on their behalf) use Google+ to their advantage? Here is a quick guide to the benefits of Google+, and why +1s could be the best way for your websites to rank higher.
1. The correlation between +1s and ranking is astounding
A recent piece of research by search behemoth Moz.com concluded that Google +1s have the second great amount of correlation with ranking after Page Authority, and are more highly correlated than number of linking root domains. This is astounding in its implications, and it does suggest that those interested in ranking higher should focus on Google+.
But as any data analyst knows, correlation does not equal causation, and Matt Cutts has said himself that +1s are not used directly in the algorithm. Instead, it seems that Google+ posts generally give a SEO boost because Google+ as a social platform just happens to be better optimised for SEO purposes (for example, in that it is crawlable). As Cyrus Shepard noted, the point is not to go out and try amassing a huge quantity of +1s. Instead, you should simply focus on making sure your best content gets onto Google+ so that it can be shared naturally and build up some of those benefits.
2. Links from Google+ can sometimes pass on some link juice
As already noted, Google+ is almost built for search and in terms of available data is simple has greater connections available for Google than either Facebook or Twitter. Unlike most organised links nowadays, some links from Google+ seem to be followed (most are no-follow, but seemingly the primary shared link is still followed as rich media) and therefore their very existence holds some value. While this is just one small part about what makes Google+ posts valuable, it is something to definitely bear in mind.
3. The mystery of AuthorRank
Matt Cutts has said that, as of right now, AuthorRank does not exist. Linking your Google+ page to a website post via the rel=”author” tag has some benefits (your article gets your pretty profile picture next to it when it comes up in search), but right now it is not a ranking signal. That does not however mean that the author tag will never be used that way.
Links right now are used as a ranking metric because they are a relatively straightforward way of assessing importance and relevance. Matt Cutts did say that “Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover that, and maybe over time social or authorship or other types of markup will give us a lot more information about that.” What is perhaps even more telling is Eric Schmidt noting in his book ‘The New Digital Age’ that:
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. [emphasis mine]
Even if Google+ authorship isn’t pulling any punches now, it probably will one day. In the internet marketing world, it always pays to be ahead of the curve and to anticipate future movements. Get on the bandwagon early and there may be rewards.
4. Google+ is growing
Let’s face it, Google+ right now is not exactly the coolest kid on the social media block and is largely ignored outside of the tech community. Yet that does not mean that it will always be this way. Google+ has certainly established a base, which is more than other Google social networks like Wave ever did, and that base is growing. As noted recently over on the inbound marketing Iconsive blog, Google+ is right now a tech haven and is also great for local businesses. It might take a few more years, but deeper integration with successful Google products like Search, Android and Youtube—combined with the success of new features like Hangouts—could mean that Google will join the big-boys club with Facebook and Twitter soon enough.
5. Social matters, no matter what platform you use
Outside of discussions about whether the SEO benefits derived from +1s are better than Facebook likes or Twitter retweets, social in itself simple has value. Building a social base on any network will help solidify your brand, bring you new visitors and simple encourage sharing and collaboration. Sometimes when you are trying to improve your search rankings, you need to stop obsessing so much about search metrics themselves and step outside the box. Concentrating on doing your job—creating awesome websites with interesting content and sharing that content—is just as important when it comes to making your website rise through SERPS. All in all, social media platforms like Google+ are valuable tools, so use them: any ranking and search benefits are simply icing on the cake.
Guest author Ashley Williamson is a freelance writer and an occasional guest blogger interested in business, marketing and SEO related topics. When she is not working she likes to travel and read as much as she can. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.