Google+ SEO Game Changer
The SEO impact of Google+ is no longer a mystery. It’s real and it’s getting bigger. Consider that when Google+ first became available in June 2011, it was met with relative skepticism. Despite the fact the social network comes from behemoth Google, it was Google’s third attempt at a social network.
Little did we know that Google’s motive was less about capturing market share from Facebook or Twitter or other social media channels. It’s now evident that Google’s primary motive behind Google+ is to maintain more control over the search marketing landscape.
While Google is increasingly diversifying its business (e.g., Android), it is first and foremost in the search engine business. Google is vying for ad dollars from marketers, and vying for mindshare from you and me to use Google as our preferred search engine to find stuff we need. Facebook has emerged as a serious competitor for ad dollars, and that is what Google has their sites on.
Branded Google+ Profiles
Google opened up Google+ for brands in November, 2011. A Google+ page is in concept very similar to a Facebook page. One difference is that when you publish content from your Google+ page and select “public” as an audience option, that content can show up in Google’s search results for people logged into their Google account. Google is not able to (nor probably interested) in indexing Facebook page content. All marketers are well served to post quality content through a Google+ page for this reason alone.
+1 Content Sharing
Google first announced the social sharing signals in October 2009. Since then, the +1 signal has been progressively increasing. Speculation that when people “like” your content through a +1 click, Google favors that content through search engine results position (SERP) improvement is no longer speculation. The now famous experiment by SEOMoz Rand Fishkin is one of several experiments that proved Google’s ranking preference for content that has been +1’d. Sharing content in Google+ has a similar affect. When someone in one of your Google+ circles shares content, you are more likely to see that in a search result.
AuthorRank is Coming Soon
Google results are more personal than ever before. Google wants to reward individuals for publishing and sharing quality content, and is similarly showing signs of penalizing anonymous content publishers. I like this because it is consistent with the social business movement which motivates brands to publish content through employees (real people). It requires that businesses ask their employees to set up Google+ profiles and connect their blog content to it so that their content will be displayed as their content in Google’s results. Brands need to embrace the fact they can not hide behind a logo, but rather leverage the expertise of their employees.
A Word About AuthorRank
At the time of this writing, Google has not fully disclosed how to get displayed as an author. Sure, they’ve published the “authorship” instructions. I have followed the instructions to the letter but my author profile has not yet been displayed in search results. I suspect this is because AuthorRank is not yet official. Nonetheless, brands should get ready for widespread availability of AuthorRank as it will be yet another influential role in search engine optimization results.
A Search Marketing Arms Race
Remember that Google and Facebook are in intense competition for time spent on their respective sites and utility. Google wants to remain the top search engine choice among users worldwide. And, while Facebook boasts more than 1 billion users compared to a mere 100 million active Google+ users, Google has billions of searches performed everyday in its search engine. And, that’s what Google wants to maintain. Everything Google does is in defense of its search engine market share. And, that’s why Google+ is so influential on SEO.