Why go Google+?

Google+ (G+) has, arguably, disproved the barrage of commentators predicting its downfall and is making strides towards becoming a great network and useful resource. Last year, more than 600,000 new users and five billion +1 uses were recorded every day, with 60 per cent of users logging in on a daily basis.

But one key thing that differentiates G+ from its social counterparts is its integration in Google’s repertoire of products. This has only grown since its creation and all evidence indicates that the company will be moving further in this direction in the future.

“I expect brands will notice this and will build marketing plans around it,” Bradley Horowitz, vice president for products at Google+, said.

Updates like Search, plus Your World have provided tantalising glimpses of what the future holds for the network, but the burning question for many is ‘does Google+ provide SEO benefits and if so, how does this work’?

Google Plus

Plus One

To provide a quick recap, the +1 button is part of Google’s ongoing crusade to improve the search experience for users and is designed to help them “discover relevant content” from “the people they already know and trust”.

While it’s been established that adding +1 functionality on your site can more than triple the amount of visits directed your way via the network, it’ll also have what Mashable coined an ‘indirect’ effect on your search rankings.

In brief, when a G+ user +1’s an item – he is approving, if not outrightly recommending it. So, if one of his network acquaintances conducts a search relating to the aforementioned item (or a similar topic), because of the recommendation, Google will deem the +1’d item more relevant.

Industry stalwart SEOmoz conducted a study into the issue and discovered a positive correlation between social sharing and search ranking. So what lessons can we learn from this? Well, as Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder at the company said:

“Pages that earn tweets + Facebook shares also correlate well with earning links, and send direct traffic on their own – ignoring these services at this point seems foolish.”

Google+ Page

Make Social Sharing Simple

Although we’ve established Google+ goes beyond being simply a social network, the rules of marketing via this type of platform do apply (to an extent). By maximizing your presence, you can capitalize on any SEO value it may have. But what are the best ways of doing this?

  • Create, optimize and verify your brand page By signing up for a G+ business page, you’ll get all the usual features it offers, in addition to some extra goodies. You can tie it to your brick-and-mortar location via Google’s Local Business component and allow your users to find you via Google Direct Connect.
  • Content is King, Queen, Duke, etcAs with any social (or general SEO) campaign – great content is one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal. It’s not only a step towards bolstering your AuthorRank, but will enhance your visibility on G+.
  • Share and share-alikeMost people don’t have the time or inclination to produce reams of their own content, but there’s nothing to stop you curating the work of others you think your audience might find interesting. Make sure you’re promoting stuff besides your own and citing whoever produced the content. This isn’t just good etiquette, but may encourage more follows and shares.
  • Put your +1 in a prominent positionDon’t hide your +1 under a bush. Make it one of the first social sharing prompts your readers get.
  • Fit the formatTake a look at the items in your G+ feed, you’ll notice photos and videos are much more frequent than huge chunks of text. These types of content are more easily digested and will promote sharing.

Google+ is growing into a great network and is only set to benefit further from its integration into Google’s product line. So it would seem that brands ignore it at their peril, even if its SEO benefits are poorly understood at the moment.

Even though the industry has yet to fully get to grips with its implications for search, by approaching G+ marketing as you would any other social platform, optimising and above all, being relevant and interesting – your brand should be well-placed to take advantage in the coming years.
Article written with help of James Vernon from Custard.co.uk.

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