How Will Google+ Change Search Engine Optimization?

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The web is going crazy with buzz surrounding Google+, a new social network from our friends in Mountain View, CA.  We’ve had a chance to dive right in and explore all of the features Google+ has to offer, from populating our various friends into Twitter-esque “Circles”, to a multi-way video chat function called “Hangouts”.  We’re admittedly impressed with what Google has created – from the well-conceived structure of the social network to the aesthetically-pleasing design of the user interface, it’s not hard to tell that Google+ certainly has the potential to be a winner.

As Google undoubtedly knows, however, they are facing an uphill battle.  Overtaking Facebook as the dominant social network will be quite a struggle.  Should Google+ start to gain significant market share, however, it will drastically alter the landscape of the web, starting with how Google algorithmically ranks websites in their search engine.

 Why will Google+ change SEO?

If Google+ continues to rapidly expand, search engine optimization as we know it will quickly begin to center itself around the social aspects of the web.  It is no surprise that Google is interested in bringing their search product in this direction.  It has been a known fact for sometime that Google incorporated social signals from websites like Twitter and Facebook into their search algorithm.  Should Google+ become a serious player in the social network industry, you can expect this emphasis on social signals to increase.

Google+ will give Google’s search team an incredible amount of information to work with.  They’ll be able to really study how people interact and identify the movers and shakers in different networks and industries. They’ll have more information than ever from each of their users. Search is going to become a highly personalized, social experience. We’re coming back full-circle, transitioning from a completely algorithmic search experience to one that very much so involves content curation by the user.

What search signals will Google+ create?  

The Circles feature will help Google to understand the influencers within its network.  Similar to Twitter users with a high number of followers, Google+ users that are included in a large number of circles will be indicated as movers and shakers within their network.  This provides Google with a way to measure the amount of trust any given user’s actions should be afforded.

The +1 Button brings back content curation to search engines in the trust sense.  Undoubtedly inspired by Facebook’s Like button, the +1 Button will give Google insight into which specific pages are liked by users.  This information can certainly help Google determine what pages are authoritative within any given niche.

Google+ Sparks are equitable to Interests and Activities on Facebook.  Sparks will give Google firsthand knowledge of what their users are interested in, giving them an easy platform for ad targeting and customized search results.

Google+ Profile Data gives Google more information than ever about their users.  Not only is this helpful for demographic segmenting in advertising, it also provides Google with an opportunity to understand who/what their users are affiliated with in terms of employment, education, location, and their other social networking accounts.  This could give Google the most accurate picture yet of exactly who you are.

Mobile Apps will bring the localization aspect to Google+.  Smartphones nowadays almost all include GPS, and those who allow Google to access their location will give Google an understanding of where you are, where you go, and who you’re with.  AdWords advertisers are undoubtedly salivating over the possibilities this could create.

How should I change my SEO approach in a Google+ era? 

  • Add the +1 Button to your website.  Make it easy for Google+ users to endorse your website by adding the +1 button to your website and blog.  (Tip: Use WordPress?  There’s a nifty Google+ Plugin available.)  While you’re at it, start working Google+ into all of the call-to-actions on your website.  Don’t just remind users to Like you on Facebook and Follow you on Twitter – ask them to +1 you as well.  You can bet that +1′s will positively affect search rankings, so the sooner you can start racking them up for your best content, the better.
  • Focus on building great content.  The best SEOs in the business have been promoting content-based SEO campaigns for years now, but the advent of Google+ makes implementing these strategies a wiser decision than ever before.  Put your effort into making interesting, engaging content that Google+ users will share and +1.  There is a reason why you always see content like top 10 lists, FAQs, infographics, and link roundups in your social media streams all the time – the content is extremely linkable, and likely created with social media audiences in mind.
  • Get your business on Google+.  Well, not just yet.  Google is asking businesses to refrain from creating profiles on their new social network until it has rolled out all of the business-specific functions.  But when the time is right, make sure you jump on it, and give it every bit as much TLC as your Facebook and Twitter presences receive.  Once you have your profile setup, don’t forget to promote it in your other social media channels, as well as through your e-mail list.  This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to take advantage of every communication channel they have with their customers.
  • Don’t forget to track your Google+ success.  Google recently made it easier to track referrals from Google+ in analytics software.  If you’ve got Advanced Segments setup to track your Social Media traffic, don’t forget to add the plus.google.com domain to the segment.  With a little bit of tinkering, it can be easy to track your success using Google+ as a traffic tool.  Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

 

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