Google+: Social Media Platform or SEO Tool?
Who remembers a few years ago when it seemed as though there was a correlation between Facebook posts and Tweets on search engine rankings? Well now you can dot your i's and plus your 1's because there's a new social media service in town. Launched nearly three years ago, Google built Google+ in such a way that would have most industry gurus believing it was built specifically for SEO (at Terrostar, we refer to this as content marketing). Google is also pretty much the emperor of the internet gods so who was to stop them? What all of this tells me is that I really shouldn't ignore Google+ despite the fact that, if they've even signed up, most people and businesses I know aren't very active on it. Neither should you and here is why.
More than one industry authority (here is one example and here is another) has confirmed suspicions that, second only to Page Authority, +1s are strongly correlated with better search results. Okay, that you might have known already (and yes we do recommend you +1 the heck out of your website to make it easy to get those votes), but what about Google+ activity? Could the simple act of being social help your search engine rankings? How is it set up so perfectly with Google search?
Cyrus Shepard from The Moz Blog notes three key areas where this social media service is more like an SEO tool than a tell-me-all-about-your-problems-don't-forget-the-selfie-and-what-you-had-for-breakfast sharing tool. Straight from his blog from August of 2013,
1. Posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately.
Unlike Facebook, which hides data from Google, or Twitter, which directs Google not to follow most of its links, Google+ data is immediately and fully accessible to the company that built it. Google has been using Google+ to discover new content, and many web professionals have discovered that URLs shared on Google+ are crawled and indexed very quickly.
2. Google+ posts pass link equity.
Pages and posts on Google+ not only accumulate PageRank, but because links to posts are followed, they pass link equity on as well. Certain links in your Google+ "About" page are also followed and pass link equity.
3. Google+ is optimized for semantic relevance.
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, each post you make in Google+ has most of the characteristics of a full-blown blog posting. This not only helps the post itself to rank in Google's search results, but potentially sends relevancy signals to a URL shared by the post.
So where do you start? Shepard lists the top nine ways to optimize your Google+ experience. To view all of them, follow this link. Below are the three we feel passionately about. Almost as passionately as we feel about ice cream.
1. First, join G+ (if you haven't already) AND USE IT. Follow, share, comment and +1 the things you like or feel are relevant. It may seem like a ghost town but fight through the awkward silence: Google+ is the new Facebook and then some.
2. Add Google authorship information to your online content. Shepard says, "Adding rel="author" to your website is a no-brainer. If you guest post or otherwise contribute content to other high quality sites, ask the publisher if they will add author markup to your bio."
3. Take advantage of rel="publisher" by connecting your website to your Google+ brand page. Another no brainer is to link everything and don't forget to link up to Google Maps if you are a local business.
There is so much to all of this that there's no way to do it any justice in 600 words or less. And while today's blog may bring more questions than answers, I hope to have at least pointed you in the right direction. If more clarification is needed, I'm here to help - just comment below. I even accept hate mail in the event I've sent you on a wild goose chase and you need to vent to someone who will listen (better odds of getting me to listen than Google!). Perhaps we'll do a series on this and closely related topics if there is enough interest. Good luck in all of your Google+ and SEO (a.k.a. content marketing) endeavors!