Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about how Google+ is influencing search engine rankings. Is there any truth to this? Is it just pure rumour or reliable conjecture? Are there results and data to back up these claims?
We know that Google is effectively pushing everyone with a Google account – Gmail, Blogger, YouTube… pretty much any account – to use Google+. In fact, the recent Google+/YouTube comments integration generated over 120,000 signed petitions online. Why? Because Google is doing everything in its power to either beat Facebook or become the world’s biggest database of personal information (that’s a topic for another day).
It would appear that many people think Google+ is really influencing search results and rankings. In fact, a recent study by Moz pointed this out. Although in all fairness, Matt Cutts – Google’s anti-spam chief – cautioned against this.
According to him, the examples used in the study probably ranked because people liked the content and shared/approved of the content which in turn influenced its rankings courtesy the link juice – not the +1s. Interestingly, another study by Eric Enge of Stonetemple seems to corroborate Matt Cutts’ statements. So, for now, there is no conclusive or definite proof that it does help.
Why Should You Care?
Simple, Google is gradually migrating towards user-driven content. Sure, they have been doing this for a while now. But it will become more apparent in the future. Content with lots of social signals – likes, tweets, shares, +1s – are more likely to rank because in Google’s eyes, the users or searchers have decided that the content is very good.
And since it is Google’s main goal to provide only the best results, content like this would probably end up in the top positions for relevant keywords. Think of it as a rating system of sorts – sort of like yelp, only there are no reviews.
So, What Would We Advise?
Get a Google+ Account
It doesn’t hurt. If it’s useful now and in the future, fine. If it isn’t, you can always discard it. Not only is this good for your business, but also good for your brand. With that account, you can create a Google Authorship account, which is also generating a lot of buzz online regarding its ability to influence higher search engine rankings. Optimize the Google Authorship account and start creating your blog posts and articles under that account.
Create Epic, High End Content
Google+ or not, you need to start creating powerful posts, videos, articles and infographics. The more epic your content is, chances the higher it’ll rank courtesy the amount of links, shares, +1s, Tweets and likes.
And even if the +1s don’t influence your rankings, great content will always get shared and you’ll benefit from the huge and diversified traffic spikes that are possible from this. You’ll also get to build an audience – a tribe, if you follow Seth Godin – become a thought leader in your niche and possibly, create a more visible brand that people can and want to associate with.
Get and Optimize Your Google+ Local Account
The Google+ Local option replaced the previous Google Places. Similar to Facebook business pages, this is a way for local businesses to create listings about their businesses on Google. Business owners can list their businesses, addresses, maps, location, phone number and all other relevant information. Think of it as an advanced yellow pages listing – although some people would disagree.
Let us know what you think? Do you think we’re wrong? Do you think Google+ is just another fad that’ll pass soon, much like Google Wave and Orkut? Or do you think it has its benefits? Sound off in the comments section.