More than half of all internet searches are completed through Google and some estimates put the figure even higher than that so if a business wants its website to be visible in search results it needs to use all of the tools and tactics at its disposal – and that includes Google+.
Often referred to as the poorer rival to the Facebook juggernaut, Google+ is actually a powerful and unique tool in the world of content marketing and search engine optimisation.
As Google owns both the search engine and the social media network, it stands to reason the two will be closely linked. However, effectively using Google+ as part of a search engine optimisation strategy is still neglected by many brands and their social media agencies.
Unlike the ‘post and share’ set-up used by Facebook and Twitter, users of Google+ focus on verification and visibility. It is these two words that best describe the potential benefits of using Google+ in any search engine optimisation strategy.
The Google+ Authorship mark-up connects a Google+ user with the content they produce. For example, a blogger or journalist will insert a short piece of code from Google+ into any articles they write. The inclusion of the code links the content to the author and displays the author’s Google+ image in the search results page on Google.
This achieves two things at once; internet users are more likely to click on a result with an image and it also acts as verification that the content is accurate and from a known source – a bit like the blue tick on verified Twitter profiles. However, Google goes one step further because it uses this verification to give the content a small boost in page ranking which make it more visible in search engines.
While Google has not revealed exactly how this system works, it has confirmed it is an effective way to boost search rankings.
Eric Schmidt, Executive chairman of Google, said: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification.” Not using a Google+ profile as part of the Authorship scheme means a business is not making the best use of the online content its employees create.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ uses a system called ‘Circles’ to group people with similar interests. Google Circles is a powerful tool when it comes to search engine results because advanced Google algorithms will tailor internet search results to the user’s browsing history and interests.
If a search user is searching for a term relevant to an author’s content and that searcher is included in a particular author’s circles on Google+, any content created by that author will be more likely to appear higher in search results.
The bigger a brand’s or author’s Google+ network, the more likely it is that the businesses or individuals’ content will be served in search results. Also, as all content published and distributed through Google+ will appear in the timeline of those who have circled the page, the more engagement posts receive the more weight the brand, its content and its website obtains; all of which lead to greater visibility in search results.
While much of the attention continues to be on Twitter and Facebook, the search benefits of using Google+ should not be ignored as part of a wider search and social media strategy. ROI might not seem attractive to some brands right now but, looking to the future, the impact that Google+ has on search is only going to increase and could be a deciding factor on what content gets ranked in Google.
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