GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 19 - February 2012

Social media SEO –Google’sG+,+1 andSEO By Gary Beal i t has been over a year now since Google Plus was released and lots of juicy information has come out so I thought I would hit on the high points for those who do not follow SEO or so- cial media the way we SEO freaks do. The concept behind G+ and +1 is simple: Copy what Facebook did. Google saw the growth of social networks and decided to try to take advantage of an opportunity by joining the fray. There are actually three distinct parts to G+ and +1: Circles and other social media elements The first part is a more personal page similar to what you see on Facebook, the difference being that you create “circles” of friends and classify them into each group accordingly. When you come across an interesting piece of content you sim- ply share it with individual circles (e.g., Friends, Family, or a custom group that you create [see image below]). Drag people to circles to follow +1 button (actually a separate tool but I have added it here) The second part of G+ is a “+1 button” to allow people to recommend sites and parts of sites, similar in use to Facebook’s “Like” button. If you have the feature turned on you will see a little button at the end of each result when you are using Google to search, provided your pointer is hovering over the URL. If you perform a search and find a site that someone in your circle has clicked the G+ button on, you will see his or her name below the listing (see image above). You should add the +1 badge to your web- site. Google+ will gain more users and websites will integrate them more in the future, meaning that the information we share will be pushed to more and more people. This presents an excellent oppor- tunity to promote our websites, in much the same way that Twitter and Facebook do now. The G+ page And last but not least, the best element from an SEO’s standpoint: the G+ page. In the beginning it was only made avail- able to non–business-related application, and Google even went so far as to shut down pages that were obviously there for business-related reasons. Even Sesame Street fell victim to Google’s wrath. Google finally released its features to ev- eryone a few months after its original re- lease, and the dashboard lit up. Okay, so now you are asking, “So how can I use this in terms of SEO?” After excruciatingly testing various as- pects of G+ and +1 I determined that in terms of actually boosting your search engine rankings G+ and +1 have not yet been integrated into the algorithm. An example of this is taking one of my rank- ing sites, adding the G+ badge, then go- ing to Fiverr.com and buying a bunch (hundreds) of G+ votes over a period of a few months and from different networks, but there was no discernible impact. Then I tried setting up a network of unique IPs. And over the period of about 60 days that each of these hundreds of individual searches ticked the +1 button that showed up in the search, nothing happened. In terms of the SEO benefit from either the +1 or the G+ button, it’s a matter of the size of your network. Those sites with the G+ badge or those that have received a “vote” or +1 click from someone in your network were featured more prominently, as seen in the image above. Additionally, Google pulls in data from other social networks. So let’s say you or someone in your circle did a Twitter post. Google may even show that in their results if you are signed in to your Google account. Social media SEO – Google’s G+, +1 and SEO

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