I’ve been hearing around the internet that Google+ is either well received as a social network, or it’s a complete miss when it comes to everybody else. But either way, Google+ is here and it’s here to stay. Because of the social aspect of the service, you can still use Google+ to your advantage if you know what you’re doing.
In this special Halloween edition (Well, as far as dressing up goes, as well as the fact that it’s not Halloween anymore as of the posting of this blog) Rand, aka Marshall Lee the vampire king, explains that if you possess the right people in your Google+ circles, you will be able to get yourself a heaping amount of top-ranked results for any sort of query in the SERPs.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a spooooky Halloween edition of Whiteboard Friday! I’m wearing some fangs this week, so if you have some trouble understanding me, don’t worry, all the text is right down there below.
I wanted to talk a little about using Google+ to appear in Google’s top results. It’s really interesting what we’ve been observing over the last few weeks and months of Google’s development, so check this out. If I do a search for “data science,” and I’m logged into my Google+ account (which is “randfish,” right—[email protected]), I see under data science “How Moz’s Data Science Team Works.” Which is pretty weird, actually—I think that’s very strange, because this was just posted on our Dev Blog, which isn’t on our main site. It’s a subdomain, and it doesn’t rank very well. If you search and you’re not logged in, you won’t find it in the first 100 results at all. It’s showing up here because it’s been shared by an account that I follow. It’ll say, “Moz shared this.” And that’s happening because of the Google+ integration.
You might say, “Okay, that’s moderately interesting.” I can search for very broad things, too, like “industry survey,” and get—yes, the S&P Industry Survey of the Americas, the Standard & Poors—but then I get “Take the 2013 Moz Industry Survey.” Whoa! Suddenly Moz is ranking all over the place. Again, this is happening because Jonathon Colman, Dharmesh Shah, Pete Meyers, and one other person I follow on Google+ +1’d it. Google+ biasing again.
And there’s more. I tried some queries for “happy Halloween.” Happy Halloween—think how broad a search query that is. There was a post by Gianluca that he had shared today with a photo, and that showed up in my results. Consumer purchasing power—a Google+ post by Avinash Kaushik showed up because it was shared and I follow him. Patrick Stewart! Patrick Stewart, I mean it’s a celebrity query that gets millions of searches a month (well, probably hundreds of thousands because Star Trek TNG hasn’t been on for a while, but in our hearts it’s always been on). A post by George Takei, right? I follow George Takei on Google+ so a post from him about Patrick Stewart is in there (it was a delightful post, by the way).
What this means for marketers, particularly SEOs who are using search and social and content together in their marketing, is the audience on Google+ is becoming more and more valuable to us. These are search-savvy, tech-savvy folks who are potentially reachable, and reachable without the classic kinds of ranking signals. I don’t have to do one tenth of the work that I had to do to rank for these types of queries before. All I have to do is get you to follow me on Google+.
Even if these people aren’t using Google+ as a social network—even if they’re not visiting plus.google.com, and they’re not sharing things and following people and +1’ing—it doesn’t matter, because they’re still being biased so long as they follow your account. So long as you’re encircled by those individuals, it’s valuable. And by the way, this is not just happening to people who have set up Google+ and are actually following you. It happens to anyone who is logged into a Google account, and has connected with you over email. Meaning, they’ve exchanged one or a few emails back and forth—it can’t just be you spamming them, it’s got to be that you’re actually receiving email from them as well.
Gmail is another way to get this same sort of bias. You can see it in there if you’re logged into your Gmail account, and you can see “Hey, I’m not following this person on Google+. Oh, we’ve exchanged emails, so they’re showing me these results higher that they’ve +1’d.”
Google+ sharing obviously is critical because of these influential factors, to SEOs in particular. But, be very careful, because think about this—if I shared every single page that I wanted to rank on just so that anyone who followed me on Google+ would be biased to seeing it? I would soon lose subscribers. In fact, I’m sure I would lose them very fast. People would be like, “What the hell is Rand doing filling up my stream? None of these have +1s.” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Google is using some indication of metrics around usage to actually determine, “Hey, wait a minute, this is getting no +1s, no shares, no comments; why would I show this to anybody? I’m pushing it down in the results. I’m not going to show it.”
These are all things that did receive quite a lot of activity. Well, actually, Gianluca’s post hadn’t received any activity yet, but it was very recent and lots of his posts do receive activity. So, if you overshare, you have to be careful—I like to say I think discretion is key here. Also, even if you don’t have a Google+ audience, it doesn’t matter because influencers—people who do have audiences on Google+—might be sharing your stuff.
That’s fascinating to imagine. It’s almost like “Hey, I don’t use Twitter, but if I can just get someone to tweet some of this stuff for me, I know I’ll get traffic.” Well, on Google+, it’s not just the traffic you’ll get—you’ll also get high rankings from all of their audience. It’s really remarkable.
By the way—one thing of warning. There is a time decay on this stuff. I don’t see all of the posts that George Takei has historically made (historically, I can barely say “historically” with these teeth)—that he’s historically made about Patrick Stewart, I only see the ones from just recently. So, there’s a time decay factor, it looks like between a week and a month, depending on which accounts you’re following and what types of queries you’re doing—at least that’s what I’m seeing in my accounts. Being aware of that time decay means that if there’s a topic that’s very valuable, and you know you have a potential social audience to reach that’s either following you on Google+ or connecting with you through email, that might mean that publishing on a regular basis—I might say “Hey, if ranking for consumer purchasing power is really important to me, maybe I want to put up a blog post every month or two about consumer purchasing power.”
What’s crazy is you don’t need exact keyword matching. The post about Patrick Stewart here did not have exact keyword matching, so this is a very broad algorithm that’s currently biasing to show these Google+ results. This is an incredibly powerful tool for search marketers and social marketers, and I think it’s something that is going to get a lot more attention in the year to come.