Ranking sites, in 2013, is a combination of good on-page SEO, excellent content, off-page SEO via relationship building (formerly known as link building). Social shares are an integral part of off-page SEO. How many times have you read an awesome post or seen a really cool infographic and you just wanted to share it with your social circle? Almost everyday, right?
Well, the big three have made it easier and easier to share this content. Facebook Likes, Twitter tweets and retweets have become the new social currency. Share enough cool stuff and you’ll make more friends and gain more followers. Google jumped into this fray in 2011, and turned the whole concept on its head. Not content with creating a simple social network; they optimized the system to be much more than that.
First off, setting up a G+ account is easy. As of early 2012, all new Gmail accounts are automatically signed up for Google Plus. The kicker is the phone verification that comes with setting up a Google account. This caveat has made this system hard to spam. This automatically reduces the misuse and abuse that other social networks have received. There are bots that create accounts and spam FB and Twitter every single hour; thankfully this not the case with G+.
As a social marketing tool, G+ has features that provide huge benefits to webmasters. One of the most important is Google Authorship. This allows you to create a profile and join groups (called Circles), of like-minded people to share stuff. The posts you share can increase your visibility by showing up high in the search engine results. By show up, I mean:
- Your picture shows up beside your posts
- Other posts you have written are seen
- The amount of people in your Circles
These 3 features subconsciously make web searchers click through on your listing, as they grant you expert status in their eyes. Google is all about meeting and improving user experience. If your content is deemed good enough and you show up for the requested search terms, your sites will be rewarded with a higher CTR, more visitors and even more shares.
This domino effect has caused a lot of controversy among webmasters. Many claim that getting a large number of Google plus votes will automatically improve a sites’ search engine rankings. This is a case of correlation not equaling causation. The reason your site will show up is due to the aforementioned domino effect. G+ is simply a part of a much larger ranking formula.
Regarding features, Google didn’t stop there. It allows you to tweak your articles after posting, e.g. you can add more content and media to get even more shares. G+ also allows your shared content to show up in the search engines, unlike your posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Corbett Barr said, “Write Epic S@#t”. I agree with the general premise, but today, your content can range from kick-ass infographics to podcasts. Create content that will help your visitors and don’t forget to share it with people in your Circles. It can only spread as it is shared over and over again.
For a method of improving search engine rankings that doesn’t involve the latest and greatest spambot, or having to rotate proxies every few hours, having a G+ profile is one way webmasters will use for a long time. G+ is:
- A platform that encourages social activity via sharing and networking.
- A platform that can accelerate personal branding.
- A platform that has been tipped to surpass Facebook by 2015.
G+ is 755 days old today. In that time, it has become a strong contender in the social media arena. Will it be here 5 years from now? As long as Google continues to tweak and make it better, I think that is a safe bet to make.