Any company looking to expand their marketing plan online is already looking into social media. Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are swiftly becoming essential business tools. Evidence suggests that Google+ could be the most important of all.
Close Ties to Google
Google's power over Search Engine Optimisation is well known and well documented. They essentially determine how successful a website will be, by selecting the factors that influence the ranking of a site. Facebook became a powerful social media tool partially by mistake. Studies showed that pages had higher rankings when they were shared frequently on Facebook. Google's statements, and further testing, indicated that they did not heavily weight Facebook activity as a benefit for PageRank. It seemed that the correlation worked in the opposite way. A page with a higher rank was more likely to be shared on Facebook. Google's release of Google+ as a Facebook competitor took it another step further. Google wants to draw traffic away from the social media juggernaut and establish it on their own site. As part of the attraction, they are making social activity count for your SEO. In fact, according to recent studies, the number of +1s a post has on Google+ is one of the most important factors for current Search Engine Optimisation.
Benefits beyond the Nebulous
It's easy to say that having a post shared on Google+ will give you a PageRank benefit, but that's hard to quantify across the board. How much traffic a +1 brings in depends on the article, the business, the person who gave the +1 and enough other factors that it's impossible to quantify. Google Plus has a number of other benefits, however. Instant indexing is one powerful feature. Google used to use Twitter as a form of real-time data they could use to establish influence and index real-time content. Twitter, in 2011, decided they didn't want to be used as a Google tool and cut off most of that access. At the same time, while Facebook helps share data on a purely social level, it hides most of its data from Google indexers. When you post something on Google Plus, it has no such restrictions. Google is instantly aware of this new content and indexes it into their search algorithms almost as instantly. Instant indexing means your posts have an immediate effect on your site PageRank and incoming traffic. You are able to see the increased traffic within hours, rather than days as a traditional blog post may be.
Blogging and Links
Google+ posts do not set their links to NoFollow by default, the way Twitter or Facebook links operate. With the close ties to Google, this means that the links on a Google+ post have just as much -- if not more -- influence as incoming authoritative links on other blogs. This link equity is another large influencing factor for SEO, and it means that Google+ posts have influence beyond their content alone. There are restrictions, of course. The only actual followed links are those you share in posts, not those you link directly in posts. At the same time, the title of the shared link is the anchor text of that link. This makes anchor text that much more important. Finally, you also have space for links in your Google+ profile's “About” page, which are also followed links. Take advantage of these links! Google+ posts also act much like blog posts. Every post has its own unique URL, for easy linking. The title of the post, as it appears to Google, is the first 40ish characters of the post, giving you excellent control over that tag. There are no space requirements; in fact, longer posts are strongly correlated with higher traffic and PageRank. Also, as with sharing above, when people share your post it automatically gains an internal Google link with link equity and SEO power. AuthorRank integration is a huge benefit to outside blog posts, but as of yet Google does not seem to integrate it into Google+ posts. The ability is there, and it's quite likely that you'll want to set up Authorship information sooner rather than later, but it's not quite a powerful factor right now. Matt Cutts discusses Google Authorship in this video:
How to Take Advantage of Google+
- Step 1: Make sure you're using the platform. You won't gain any benefit from Google+ if you're not using it. You also won't gain much benefit from it if you don't have large circles of people willing to read and share your content
- Step 2: Actively post on Google+. Treat it as a second business blog. Share posts between the two, but don't be afraid to post unique content on Google+ that doesn't show up on your blog
- Step 3: Add authorship information to all of your blog posts, whether they're on Google+, on your personal blog or on blogs you guest posted on
- Step 4: Use your Google+ "About" section to link to your other important sites. These links carry equity, so link to your company site, your company blog and the most important posts you want to promote
- Step 5: Add Google+ sharing buttons to all of your posts outside Google+. This way, other users can share your content without having to find it on Google+ first
- Step 6: Expand. Make it as easy as possible for other people to add you to their circles. Make sure your posts are easy to share. Make sure you're active, so your profile is growing
The Bottom Line
Google+ is incredibly important for building organic SEO. Every shared post has the same incoming link power as any editorial backlink. Imagine if your posts were linked by the leaders of your industry on a consistent basis, and you have some idea of how important Google+ can be. Make use of Google+. As part of a social media strategy, as part of an SEO strategy and as part of general marketing, it is essential. With Google ruling the field, playing by their rules is too important to skip.