Google recently announced the most major transformation ever to their search algorithm and how it displays results to users. The “Search, plus your world” combines data from Google+ networks and the public internet. These changes propel Google+ into the status of major player in the social network wars for our attention. How will these changes effect search engine optimization for web sites? What does this mean from a social search strategy? These questions and more had me curious and stumped, so I turned to the person who I knew could best shine a light into the changes and their implications; Ed Reese of Spokane’s Sixth Man Marketing.
Ed, and his company are among the most regarded and respected in their field of search, SEO, and other geeky type stuff, so I thought I’d sit down and ask Ed to “shine the search light” into what all this means.
So, Ed, explain the new Google changes in regular people talk?
What do the changes mean from an SEO and web site optimization standpoint?
It definitely makes an impact. This somewhat “officially” announced to the general public how important Google believes social signals to be in determining quality content. And while it’s still a read-between-the-lines statement to some degree, they aren’t hiding that fact that incorporating a Google+ strategy into your marketing mix will likely help search rankings.
So how did social media influence search ranking algorithm in the past? Google’s big announcement made it sound like this is a new ranking factor.
We’ve been tracking social media’s influence on search engine rankings since February of 2011. SEOmoz wrote a great blog post about Twitter and Facebook’s influence on search rankings last Spring that documents what was going on at the time really well. The best example I’ve personally seen is from the Bloom Spokane. Last February they wrote a blog post that ranked #3 on page one of Google for the very broad phrase “birth advice” within 48 hours of it being published. For a small non-profit to outrank big sites like Mothering.com, the BBC, and Wikipedia that quickly was pretty crazy. We found out that the blog post was shared by nearly 200 Facebook pages in those first few days. And some of the Facebook pages had A LOT of followers. Google was tracking Facebook shares as a signal that this was quality content. It was the social sharing that was the main signal to Google that this was quality content out of the gate. It’s received natural inbound links (the traditional ranking influencer) since and has gone to the top spot for phrase “birth advice.” But it was the social sharing on Facebook that got it to the top of page one so quickly.
How does Google+ play into things now?
Google+ amplifies that effect. By adding circles (networks) of people on Google+ with common interests Google is able to create its own social graph of and determine what the these Google+ circles determine to be valuable content. The biggest upside, however, is that through personalization people in your circles are MUCH more likely to see your content (whether a website, blog post, etc). The downside is that Google+ still isn’t widely adopted by the masses (and I’m not certain that will happen). That said, Google has been very aggressive in marketing it and the likely increase in organic search traffic will be a continued to bring business owners and marketers on board. We’ll see how that plays out in the long run, but for now it’s something that I believe people can’t ignore from a marketing perspective.
What additional information is out there that people should check out?
I’d talk to people with direct experience using Google+ that have SEO and social media experience. Get Listed University is coming to Spokane on April 27th and will be a great opportunity to talk with some of the best folks around to understand how it fits within a good SEO strategy.
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I know you have a Google+ class coming up as well. I think that would also be a great opportunity for people to learn more about it in person. In terms of online information, I think that SEOmoz has some great information about both Google+ and social media’s growing influence on SEO. Here’s a quick list of their best blog posts and presentations on the topic:
- Why Every Marketer Needs a Google+ Strategy
- How Google+ Uses SEO to Steal Search from Facebook & Twitter
- Social Media for SEO (Presentation by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz)
Thanks, Ed, for dropping the knowledge bombs about Google, SEO and Social Media. Looks like ignoring Google+ is a foolish thing to do and properly optimized social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are essential for rankings and listings.