Brands who balk at investing in Google+ do so for a variety of well-intentioned reasons. They feel that Facebook and Twitter are more effective platforms. They may lack the time and money to go "all in." Or they simply may not like the platform from aesthetic perspective or because their friends aren't on it. While acknowledging the validity of these reasons, we'd nonetheless ask you to consider Google+ through the lens of a practice that's increasingly important for your brand: search engine optimization (SEO.)
Though we will likely never know what comprises Google's mysterious algorithm, there is no shortage of experts trying to infer its ingredients. And studies suggest that more Google +1s received by a URL, the better the URL performs search rankings. Don't just take our word for it. According to our pals at Hubspot, "Search metrics found Google +1's to be the most highly correlated factor to search result rankings, and Moz's 2013 scientific correlation study placed Page Authority just above +1's at the top of all correlation factors."
The quick question then is, why is there such a high correlation between Google + and SEO performance? Two main answers come to mind.
1. The power of social signals. Google's algorithm strives to ensure maximum precision and accuracy in search results. To that end, it's constructed to make sure that robots and "content farms" aren't out to game the system by flooding the web with bogus content. This goal was the driving force behind Google's recent Penguin and Hummingbird updates, which underscored Google's love affair with high-quality, original content. Google rewards publishers with real-live humans creating compelling material.
But compelling material becomes even more compelling with other real-live humans. In the industry we call these "social signals," and that's where Google +1 comes into play. When a Google+ user clicks a +1 on a piece of content he or she likes, the algorithm says, "Hmm...people seems to like this stuff," and it factors positively into the algorithmic equation. Once again, don't just take our word for it. In 2010, Google’s Matt Cutts explicitly said that “social signals” — Likes, comments, shares, Tweets, and +1s — were factored into search ranking algorithms.
2. The way in which Google+ treats content. There's a reason why, for example, your Facebook posts don't show up on Google Search and it's not because Google is intentionally shutting out its hated rival. Rather, it's because Facebook's privacy policies prohibit most posts from being publicly indexed. Google+, however, is different: the platform indexes public content. This means that anytime someone else shares this public content, the content grows in stature, generating what's known as "link equity." And the algorithm likes that too.
Ultimately, one could argue that the best use of Google+ is for SEO purposes. It's safe to say that most brands prefer Facebook and Twitter from a pure marketing perspective. And with Google recently abandoning its Google Authorship platform, Google+ seems less attractive to bloggers and content publishers. Therefore, brands should view the platform as a way to boost SEO by adding important links to their company's profile page, optimize your brand's "story" and tagline, and link your Google+ page to your website.
Now we'd like your feedback. Has your brand experimented in Google+ marketing? If so, has it proven successful? If not, what's been holding you back?
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