Is Google+ Imperative For SEO?

Chris CrumSearch

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We all know that Google has over 200 signals it uses when ranking content, but you know what Google loves to rank well when its relevant? Google stuff.

Should Google rank its own properties over others’ sites? Tell us what you think.

While there have been plenty of complaints and much regulatory scrutiny into this topic, that’s a discussion for another article. The fact remains that Google gives businesses and sites plenty of tools and resources where you can actually use Google’s own search results to your gain.

One example of this would be Google Places. It’s simply a great tool for consumers to find local businesses. How often do you use the phone book these days?

Another example would be YouTube. It may be hard to get your site to rank for certain keywords, but Google loves to put video results on page one when relevant, and Google just so happens to own the world’s biggest video site. Even if this means they’re technically ranking their own stuff for visibility, you can benefit from this by using YouTube and videos to promote your business.

I’m not going to go through all of these examples, but suffice it to say, you should be trying to be found in Google’s various other search engines, besides straight up Google Web Search. These can in turn get you found in results from regular searches via universal search.

Google+ has introduced a whole new realm of SEO possibilities based on getting found via Google’s own properties.

For one, Google ranks Google+ posts in search results, and they often appear on the first page.

The +1 button obviously helps your search visibility cause. Google made it clear from the beginning that this would be a search signal. If enough people like your content enough to give it a +1, it must be good right? Why not bump it up in the rankings.

Direct Connect lets consumers find your brand’s page pretty easily from the Google search box.

Google likes “freshness” now. Stuff that is recent can appear higher in rankings these days. Google+ updates tend to be recent, and can be very rich in content, depending on how much you put into them. They can also spark conversations and sharing, which should all help your cause.

Google+ is also what Google wants to replace Twitter with in realtime search. You can bet that this will come back sooner or later. Google is failing its mission in search without it.

Google+ now has trending topics. It will hardly be a surprise if this finds its way more into the Google Search experience in one way or another.

You can optimize your Google+ Profile itself. Kristi Hines at Search Engine Watch has a great article on this. This image she shares drives the point home.

Google Plus Profile For SEO

It’s become quite clear that your Google profile matters tremendously in Google search now. Watch this video from Matt Cutts last year, well before the launch of Google+ and the loss of the Twitter firehose.

“We’re also trying to figure out a little bit about the reputation of an author or creator on Twitter or Facebook,” he says.

Of course, now things have evolved a bit. Enter Google+ - a direct way for Google to get access to YOU.

Also enter authorship markup. Google has been pushing this as a way for content authors to send Google direct signals that content is indeed connected to them specifically. Now, we see author pictures appearing next to Google search results on page one all the time. And guess what those link to. The Google+ profile. This is why in an article a while back, we called your Google profile the next ranking signal.

Here are some clips from Google instructing you how to implement authorship markup:

By the way, Google also recently added circle counts and comments to authorship.

Google+ Pages are of course available now for businesses. If you haven’t started using them, what are you waiting for? And don’t be like McDonald’s and set one up only to not add any content. It’s not worked so well for them so far (although I doubt McDonald’s is too hard up for search traffic).

And don’t forget about the analytical benefits you can get from Google+.

At BlogWorld a couple weeks ago, Chris Brogan said, “Google doesn’t index all of Facebook right now. It’s a lost cause for SEO, they’re also no longer indexing Twitter. Google does index anything publicly for Google+

One thing you will do well to keep in mind is that “Google+ is Google.” This is a mentality that Google has expressed on more than one occasion. If you’re ignoring Google+, you’re ignoring Google. Remember, if you want Google to RESPECT you (give you more search visibility), you should probably respect Google and the means you’re given. Google+ is only going to get more integrated with every aspect of Google.

Have you had an impact in your search visibility since using Google+? Let us know.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.