As I’m sure you’re aware, social media can be utilised as a means of evolving your brand identity, interacting with potential customers and even driving traffic to your businesses website. However, you may not be aware of the increasing impact that social media, and Google+ in particular, is having on the SEO industry.
Google+’s Impact on Rankings
However much you may have tried to ignore it, Google+ is seemingly here to stay. Google+ activity and +1′s, as a whole, have been seen to result in improved rankings on Google. Indeed, the impact of Google+ is even more apparent when it comes to local SEO.
Specifically, Google will take into account the number of shares, the authority of people sharing your content, and the location of the individual interacting with your content. Therefore, it’s imperative that you make your content shareable and clearly signpost a link to your company Google+ page on your website.
Personalised search results
By default, Google returns search results that are the most relevant to you personally, assuming you are logged in to a Google account. Personalised search results will obviously include content that correlates with your search, but will also show “pages, photos, and Google+ posts from your friends”. Google personalises search results in order “to deliver you the most useful, relevant content for your search.”
Therefore, if a number of individuals in your Google+ circles have +1’d a certain shoe store and you’re signed in to your Google account, this store should appear higher in the search results than it otherwise may have done whenever you carry out a related search query.
Like it or lump it, personalised search results are decreasing the influence of SEO in a number of areas. Instead, personalised factors are having an ever-increasing impact on which sites feature for certain search queries.
Google+ is literally changing the face of SEO. I’ve just discussed how personalised search results are determined based on the information Google has gathered from your Google+ circles, but the influence of Google+ in the search engine’s results pages has had even greater visibility since the introduction of Google Authorship.
Many Google search results pages now show the picture of the author next to the content that he/she has produced. You’ve probably already encountered search results that look like this:
The example above shows author images appearing next to the content they’re attributed to, and if you haven’t already done so then I’d encourage you to link your Google+ profile to any blog content you’re currently producing. Articles with Google+ author images by the side of them are proven to increase click-through rates by 150% compared to those articles without Google authorship. Not only this, but those articles with Google authorship are also given a line of extra space in the search results, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it’s worth spending time linking your posts up to your Google+ profile! As the saying goes – it pays to be seen. In other words, it pays to be active on social media networks like Google+, which is where these author images originate.
The Growing Impact of Google+ on SEO
Google+ is the social network that’s having the biggest impact on SEO today, and it’s influence is only going to grow. Facebook may have a bigger market share, but Facebook doesn’t write the algorithms for the most widely used search engine in the world; Google does.
Indeed, there are already arguments claiming that Google+ authorship will directly impact search results in the near future. To explain how this might work, here’s a description from Google (visible in a patent for Agent Rank):
“The name of the writer can be used to influence the ranking of web search results by indicating the writer responsible for a particular content piece … Assuming that a given writer has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that writer will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable writers in search results.”
The impact of Google+ on the search engines is clear to be seen, and still evolving, which is characteristic of the SEO industry as a whole. It’s sometimes easy to forget that anything created on the internet is in fact social. Every article we read or website we visit is connected with an individual author or business, complete with their own Google+ profile or company page. Therefore, the impact of social on SEO is only going to increase as the connection between websites and their human owners becomes more visible.