A significant part of social media is all about recommendations and sharing. In terms of SEO, receiving links from one website to another has long been a big factor in how Google ranks its results – but this has placed a considerable amount of power to publishers.
Thanks to social media, any average user is now given a slice of the action – as what they share and suggest has started to contribute to how people rank in Google.
Social search is happening
As SEO and social media overlaps, it is crucial for marketers to plan for search as part of their overall social media strategy.
The arrival of Google+ last June signalled the search giant’s intention to enter social media, but whether or not this was to directly rival Facebook was a matter of debate. Earlier this month, Google’s introduction of Search Plus Your World made it apparent that personalised search results are indeed going to be extremely reliant on Google+.
There has been backlash from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace engineers who created a “Don’t Be Evil” application that removes the Google+ exclusivity of the new search results – and this leaves us with an interesting question – how and where should we focus for social search?
The argument for Google+
As far as ranking in Google goes, you have to play by their rules.
Right now, Google+ is weighting content from Plus heavily, particularly the profiles of people and pages that it sees as being relevant to a search term. Just imagine the boost to your traffic and credibility if your personal photo, or company logo, can appear in a search for your niche above the paid advertising!
Another point to consider is that traditionally, Google takes age into account when it ranks websites – a brand new site is unlikely to be as trustworthy as one that has been established for many years. For this reason, it is worth establishing a track record on Google+ sooner than later. Google will also be using Plus to combat spammers, as your Google identity should be connected to a real person and behave in the same way – so if you create accounts out of the blue just to boost a page, it will look suspicious.
As for the rival social networks, we can’t precisely say what the future holds. Will Google face anti-trust action that means its algorithms have to treat shares equally? Will Facebook’s connections to Microsoft and Bing result in an entirely new search engine?
You would be mad to ignore the significance of Twitter and Facebook for traffic, but unfortunately right now they will not do much to influence your search results. I have seen some social media commentators use Twitter as way to direct followers to their Google+ pages, which seems like a good compromise and also an opportunity to leverage both networks.
So how should you use Google+?
Right now Google+ is still in its infancy, and particularly for brand pages. The main thing to remember is that getting a relevant network is going to pay off in the long-term. This means that you should take advantage of some of Google+’s unique offerings:
- Enter industry discussions, responding to other people’s shares or comments. Even better, start your own! Google+ offers threaded discussions that surpass Twitter exchanges, as the format allows for much longer contributions.
- Share interesting images and graphics. You can use animated .gifs on Google+ which is something that give all kinds of opportunities to be creative.
- Add +1 buttons to your website and blog posts, these give your readers a simple way to recommend your content – if you do only one thing on Google+, this should be it.