Note: This is adapted from the lecture I delivered at SEO ORGANIZATION PH’s Mastering Online Ranking Conference 2013 held last week at Tanza Oasis, Tanza, Cavite, Philippines.
Google Plus (Google+) – Google’s very own social network doesn’t exactly have the best reputation, at least for people who are not hardcore internet marketers.
The public is either confused or misinformed about it. That, to be fair isn’t baseless. Google+ doesn’t get the big attention that mainstream media gives to Facebok or Twitter. When was the last time you’ve watched a news on TV about a story of a video that went viral on Facebook? How about a tweet that angered netizens? I’d say pretty recently and on a regular basis. How about something on Google+? Nada. Zilch. Never.
This explains what people think of Google plus, and we have Google suggest to thank for that: dead, a failure, down and annoying.
Google+ (with the plus symbol) didn’t fair any differently: dead, a failure, stupid and confusing.
But then the world somehow think the same about Twitter, Facebook, Social Media and SEO.
Twitter is down, stupid, not working and for losers.
Facebook is down, evil, dying and bad.
Social Media is bullshit, bad, not a career (now this is offensive for Social Media managers in particular) and stupid.
SEO is dead (ah yes, this one’s classic), bullshit, dying and not dead (finally!).
Regardless of what people think, the fact remains that there is a big correlation between Google+ pluses and Google SERPs. Moz blog published a very strong post on the matter, which was immediately followed by Matt Cutts acting like Matt Cutts again IFYWKIM.
Chicken or Egg?
This study can be described as a chicken or egg scenario. We can’t of course expect Matt Cutts to fully reveal their algorithm or tell you straight that this thing leads to higher rankings – if he would everyone on this planet would be doing the same thing, and that would in a way defeat their algorithm, it would allow everyone to game the system, and Google won’t like that. After all, ranking signals are exactly what they sound like – signals!
Do these entries on top of SERPs get Google+ votes because of the fact that they’re already there and when people research for a certain topic they would +1 these items after they landed on them? Or do these entries started to rank low, and then after becoming shared socially earning +1 votes and later rank higher in SERPs because +1 votes would indicate higher quality and relevance?
The same can be said to links that top SERP entries earn. Do they rank more because when people research about a topic to blog or write about they end up with these already ranking articles so they would naturally link to them since they used them as their sources? Of course we know that backlinks help in making something rank so I wouldn’t ask the counter-question. We can discuss this further and end up on an infinite loop of which came first or we can move on and not ignore the facts that Google plus can bring nothing but pure goodness to your search, social and digital marketing efforts!
Big Advantages of Using Google+
1. Fast Indexing
Having your article or post shared on Google+ results in fast indexing. How fast? Almost instantly. This leaves pinging, tweeting, trackbacking and other indexing techniques to dust.
2. Passes Link Juice
Google+ passes link juice because outbound links have dofollow attribute. Let me reiterate that: Google Link. Dofollow. Link Juice. Page Rank.
3. Semantic Relevance
Semantic search, knowledge graph and Google plus = these all add altogether to change our Search experience. Google plus with real time and fast inputs from real people would make things a lot easier for Google’s engine to fully understand semantics – all going forth to that goal of not just providing information in SERPs but usable knowledge and answers ultimately.
4. Author Rank
Have you heard the expression that you do not exist if you don’t have a social media account (at least for mere mortals like us), the same can be said to writers and authors who do not have Google plus accounts and in extension authorship markups on sites they write at – if that’s not today there’s a good chance that it soon will be. And because of many factors like adding credibility to your post, increased CTR on SERPs and many others, now’s the good time to put that rel=”author” tag on your websites.
5. Publisher Rank
While the authorship markup is for individual authors there’s one for groups or brands that publishes content: rel=”publisher”
Why are AuthorRank and PublisherRank important? It’s a clear and effective way to combat spam and to separate quality content providers and publishers from the not. To make it more obvious, you would not want your name (and your face) connected to low quality and spammy content – unless of course that’s your professional goal.
6. Clean Social Network
The numbers of fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook are staggering, not to mention the noise that comes along being the most popular social network on the planet. Remember why Facebook had to adjust their algorithm that decides which posts to appear on your wall? It’s because of the noise – too much memes, comics, quotes and rehashed and unoriginal content that easily tire a lot of people. Google is clean, at least relatively, and on an internet marketer’s perspective, it’s a great venue to learn what’s new on the search and social scene, connect with like-minded individuals and have social actually work for you – not the other way around.
7. Google+ is Here to Stay
Google+ is currently the 2nd largest Social Network on the planet. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Check the graphs produced by Janrain below:
What does that tell us? Google+ is here to stay. It’s not gonna be dead anytime soon. Google loves this product so much and they’ve implement a few great social networking features that other site(s) has just started to mimic.
So what do we make of this Google suggest results above? Is Google+ the future? Maybe yes. Maybe no. One thing is for sure, it is clearly part of the present now!
Google Plus Tips, Tools and Hacks
I currently have almost 6k circlers (or followers) on my Google+ account. It’s not a big number considering there are a lot of people with more than 6k circlers – some have tens to hundreds of thousands already, but in the Philippines which happens to be the social media capital of the world, it’s already a good number – at least according to CircleCount.
CircleCount is a very great tool if you want to measure Google+. It features raw analytics of your account and pages. It contains a lot of social data that you can use to improve your engagement, outreach, profiling and research. This by far is the best tool that I’ve seen, maybe next only to actual installation of Google Analytics which is currently not possible and installation of third party analytics code which is unlikely to happen.
I love to see graphs, especially if it indicates growth, CircleCount gives you just that. As you can see, I have grown my circle count to around 300% in the last 3 months. The better news? I only spend like 5 minutes on it every other day.
PRO TIP: Share only important and irresistible content. Having people remember you as the guy who shares something awesome is far better than people remembering you as the guy who shares shit.
CircloScope allows you to work on your circles like a pro. I’m talking about bulk adding (and removing) of engagers and Google plus users on a massive scale, thousands if you would like to. This is one of the reasons working on my Google+ account takes only very few minutes of my day.
Some of the things you can do via CircloScope:
- Add/remove people from a single circle/all circles
- Filter users based on whether you follow them or they follow you mutually
- Screen and encircle people from other people’s circle, posts, community etc
- Weed out non-followers or other data presets
There are also other exciting features that I think will be upgraded in the future like measuring of an account’ relevance to yours, bulk filtering based on when the accounts last logged in, categorization of account as sharer, engager, commenter and many other features.
PRO TIP: Don’t be afraid to tip the scales of your circles. That means follow and unfollow (or circle and uncircle) when necessary.
Timing+ is what it sounds like, a timing tool for Google plus.
Timing+ allows you to see the time (and date) of your post(s) with the most engagement, from there you will receive recommendations on when to post or share for maximum engagement – after all that is the point of doing social, to interact, receive responses, connect and engage!
PRO TIP: Check Timing+’s section on highly circled Google+ accounts. If you are on the same niche as any of the featured Google+ users then try to piggyback on the time when they receive the highest engagement. Remember that people on different niche/industries behave differently, at least socially.
4. IFTTT – If This Then That
IFTTT can do a lot of automation. It is unarguably one of the best tools out there to make your online life more efficient. It helps you work on different apps and extensions, platforms and websites – Google plus is not an exemption to that. These two sample scripts allow you to share what you share on Google+ to be published on Facebook and Twitter as well.
PRO TIP: These recipes allow cross-posting of all of the content/status you shared, if you want select cross-posting you can use this recipe where you need to put #fb before it’s cross-posted.
DoShare allows you to schedule your Google plus post. It’s a neat tool that when used with Timing+ can improve your Google plus engagement dramatically.
PRO TIP: Schedule important Google plus posts, this will give impression to your circlers that you are really active and on time.
Google Plus Hacks
Of course what comes after this line may be unethical and blackhat to some extent, so you need to take these with a grain of salt and for what it’s worth, I’m only sharing them here for educational purposes.
1. Transfer / Buy / Sell Google+ Page
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book: buying, selling and transferring of accounts. It is being done in Twitter and Facebook and even other social networks that came before them, Google plus cannot be an exemption.
Picture this, a rich Google Plus Page with huge count of followers can easily be transferred to a completely new website. I am not going to point out its disadvantages or advantages since I said this is for educational purposes only, i.e: now you know.
How to do that? Just edit the link on your Google+ Page:
2. Transfer Google+ Votes to another Link
In 2011 being in YouTube is a big thing for exploiters – outbound links on YouTube profiles during those times were set to dofollow, which means the pass PageRank. Exploiters didn’t let that pass. It was very easy to make your YouTube profile PR6, 7 or 8 simply by commenting on other profiles and videos and a PR8 page with single outbound link can do a lot, now imagine having tens to hundreds of high PR YouTube profiles – it was a riot and feast back then. There were a ton of low quality sites getting Pr5 and above because of that technique. Of course if you’re only learning about this today it means we’re not friends back then (among other things of course).
Why did I just share that? The same thing can happen to Google plus at the moment. You see this is an exploit that I didn’t intend to share at the conference until SteadyDemand blogged about it.
How does it work?
You dig an old Google plus post, edit it, put a new link on it that you want to have Google+ votes and voila, instant votes on the posts whichever type of post it is, regardless of the quality. The possibilities are endless and scary. Think of a post with gibberish content getting thousands of Google+ votes if you edit the shared post below as an example:
That’s 5,405 Google+ votes on ANY link that you can imagine.
Here’s my deck used on SEO ORGANIZATION PH’s Mastering Online Ranking Conference 2013: