The official Google search blog announced yesterday that it has integrated content from its social network Google+ into organic web results. While this is a fundamental change to search engine optimization, it’s not a total surprise. Google previously featured the +1 button in ads, organic results, even +1 metrics in Google Webmasters and Analytics. The difference is now, the web results contain more than just +1s. Below we take a look at some of the common questions that may arise from this Google SERP change.
I Have a Google+ Profile and I’m Worried About Privacy. Is my Google+ Information Public?
When you create or edit your profile, you can set it to “visible in search”. This allows it to be indexed by engines. If you uncheck this feature, your profile page will be private, visible only to your circles. However, even with a private profile, you can still select the “public” option for sharing. If you want a private profile but want to share anything with the entire world, this is still possible.
I Want to Share Something on Google+ For Only My Friends. How Should I Proceed?
Let’s say you want to post a link for only your friends to see. You can post content and then select from the drop down menu, +Add circles or people to share with. Select only your Friends. Now you’re sharing content that people in your Friends circle will see on their stream in Google+. They may also see this post in search results on Google if they search a relevant query.
On the drop down menu, you can see your other sharing options which include “Extended Circles” and “Public”. Extended Circles is like the Facebook settings “Friends of Friends”, meaning if you share something with “Extended Circles”, you’ll be reaching the circles of all of your friends. Public posts are the posts that can appear in web results for anyone signed in to Google and using Google Search, Plus Your World.
What Does Google Search, Plus Your World Mean for SEO?
I’ve already seen web results showing Google+ content. The screen shot below is a view of above the fold in Google’s SERP for “Mashable”. The first result is Mashable’s domain, with their sitelinks visible in the normal spot. Every other link in this screen shot is a link to something on Google+, 14 in total. This takes a lot of the traffic and revenue implications associated with top Google rankings away. If you sell a product and your competitor has a dominating Google+ page, you could rank in position 1 organically, but with all the distraction in the new layout, and all the links to your competitor’s Google+ content, your top ranking may mean less than it did before. The bad news here is that a brand with a huge Google+ network can have significantly more information and links available at a quick glance than you, even if you have the top organic result.
Don’t Panic – This Can Be Good!
What have we been hearing from Google for years? What does Matt Cutts preach in almost every video he records? Content, content, content. Don’t farm links, don’t buy links, don’t get low quality links, don’t worry about PageRank, don’t fill your site with ads. Create good, insightful content. In other words, create content worth sharing. The day has finally come. While this mix has made the job function of SEO even grayer than before, the mantra is still the same, “content is king”.
What Should I Expect to See In My Search Results?
This is still being rolled out by Google, but expect to see the same posts you see in your stream if you search for something relevant. Below is my screenshot of my search query “Google Search Plus Your World”. Famed author Danny Sullivan is in one of my circles, so his icon shows up next to something he shared on Google+. Once more users get on Google+ and the sharing and the circles grow, you’ll see more and more results tailored to your query including photos, videos, posts, comments and +1s.
What Should I Tell My SEO Client?
Don’t drop all you’re doing just to hop on the Google+ bandwagon. This search integration is still so young, there’s no formula yet for a proper Google+ strategy. In a nutshell, it’s just another social network, so treat it as such. Set up a branded page, complete the profile, place a link on your profile to your website, add any other links such as Twitter and Facebook, and start sharing. You can search on Google+ to find people talking about your brand, services, products or asking questions that you can answer as an authority. Add them to your circles and comment on their posts, share with your circles, and generate online conversations. Don’t worry if your competitors are ahead of you or if your Google+ content isn’t showing up on a Google search for your brand name. As long as you are participating and distributing quality content, you are on track for success.
Tell us what you think about Google+, Google Search Plus Your World, or how you plan to adjust your SEO campaigns with this new search feature.