It’s been three years since Google+ launched, and in that time reactions to it have been mixed. The platform has yet to reach the top of the social media community. But as a tool for improving organic search results, it’s become a force that digital marketers and SEOs can’t ignore.
Today I’m kicking off a series of posts about using social media to increase SEO, and I’ll start with Google+. I’ll share best practices that reflect current thinking about where G+ has been and where we think it’s going.
Why use Google+ for SEO?
Backed by the deep pockets and huge ambition of the Google corporation, Google+ is the third-largest social networking site in the world behind Facebook & Twitter.
The most obvious reason to use G+ for SEO is that Google owns it and wants you to. But there are also indirect benefits for user experience. Until August 2014, Google Authorship was one of them—Google has discontinued author markup and is encouraging the use of Rich Snippets & Structured Data.
To get the most from G+, you’ll need to connect your website and G+ profiles, and then start interacting with others. The following steps will get you started. Google+ offers lots of other ways you can use the platform; this list represents best practices that we at Adobe and countless others have culled out in the last three years.
Best Practices for your G+ Account
- Have one. Create a business account for your company. Consider a personal account, too, especially if you create a lot of content.
- Build out your profile. I suspect that if Google had its way, your G+ profile—not your website—would be your primary online real estate. It’s a valuable asset, so spend some time on this. Here’s why.
G+ profiles are used for all Google products, so their reach is potentially huge. There’s this, too. Last fall, Mark Traphagen from Stone Temple Consulting found that profiles act like standalone pages for purposes of page ranking in Google Search. More evidence that Google takes them seriously.
So fill in your profiles –business and personal—with as much information as possible. Build circles of influential people, and invite links back to your profile from reputable websites.
Now you’re ready to:
- Participate. According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, only 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies had “active” Google+ accounts at the end of 2013. Don’t follow this example. With both business and personal profiles, it’s important to get active. Engage with circles, G+ communities, and individuals. These actions will increase the authority of your profile.
- Publish. Content published on G+ has a much higher SEO potential than posts shared on Facebook or Twitter. Each post basically functions like a blog post, with its own URL and the first 50 or so characters showing up in the title tag. Google+ posts are indexed immediately into Google. Longer-form pieces appear to have relevance for semantic search functions, especially when they explore a subject in depth.
You can also embed G+ posts directly into content on your website, where visitors can interact with them directly. Your content does double duty and reaches more eyes.
Best Practices for Your Website
- Enable G+ sharing and endorsements. The +1 button lets people share content on G+ and/or recommend it in Google Search.
Google officially denies that G+1s affect rank. But pages with high levels of G+1s have been correlated with higher search engine rankings in studies by Moz and Searchmetrics. So it’s worth adding the button.
You can also install G+ badges that help people interact with profiles, pages, and communities.
- Link your website to your G+ business profile. “Rel=publisher” markup links an entire site to a corporate G+ account. The name is kind of misleading—it’s not about publishing, it’s just about linking and sharing information. Here’s how to set it up.
- Share your website content on G+. Add accounts here.
Google will index it for search faster if you do. Easy.
As a social networking site, Google+ hasn’t lived up to its initial hype. But it’s still important as a boon for organic search results, and there are lots of steps you can take to make the most of it. Look over this list and see which ones make the most sense for your company. Lastly, stay on top of changes to G+ because this is a product that’s changing all the time in ways that can affect you.
Do you have any other best practices to add? I’d love to hear your experiences.