What is Google+?
It is the new face of social networking and is Google’s product positioned to compete directly against its rival Facebook. It allows users to share content and interact with other users through a +1 button and organize friends in circles that can be targeted with different types of content.
Until now Google had to rely upon other ways of collecting social data. By scraping together Facebook “Likes”, shares, tweets and other social uses of content, Google could
draw inferences about user experience.
Google+ gives Google access to an entire stream of social data signifying how users interact with a site. When combined with data collected from some of its other services such as Gmail, Google Toolbar and Google Buzz, the search giant can develop a
complete picture of a user’s action online.
Ranking content has become increasingly more complex as the internet started evolving towards a more social landscape. For anyone in SEO it’s become evident social factors were playing a role in rankings.
Many SEOs questioned whether the search engines were capturing things correctly and criticized the lack of transparency in how search engines ranked content.
Google answered these criticisms. Included in its webmaster’s tools is a +1 metric. This indicates how site content is being and shared through Google+ and how it has impacted search.
Webmasters now have access to information showing social interactions with their site.
In simple terms webmasters can see how each +1 received act as a vote in popularity for their site. They can see what type of content has more influence over readers and
how particular topics will likely rank based on these +1s.
How does this change the face of SEO?
Google is the king of search. In providing information as to how it’s using +1 as a ranking factor Google+ makes SEO more social.
This clearly is a move to not only protect the integrity of its search index but an attempt to raise the bar with respect to user experience on websites. It follows a clear path started several years back with updates to its search algorithm that resulted in many questionable links and questionable content receiving high search rankings.
By making SEO more social it makes it more difficult for website owners to manipulate search rankings. Webmasters must now place a higher value on what a user is doing while
on their sites and provide a better user experience.
The inclusion of the +1 metric in the webmaster tools also addresses criticisms levied towards Google about transparency in how it determines ranking in its index. By clearly showing how the +1 data is used eliminates some questions around this fuzzy thing Google continually described as “user experience”.
While Google+ is the new kid on the social networking block, watch for it to become more popular as webmasters and SEOs attempt to get an advantage over the competition.
What’s your take on how Google+ will change SEO? Is SEO becoming more social?