Google +1 Changes the Face of SEO

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?

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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14 Responses to Google +1 Changes the Face of SEO

  1. Well I’m just about to dip my toes in and see how Google +1 is going to affect my websites rankings and SEO marketing efforts. Recently we responded to the changes in Googles new algorithm after we noticed that our site was not always and in some cases no longer showing up on page one of Google for our main keywords and keyword phrases.

    We had already responded a year ago and joined in the social media climb by setting up a facebook page for our company.

    However after noticing a slip in rankings this summer my first response was to begin blogging, after the first week, blogging had already proven to show some improvement and has helped us in our climb back onto page one. Somewhat. Since I had to say somewhat I know my work isn’t quite done yet. So next up is Google +1.

    I’ll keep you posted and let you know what I find in this new land of “Onezies” by Google.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth Urlacher

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are appreciated.

      If you notice you’re slipping in ranking, you’re probably feeling the effects of “Panda”, Google’s latest algorithmic change related to content / user experience. Sites are seeing their rankings reduced because they are offering up a poor user experience or content that is somewhat questionable.

      Blogging / social media offers fresh content, an opportunity to reach out to your readers and improve social experience. You will see an improvement. Google has also launched +1 and shows this as a “social metric” in your Analytics (or webmaster Tools) account. Again, it’s a measure of how people are viewing your site / content.

      Barry

  2. Barry,

    When someone decides to Google +1 a website who sees this information? The website owner and Google or does everyone get to see how many people have Google +1’d a site? For example I just Google +1’d your BarryWheeler.ca site. (it was an honest 1’ing I really like your information and writing style)

    So does this mean that any one who is a contact of mine in my Gmail account will have privy to see that I have Google +1’d your website when they come to BarryWheeler.ca? Or how does this work?

    Thank you for your help. Learning with Baby Steps here!

    • Hi again Elizabeth,

      Your +1 metrics are visible by anyone who has a +1 account and are supposedly signed into it. It is still yet to be seen how this will play in the larger scheme because I’ve noticed +1 metrics showing up on sites and I haven’t been signed in. Anyone in your Circles should see you’ve +1 a site, same as if you “Liked” a page in Facebook.

      Google+ is in Beta right now. How this will all play out will gradually become available.

      Thanks for the comment and the +1.

      Good luck on the social internet! 🙂

      Barry

  3. Thank you Barry! I’m going to log into my website’s Analytics account and see if I can spot the Google +1 in there. I’ll go and peek now.. I’m sure Google will have made this very user friendly. I’ll you know if it was from a newby-Google +1 point of view.

    I agree, this new metric will evolve over some time for Google. However, I don’t expect it going to go away rather it will only improve. So my hunch is to get on and in the Social game as it is evolving so that I don’t have to re-live a Panda experience. I have always practiced very clean and natural link buiding which I believe has helped us in our recovery. I just wasn’t social enough in the past. So we are getting social now over here.
    Okay over to my Analytics Account next. I’ll let you know if I come accross any “Grey areas” when setting up my Google +1 information.

    Oh.. quick note, does the +1 button slow your web page load time? When I set up my analytics code and our facebook like buttons I purposely positioned them lower on my pages so that they wouldn’t overly hinder my pages load time. Is this an issue or a non-issue? Thanks!

    • The +1 button shouldn’t impact the load time of your site. Positioning is totally up to yourself.

      I’ve implemented mine at the top just because I didn’t like how it looked on the bottom. I’m utilizing a plug-in for mine.

      Barry

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hello Barry,

    I will be using the code provided by Google for the Google +1 button. I’m glad to hear that it won’t slow the load time of my pages. This said, I’m just selecting the code now.

    Barry do you use the +Snippet option? Can you describe an application that would be a “best suited use” for the +Snippet?.

    It appears to me that this an advanced option to give google more information about the +1 which people are +1’ing.

    What a discovery and interesting journey this is moving into Google’s new and highly improved algorithm!

    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I don’t use the Google code, I have a plug-in installed called Twitter Facebook Social Share. Where I run a blog, it allows me to easily add it to multiple locations on my site.

      The +1 snippet is very much like the “Like” button in Facebook. With the +1 snippet, you can share a link, image, and description and that can get shared among the a group of your chosen friends, along with any added commentary. These +snippets provide a much more user friendly and enhanced experience. It is hoped these will generate better click-through rates for publishers and hopefully result in more conversion when they come to your site.

      Hope this helps.

      Barry

      • Elizabeth says:

        Hi Barry, thank you for sharing your favorite plug-in. I’ve just installed it on to my blog. It’s great. It defaulted to be at the top of each of my blog postings. Now I can clearly see how easy and clean these social media buttons look. Lovely. WordPress is phenominal – very user friendly.

      • Thanks Elizabeth.

        I just checked out your site, looks great! Can’t wait for more of your Hockey Spirit to be shown! 🙂

        Have a safe weekend.

        Barry

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I just recieved a newsletter from WebProNews and am reading an article by Chris Crum. Here is what he is saying:

    “So beginning today, we’re making it easy for Google+ users to share webpages with their circles, directly from the +1 button. Just +1 a page as usual and look for the new ‘Share on Google+’ option. From there you can comment, choose a circle and share.”

    Barry have you been using this feature, and how do you feel about the power of “Share” Better yet where would I as a typical +1’er see this share circle? Would it be in my Gmail account? I’m curious since I am both a business person who is applying the power of Google +1 to my website, and I am also a new regular everyday person who is just finding the facebook equivilant “like” button when using the Share feature with Google +1. Where would I find this “Share on Google+ otpion Chris Crum is describing?

    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I got the same article as well. From what I have read, Chris from WebProNews is talking about the +snippets that you have referred to in one of your previous comments.

      I haven’t had an opportunity to dig into this in detail yet, but have decided to make it the focus of an upcoming article. I’ll let you know when it’s published!

      🙂

      Barry

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Quick note: I’m considering selecting a Google +1 button with out the annotation, simply because I want to keep the look and feel clean on my website. Do you feel that I’m loosing some power in the +1 endorsement effect to my website visitors by doing this?

    I’m mostly interested in feeding Google my Google +1 input, moreso than being overly concerned that my visitors will see that a friend of thiers endorsed our site. We are an international company rather than a local business. For this reason I’m making this choice. I think the likelyhood that a customer in Mississagua Ontario will know another customer in Pittsburgh PA is a small chance. Do you agree? Good choice in your eyes? I’m wide open to any suggestions here.

    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      It’s a matter of personal preference, but without the annotation sounds like it’s the best fit for your site. You’re not going to be sacrificing any of the “social” interaction or suffer from a ranking perspective because you’ve left this off.

      Remember, Google uses many different metrics for ranking. It collects information from their desktop search, toolbar, gmail etc … the +1 metric is simply Google’s own measure of “social” … there’s also Facebook likes, Twitter tweets and many others. The fact you’re allowing ALL users, not just those based on geographic location to interact via the new +1 item, will lead to great things about your site.

      Experiment and play. Watch your analytics account and give it some time. What works for one site may work differently for another site. Readers may be different based on niche. If users are more “technical” they may want to see other things.

      Have fun!

      Barry

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