In recent news, Google has reported that 400 million users have upgraded to Google Plus with 100 million of those being active monthly users. Contrary to this news, other studies have shown that engagement with Google Plus has remained flat.
So which is it? Are people truly engaging, plus’ing, sharing or are the hangouts just not happening? The study by RJMetrics does suggest this as results show 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one. “So, why should our brand be present in Google Plus?” a client may ask. We can no longer respond with “Just like those other Google products, it’ll probably just fade away”…anyone remember Google Shared Stuff? Nor do I. Regardless, it’s evident that Plus is here to stay and the effects are greater than expected - maybe not yet from the grand scale of other social platforms but for search engine optimization it’s rapidly changing the face of Google’s organic results.
Check out my search for “richard branson”. You’ll notice the top results are sprinkled with references from GooglePlus. The www.Virgin.com listing show’s Sir Richard’s authorization on his published GooglePlus content, along with the number of folks in his circle…over 3million, he’s one popular guy! On the right of the results is Google’s Knowledge Graph which pulls in Richard’s picture from his Plus page and his latest Plus posting. Apparently Sir Richard is speed-dating type of guy, who knew.
Now take a peek at my desired search for “burgers in Chicago”. If you haven’t heard, last May Google moved all their Google Places pages to Google Plus Local pages. Every local result represented in the example below is from Google; you’ll no longer find yelp listings or any other local sources here. The word is, Google Local pages will migrate with the company’s primary Plus page if one exists.
It’s inevitable that content from and shared on Google Plus will show up in Google’s organic results, and I assume that overtime this content will sneak it’s way in and own more search space. Therefore, it is just that important that content be rich, engaging, and optimized.
It’s also clear that search engines are taking social signals into account in their ranking algorithms - confirmed by Eric Schmidt of Google back in 2011, “Google benefits of having social information of you and your friends.” and “That information allows Google to be better and that is our objective” via http://www.stateofsearch.com/eric-schmidt-confirms-the-social-signal-is-a-ranking-factor/. How much social signals factor into the engines’ secret sauce is unknown but it’s critical to keep in mind while optimizing content, whether on your Google Plus page or a client’s site, social influence and content discovery should be part of the strategy.
Bridget Sandine is a SEO Senior Account Manager for Razorfish. Outside of SEO, Bridget can be found at live music concerts burning a hole in the dance floor. Bridget also loves food, enjoys frolicking outdoors and exploring small cities that are cultured and kind. You can follow her on Google+ @