SEO in 2014 – The Google+ Effect

Google+Google+ is Google’s Social Media network, it also one of the second largest Social Network (behind Facebook) in the world with 540 million current users in only about 2 ½ years of being active.  The reason for its massive growth is pretty simple, if you have a Gmail account, YouTube account, or any other type of Google account you also have a Google + account.  Whether you like it or not.

Behind Google & Facebook, YouTube is the third most visited site on the internet and Google + just acquired their user base.  Gmail is also the biggest email provider in the world, Google + also acquired their entire user base.  One more tool that helps Google’s numbers is Google Chrome which is the most used browser in the world (~55% of all users as of December 2013) and which also is built in to work with all of Google’s products which require a sign-in to your Google Account (Google+ of course included).

As more and more of us become Google + users (whether we realize it or not) our data is being collected and is also being used in Google’s search algorithm.  This is beginning to re-shape the way the search giant ranks and displays websites which will be crucial for many digital inbound marketing strategies.  Here are some of the big ways in which Google+ will be affecting search in 2014 and beyond.

How Google+ is affecting search

1)  Authorship

Google+ Authorship is going to continue to play a big role in how Google ranks websites.  Adding an authorship tag to your website and blog is becoming an essential SEO task that should be followed up with fresh creating content on a regular basis.  Creating engaging content on your site and blog on a regular basis is a great way to build natural links.  Another great way is by contributing to as a guest blogger on popular blogs in your industry and adding your authorship tag as a contributor.  This process expands your Google+ contributor network adding to increased impact on site rankings in 2014 and moving forward.

Here’s an example of How Google+ Authorship looks in search results:lucid authorship

One important note is that Google is choosing not to display authorship for all sites/authors unless they believe that author has some clout.  In fact on December 19th 2013 they actually reduced the amount of people displaying Authorship by ~15%.

2)  Publisher

– In addition to making a Google+ profile and adding your authorship to your site, you should also create a Google+ page and attach the rel=publisher tag to the site as well.  This shows Google that you are the owner of that Google+ page and will also direct Google to important information they could use for their new Knowledge Graph.  Here’s an example:

knowldge graph

3)  +1’s = Higher search results

There is also some significant evidence that there is a correlation between having more Google+ 1’s for your page and ranking.  In fact a recent study it was second only to Page Authority:

http://moz.com/blog/google-plus-correlations

With that said I am not under the impression that inflating your +1’s unnaturally, such as purchasing them, is a good SEO strategy.  In fact I personally believe this could hurt your rankings as Google might begin working this into their algorithm.

4)  Google+ posts in search results

The next Google+ effect on search in 2014 and moving forward might be the biggest of them all.  If you are a Google+ user you may have begun to notice that Google+ posts from members of your circles are beginning to show in search results.  Here’s an example:

google+ search

This has some very powerful implications for the future of Google search results, mainly because of who you have in your circles.  For example if you are a flooring manufacturer such as Travertine Mart it would be very beneficial to have general contractors in your circles.  This way anytime they post something related to Travertine, when the general contract searches for “travertine tiles” they will see their recent Google+ posts with that keyword in their search results, usually on the first page.  Rand Fishkin of Moz did a fantastic presentation on this in a recent Whiteboard Friday.

5)  Hashtags

The last way Google+ is changing search results is in the application of hashtags.  Hashtags are an, often overlooked, but incredibly powerful marketing tool that is now being further facilitated in Google search with the help of Google+.  Although I do not believe that hashtags will ever replace keywords in the traditional sense they are a fantastic complement to your search marketing efforts.  Here’s a quick example, CBD Glass is manufacturer of unique architectural glass work.  The hashtag #glassart is popular on all Social Networks and doing a twitter discovery using that hashtag will show you who is using it in their tweets, but if you enter it in Google search you will see all the people who have used this hashtag in their Google+ posts.  Google hasn’t fully released this feature for all hashtags but once they do applying relevant, popular hashtags in your Google+ posts will begin giving your company more and more exposure in Google search results.  Here’s an example of how a hash tag search looks in Google Search Results:

hashtags

As you can see Google is making sure to show Hashtags from Google+ posts very heavily in search results from a Hashtag search.

Google is working very hard to grow their already monster Social Network and we can expect to see continued growth and an eventual eclipse of the Social giant Facebook sometime in the next few years because of Google’s holistic approach to their products.  What this means for you and your business is that Google+ cannot and should not be ignored for the future of your digital marketing & SEO strategy!

Mark Gadala-Maria is the Founder and Owner of Lucid Digital LLC a Miami based Digital Development and Marketing Agency