The following article is Part 2 in a two part series exploring the optimization strategies for branded pages on Google+. Part 1 discussed optimization methods and tactics.
While still in early stages of development, the prominence of Google+ in search results and potential benefits of properly optimizing content and prioritizing activity to index well in Google should not go unnoticed. Although Google+ is almost a year old, brands embracing the network can still wear the early adopter title and reap the rewards for doing so. While the roar is certainly growing – many brands have yet to get their feet wet, leaving the door open for businesses and brands with well-defined strategies to push their messaging to the top of Google’s search results.
As a content sharing platform, Google+ is constantly feeding the Google search engine with data on the content’s engagement activity, which is having a direct influence on search results and SEO rankings. An important point to note is that Google+ content can rank even with Google’s search personalization turned off. In addition, the speed at which content from Google+ can be ranked is remarkable – at times just in a matter of minutes from when it was first posted.
Google+ and Google Search Plus Your World have helped us further define how we view the symbiotic relationship between content, search and social. Google+ itself is considered a social layer, with Google Search Plus Your World strengthening the relationship between search and social by adding in a social personalization layer to search.
The recommendation to immerse a brand into Google+ is brought forth under the theory that if the brand is creating engaging content that is relevant, it is a strategic “no-brainer” to bring this content to a platform where it can live longer and be found by those seeking it.
How to Optimize Content
In line with general best practices for social community management and public engagement, consistency and relevance are of greatest importance. Google’s index of Google+ content is well aligned with its crawl of any other type of content on the web- credible, relevant content is given preference.
There are five critical areas for optimizing a Google+ account with marketing implications in mind:
1. Utilize large, compelling and relevant images in your posts
Take full advantage of the size allowances for images for your Google+ posts. Images that are longer vertically will make your post take up more space in the search results page, pushing down other listings. Images that are larger horizontally fill more of the results page with color and are more eye-catching to searchers. Do both and you’ll maximize the amount of page real estate that your post occupies.
2. Create compelling content
Content. Content. Content. It’s the third component in the symbiotic relationship with search and social. Content is key to attracting a following and establishing a page. To create Google+ posts that attract attention, gain followers and rank in search, there are a few basic considerations:
- Survey your audience.
- Consider using it as you would a niche or brand blog. Google+ content can easily be shaped to focus on a specific topic or non-commodity term that fits the industry.
- Be relevant. For brands that have been in the social media scene for a while, it is very plausible that the brand has content that has been used on other platforms and owned properties. Consider hitting the “reuse” button for content and information that is still relevant and is potentially being sought out by people.
3. Optimize and Maximize the +1 button
Include a “site level” +1 button on your site, which should either target your homepage url, or your Google+ page url. In addition, include a content/post/product level +1 button that targets the URL of the page. Make sure it appears near the compelling content and within easy reach of the user’s mouse. Be sure to include these buttons on your multiple owned properties that host relevant content – it is impacting search ranking. Keep tabs on the type of content that garners the most +1s to inform future content strategy and ideas.
4. Confirm ownership of your site/account
Link your Google+ account to your blog/website and aim to get a Google+ badge for your website/blog. Once you receive the badge, submit a Google+ page verification request. Unfortunately, there is no steadfast rule for when a page can receive verification. Generally a page must obtain 1,000 people linking to it to be eligible for verification. More recognized brands have been able to receive verification with less than 1,000 people linking to their page. Confirming ownership of a site seems to influence search within Google+.
5. Confirm authorship / ownership
To increase your brand’s credibility as an authority in its space, acknowledge your brand as the creator of content and posts with authorship markup. Over the past few months, Google has introduced the rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” tags to webmasters as a way to connect your website or other owned properties with your Google+ profile in search results.
The added images that appear in the search results have been shown to increase click through rates of the articles. Below are some examples of what the new rel=”publisher” and rel=”author” tags look like in search results.
Marcus Taylor, writing for Social Media Explorer , explains the significance of the “rel=” tags as follows:
One of the most profound signals is that Google will be able to tell apart content written by people with a relevant community from those who don’t. If an author of a blog post on scuba diving has an online network with no one interested in scuba diving, Google might question whether that author is actually relevant to that topic. This means Google will be able to further drop the rankings of low quality content sites, and replace those rankings with websites written by people who genuinely participate in a community around the topic they write about. Using Google’s logic, that person is likely to be more knowledgeable. This means that Google will also be able to recognize content written by influencers who are highly respected in a certain niche and reward them with higher rankings.
To date, Google+ has not released full admin analytics. However, Google+ Ripples is incredibly insightful for analyzing ‘how’ the public posts migrate through the channel and share specific content. Ongoing analysis of this data will help a page understand its influencers and inform content strategy.
Additionally, to understand the direct impact that Google+ content is having on search and to inform strategy, we recommend performing weekly content positioning audits to research how Google+ content is ranking in comparison to the brand or company’s other content properties on its most prominent keywords, branded and non-branded. This tracking and measurement approach would be implemented when a company or brand is publishing content on multiple channels.
Please review the checklist below for steps to take when optimizing your branded page.
Google+ and the launch of Google Search Plus Your World have dramatically altered the face and strategy behind online content marketing. There are multiple avenues to explore and areas to optimize. Building out an audience and content is the fastest and easiest track to improved search rankings. By leveraging Google+ with the aforementioned considerations, a brand or person can in essence, communicate directly with Google better than ever before by making Google aware of their authority, relevance and quality content through its own social layer.
Image credit: Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net