The following article is Part 1 in a two part series exploring the optimization strategies for branded pages on Google+. Part 2 will analyze the implications Google+ brings when it comes to brand visibility.
Google’s getting to know you better. Rolling out a slew of social-focused capabilities over the past year, the launch of Search Plus Your World, an indexing of Facebook comments and the growing rumble surrounding Google+, Google has made its desire to find deeper roots in social well-known.
Not surprising, Google appears to be somewhat favoring its own network, Google+, in newly personalized as well as general search results. While Google+ does not quite have the adoption of Facebook, it is rapidly growing (170 MM users, up 174% since December 2011). More important than that for brands right now, however, are the huge implications with Google+ from a search rankings perspective. The opportunity that brands have with Google+, especially in the short term, to capture passionate and influential audiences through increased visibility in Google’s search results, can’t be overstated.
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 four critical areas for optimizing a Google+ account, branded or otherwise, for Search:
1. Optimize your Google+ profile
Keep your profile name simple. Avoid the temptation to do any keyword stuffing in your profile name because it will appear with all of your posts. For your profile image, use a good quality version of your logo that fills as much of white space given as possible. Additionally, be sure to optimize the use of the five images at the top of your profile. Get creative with image content to encourage people to engage with your page. You could use five standalone photos, create a panoramic photo board, or even upload animated gifs.
When describing your business in the About section of your profile, be sure to use target keywords based on keyword research. Taking the time to do keyword research will help provide an informed optimization strategy for your profile. Simply put, if you want to be found, use keywords that will help people find you. Be sure to state keywords exactly how they appear in keyword research, even if they are not grammatically correct, to ensure that your content is reaching the greatest number of people. This includes the short, one-line description called your Tagline. The Tagline is essentially the page’s meta description and appears in the search results with your listing. It also appears in the Google+ feed when users hover over the brand name.
Internal linking within the About section is another important factor in building out an optimized profile. The Recommended Links section is the perfect area to link to your owned web properties including other social platforms and your company site. Make sure that you only include relevant links, so as not to send mixed signals to Google about the content of your page.
2. Optimizing your Circles
Creating Circles around target keywords is especially effective for driving search rankings. When creating new Circles, make sure to properly promote the Circles once they go live. As a general rule, you should publicly announce any new Circles when they are created. Again, use target keywords in all promotions to increase search rankings.
The Circle membership of those who put you in their Circles is incredibly important as well. Simply put – by capturing the attention of users with high authority, a brand can build equity and catapult engagement on their own pages. As a rule of thumb, seek to secure relationships with users of high authority and influence to build equity. Comment on, share, and interact with content on these pages to capture their followers. The more high-quality people in the brand’s Circle that link back to the profile, the better. Focus on producing engaging content as a way to grab the attention of Google+ users because a brand cannot add someone to a Circle unless that person has added the brand to their own first.
3. 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:
– Continue to develop fresh content. Inactivity will lead to a drop off in search rank, despite quality content and high Circle membership. Don’t let more than 72 hours pass between posts. Creating a content schedule is helpful.
– Share engaging videos and photos.
– Post frequently. Studies have shown that even pages generating fewer +1′s per post, reshares, replies or Circle membership can find their way into the organic rankings by posting frequently, (observed in research as about three to four times as often as competitors). Brands assuming this strategy must proceed with caution, however, as Google will still look for quality and penalize content considered spam. Post as often as possible, but maintain quality.
– Avoid trademark use when possible. Google does not read trademarks or other intellectual property symbols. In fact, using unknown symbols can push your page lower in the search rankings.
4. Share compelling content
Fostering engagement on posts is important and can aide in expanding your Circles and influence, but the end goal should be capturing +1s to influence SEO.
Find more information with step by step instructions on optimization throughout your Google+ account in the presentation below.
Website analytics data can be utilized to show how content is being shared across multiple channels and where that content is driving traffic to your website. For example, should you share a full blog entry on your website, and then on Google+, at this point, if the content is “shareworthy,” it will most likely be shared across Facebook and Twitter as well. The website analytics will provide clear indicators of which channels are driving the most traffic to your website, but cross-analyzing this with Facebook Analytics and Google+ Ripples, will help a brand better understand the true viral nature of the post / content.
Finally, something to consider is an audit of the brand’s current content and strategies on websites and other social media platforms. As we’ve seen, Google Search Plus Your World aims to direct Google search results to relevant content on Google+ when possible. In fact, when the same content is posted both on Google+ and on a company’s blog, the Google+ data has been known to rank higher in organic search due to the +1s and engagement the content has garnered in the past. Transferring website / blog content to Google+ could be an easy strategic move to optimize content and your Google+ profile.
Ongoing innovation and the launch of the Search Plus Your World personalization continues Google on a path towards better enabling the searcher to find relevant and useful information. Participating in Google+ vastly increases the opportunity for your page to appear in relevant search results. A brand’s active participation in Google+ and optimizing its profile and content is today’s best recommendation.
*PepsiCo is an Edelman client.
Image credit: west.m