Confirmed: Google+ Is Critical To Your Search Rankings

Testing Social Signals

Testing Social Signals

What makes for good SEO?

With Google maturing and adapting its algorithm on a regular basis it can be difficult to be sure what really does have an impact when it comes to search engine optimisation.

There are some factors we know for certain. Content is a critical component of effective SEO, and not just any content; it must be original, regularly updated and well written.

Some of this is for Google’s direct benefit and some, like well written content, because it attracts links which Google then uses as an indicator of importance in its algorithm.

A good headline title containing key phrases are almost certainly a factor and formatting text with the correct html heading, bold and italics tags can assist.

Keywords A Thing Of The Past

We also know that meta-keywords, hangovers from SEO in the early years, play no discernible role in modern search engine optimisation. The meta-description may be used to display in the search results, and in fact Google is using good meta-descriptions more now than it has in the past. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, confirms these facts in the short video below.

There is also lots of discussion around the impact of Social Media on search engine rankings. With Google+ developing rapidly it would only make sense that activity on this platform, related to your website, would have an effect on your rankings. In a bid to determine whether Social Media was impacting rankings TastyPlacement Inc. conducted the following experiment.

Social Media, The Future Of SEO

Setting up 6 similar websites based in 6 US cities they left them to settle in for 10 months then began their experiment. Promoting 5 of the websites with a different social platform, using the 6th as a control site, they measured the results.

Probably no surprise, but the website promoted using Google+ saw the biggest increase in organic search rankings.

Does your SEO strategy embrace Social Media and Google+ in particular?

The full results are shown in the infographic below:

About Sean Clark

With over 14 years' experience of building successful online companies, we help you market your business online. Whether you need help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC) or Social Media Marketing call us today on 01379 330330 for a free initial consultation.

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  • GCrashPDX

    Sean – thanks for finding and providing the data.

  • http://www.averagejoesblog.com Average Joes

    I don’t think we should quite all ignore everyone else just yet.

    Let’s remember, these tests are from a very small cross section of websites / data, and this is an SEO company who provide the details.

    You know, those people who want to sell SEO services…

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    Stuart, 

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I’m not advocating we should ignore anything, unless you count the reference to keywords, but then Matt Cutts states clearly that Google don’t recognise them as a factor in the video.

    What I am advocating is that we “shouldn’t” ignore, and should at least be aware of, the impact of Google+.

    Businesses continue to struggle to allocate it a place in their online strategy, what this, admittedly small, test demonstrates is that it can impact your search rankings.You still need to do the other good stuff, Google+ alone is not the answer. But if you are in a competitive niche it may well give you an edge against the competition.

    Google are using social for search indicators and have been for some time http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html

    As with all SEO advise, nothing is absolute, there are many contributing factors, awareness of them is key. The need to use them will be dependant on your specific circumstances.

    Sean

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    You’re welcome

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    The Twitter results may suggest that Google is intentionally downplaying human voices and organic opinion from social and citizen media. That’s a good thing, right? [grin]

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  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @faryna:disqus I am not sure it’s downplaying them, just that Twitter is a fairly open platform and it doesn’t take much effort to share a link.
    Because of this the value of sharing is less, whereas adding a link from a Google+ Business page takes a lot of effort to acquire and it’s likely the resulting page is quite valuable, in context.Of course, Google has access to a lot more identifiers to help it make decisions on its own platform!

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    I would like to think that the ease of sharing on Twitter is a superior social mechanism. Google+’s failure to make social games playable is another example of the inadequacy of the platform. Thus, I am led to the hasty conclusion that Google +’s failure to deliver a truly social platform is reflected in the general lack of preference and use of it. 

    Google may hope to make it’s inadequate social platform relevant through integration with its search, but contrivances rarely play out for the best.

    Anyway, I enjoyed thinking this through with you. Thanks, Sean. Looking forward to more.

  • http://twitter.com/Will_OpenDoorSM Will Berend

    Sean – nice post. I enjoyed all of the info. 

    Here is my trouble with all of this. Google+ is not promoting “social” media. It’s promoting businesses to post data to get better search results and not to engage and interact which is how some businesses have become so successful on Twitter and Facebook, for example. So this leads me to the same issues as always and that is the average consumer will not be going to Google+ because their friends and family are not there. Where I think G+ will do well is in the B2B arena. Of course, that is what we’re lacking – a strong social media app for the B2B world.

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @twitter-270727760:disqus You’re right and it’s probably why Facebook does so well, businesses struggle to “game” it as it requires real interaction rather than just sharing and links. That said Google has always based it’s results on links and seen off every contender in search. 

    It’s definitely not over yet and as the channels mature I am sure we’ll see plenty more adjustments.

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  • spectrumweb

    I don’t think that it is fair what Google is doing. They are forcing people into their social network. The penalty for not joining and participating is worse rankings. Ultimately it will create worse search results I think. I already don’t like the personal search results most of the time I find that they have no relevance to what I am searching for. Not to mention that fabricating plus ones is a lot easier than producing content and spreading around the web with backlinks. Even if it is bad content. Just go to fiverr and type Google+. I feel like this system is ripe for abuse. Even more so than the current state of SEO.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andreas-Grimm/100002298316546 Andreas Grimm

    Great study, thank you. It isn’t a surprise that G+ and sharing has the highest postive impact.   

    Infographics seems to do well for collecting votes and shares. Good job

  • Kurt

    Until something else comes along, we better follow lockstep

  • http://twitter.com/adrianoarwin Arwin Adriano

    Informative study though I really hate this move by Google and it was really an obvious move that they are using web marketers to promote their social network in a probable change of search rankings.

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  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @twitter-272391928:disqus Yes, an inevitable step by Google, I’m sure their application of the analytics will mature over time.

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @f38009767fcb4a8a7a3ce66d336ba0e8:disqus Agreed!

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @facebook-100002298316546:disqus Thanks and yes, I’m sure there will be a study on the impact of infographics shortly;)

  • http://seanclark.com/ Sean Clark

    @spectrumweb:disqus I am certain that if users don’t react positively to Google’s implementation of Social Search they adapt it or drop it, they will be continually analysing and evolving.

    The same as with Black Hat SEO techniques and content farms, the type of activity you highlight on Fiverr is unlikely to stand the test of time.

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  • http://www.succinctideas.com.au/ SEO Adelaide

    Google Search Plus Your World has been one of the recent innovations made by Google in its search algorithm and Google Plus has a big impact on this innovation. I noticed this in my Google Profile because even those search results which used to be at the bottom of SERP can appear first page if I’ve visited them before. 

  • http://www.bestappspoint.com/ Dolly

    There is no doubt that some of the effect on SEO can be caused with social media but overall we are unable to plan any business due to sudden changes in google. 

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