We knew this would happen. Google is now indexing and ranking Google+ content higher. This makes sense, and it’s the reason Google has been on a “quality” push for months. With the Panda update Google “took out the trash”. With “Ripples” Google helps users understand how and why their content is shared. The “+” button is rapidly becoming a strong signal for quality and “we” are being “trained” to use it.
The only real equivalent to what Google is doing is LinkedIN. I see it this way – on Twitter, we socialize and freely share. For most of us a Tweet lasts 3-5 minutes in the stream. Twitter has a place in the community. On LinkedIN, we share the “best” stuff, most likely to be of interest to our “business” network. At the moment, nothing is more powerful than your content being shared on LinkedIN. I often meet people who still don’t know about one of the most powerful tools on the Web: LinkedIN’s Status Update search. Did you know, you can easily search all mentions of your brand, your content or your keywords. I use this tool to build a profile of the people that are sharing our content. I can see their job titles, company name, company size, company location and much more. (Yes, you can see people outside your network!) Nothing is more helpful today to gather this insight. Best of all it’s free and anyone can do it. Here is a screenshot that shows you a search I did recently for Yottaa.
So what does a content marketer do to leverage the growing importance of Google+? First, don’t wait for “Business Google+ Pages and Accounts.” Waiting will only delay your success in the new era of “Fresh” Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Encourage your key employees to get a Google+ profile and account. Teach them how to leverage Google+ to follow and share their passions. Teach them how to add their other profiles and develop interesting profiles. Encourage them to start reading and sharing content from your industry’s media, thought leaders and beyond. Help them build and share circles of industry leaders and media. (Don’t forget to teach them best practices for sharing and using the social Web, nothing is worse than an employee shouting a sales message). When you are ready, roll out a program to help employees share company content on Google+. Likewise, encourage them to “+1″ and comment on references to your brand, where appropriate. One of the best tools for this in the Twitter world is GaggleAMP, if you have not checked them out you should. I have not found a similar tool to GaggleAMP for Google+, however I am sure one is coming and GaggleAMP may well add Google+ in the future.
Finally, why go through all the effort to leverage Google+? First, it’s about the SERPs, SEO is not dead, it’s just become social! The SERPs are now full of content that has been successfully shared across networks, and increasingly that means Google+. Let’s look at a SERP for the search Web Performance Optimization. It’s important to note that in example one, I am logged into Google, so my results are highly influenced by my social network and activity. Example two, I have a clean browser, with no cookies and history and I am not logged into Google.
As you can see when logged into Google, my results are different, and influenced by my social network. It’s clear to me that as Google expands its reach, gains more users of Gmail, Google Apps and Google+, there will be more “logged in” users. SERPs that have socially influenced results will not only rank higher, but are more visually appealing. Plus, with over 90% of buyers considering recommendations before making a purchase decision, having the validation of others in their social circle sharing or clicking a “+1″ for content, will drive click-thrus and conversions.
What about you? Have you rolled out a plan to help your team have fun on social networks, while providing some value back to your marketing efforts?