Leveraging Google+ Social Interactions For Radical Organic SERP Impact: Insight From #SMX

Welcome to AIMCLEAR‘s coverage of #SMX West 2013!  After a rousing morning keynote with Danny Sullivan and Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Grady Burnett, attendees continuing on the Social Media Marketing track geared up for a guided tour through Google+, brimming with tips and best practices for making the most of this dynamic social space.

Moderator Monica Wright, Social Media Editor, Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, assembled together the panel speakers Adam Audette, President, RKG, Todd Hartley, CEO, WireBuzz, and Mark Traphagen, Director of Digital Outreach, Virante Inc. and each took his turn sharing advice for boosting engagement and optimizing participation in Google+ for the benefit of your brand.  AIMCLEAR live-tweeted the spirited chit-chat via @beebow. Read on for the juiciest takeaways.

First up was Adam, who gave a succinct yet informative run-through the story of Google+ (in charming fairytale format!).

The Story of Google+
A long, long time ago, in an Internet far away, there was a thing called Yahoo Directory. It was amazing! For a small web. But it didn’t really scale for a big web. Then, Google came along! Google became this bountiful land, founders were very pleased and fruitful!

But then! An evil wizard appeared in the land with his dark magic book of SEO and he spewed thin (sh*tty) content everywhere, and the Google was mad.

So Google unleashed the PANDA! Panda tore all the thin content sites down. But there was still another problem… the SEO wizard was manipulating the link graph, spamming it up and down. So Google unleashed the PENGUIN to destroy those crummy link farms, too!

Panda & Penguin were the 1-2 punch that crushed crappy SEO and paid spam. But there was still a problem. Another wizard began frolicking around the land… his name was Mark. Zuckerberg. Dun dun dunnnnn! How could Google combat the wizard known as Mark (i.e. Facebook)?

It had to get social.

Forming partnerships with Facebook and Twitter was one thought. Integrating their data into Google’s index might work, but Google wanted to own ALL the data – and partnerships with FB and Twitter meant they would have a slice of the pie, too. No dice!

So what was the answer? Google+.

SEO & Social In Relation To G+
Public reaction to G+ was initially, “Meh.” That said, the userbase of Google+ has been growing, and continues to do so (according to Adam). Things like its direct impact on SEO and the concept of rel=author make it really powerful, perhaps moreso than FB. Yes, content publishers love G+ because it offers ownership and authorship, which speaks to their rankings. So it stands to reason that G+ is more important in terms of SEO than social. But… G+’s crucial impact on SEO is directly related to relevance, influence, and the size of one’s community. These are all social factors. SO… while G+ is more about SEO than social, SEO is directly affected by how social you are with G+. Are ya diggin’ this?

Interesting sort-of-drawbacks worth considering:

  • Building your G+ followers comes at a price: you have more searchers who are signed in so KW [not provided] is on the rise.
  • Also, we’re seeing more brand cannibalization with G+, because sometimes people click on the big beautiful right sidebar G+ content rather than brand site. They get there eventually, but there’s a new layer of fog between search and ultimate destination.
  • In terms of average share of social visits, Facebook dominates it. And G+ is wayyyy far in last place. So it’s not a good traffic source.

If it’s not a traffic source, what is it?

Google+ is a portent of what’s coming. It’s the future of everything Google is planning to do. -Adam Audette

Adam wrapped up with a provocative mini-Q&A.

Q: How many of your customers are on G+?

Not many hands went up at all.

Q: How many of your customers are on Google?

Everyone’s hands went up.


 Google is Google+. Google+ is Google. You better be involved in both.

Adam wrapped up and handed the mic over to Mark, who  shared tips for building influence on G+.

The Undeniable Impact of G+ Socialization on SERPs
Mark began by sharing a brief story of a woman searching for the following query: “google authorship quora.” A post Mark had written and shared on G+ was the second result, accompanied by a little bubble featuring his headshot. She clicked the link and was so impressed with the value of the resource, she reached out to thank Mark.

Straight up: The only reason Mark’s post was in her SERPs (at such a high position, no less) was because they were connected by a circle in G+.

“We’re talking about reach,” Mark pointed out. “This is why G+ is so powerful.” It extends your reach far beyond the social network itself, into the SERPs. With G+, you’re influencing all of the people who follow you, and everyone connected to their circles as well.

Total SERP Saturation
Around the time one of Mark’s clients was launching a backlink removal tool, they pushed out a healthy amount of topical content via G+. A timely search for that very query, “backlink removal tool,” showed they completely dominated page 1 wth all those G+ goodies. That hold on pg 1 didn’t last forever, but it was still pretty amazing.

Speaking of longevity, Mark pointed out that in some scenarios, G+ posts actually do maintain their freshness, so to speak, for quite a long time. One particular post he shared on G+ ranked for its target query on p1 for over a year!

Another fascinating concept about G+ activity: “As you continue to make connections on G+, it’s building new pathways within Google that didn’t exist before.” Don’t you feel important! 🙂

Tips For Supremely Effective Engagement on G+
Did you know: Pages on G+ can act just like people (unlike on Facebook). Pages can follow anyone, and interact with anyone in public conversations. Here are some of Mark’s tips for best harnessing the social power of G+ either on behalf of a brand or as yourself.

You’ll notice many of the tips can be mapped to many other leading social channels. They’re chiefly best practices for friendly, powerful social engagement – tips to help you avoid being a spammy self-promotional twerp, but rather, a thoughtful and data-driven community manager:

  • Use the powerful search within G+ to find conversations. Then, contribute to them.
  • Once you find authoritative people, use tools to evaluate that authority. Cross-check authority with http://bit.ly/13RqqaC
  • Find communities (launched 12/6/12) also using G+ search. Find friends in your vertical, and build influence.
  • Create communities of your own for influence and branding!
    • Fun fact: Communities can rank in search! (even when you’re logged out!) @marktraphagen
  • Watch the mentions. When you find influential people, take notice of who they are +mentioning. Consider following them, too.
  • +mention people in your own posts (within reason) to get on the radar of influential people and brands.

Is your appetite whetted? (Is that even a word?) Onto some slightly more advanced tips.

  • Login to your circles and sort by relevance (people who engage with you the most) – take note of people who engage with you– are they already on your radar? If not, reach out.
  • Play around with Ripples! This very cool feature is a data visualization of public shares of your post. Note who’s sharing what. Same as above, see who’s sharing your stuff – are they on your radar? Reach out.
  • Create influencers and “stalking” circles. Populate with people you want to engage.
  • Have a detailed profile. Goes without saying, but sometimes can be overlooked! Google uses your profile’s KWs in how they rank and think of you topically.
  • Google authorship. Link up your profiles and publications. Make it count!

Last but not least, Todd, who shared some case studies and tips for branding success.

Todd noted that personally, he thinks Google’s maturation process has been lovely – like watching a family member grow. Like Adam, Todd sees Google+ as Google’s crystal ball – the future of Google. Todd also sees G+ as the eHarmony that makes love connections between clients and their potential customers. To that end, Todd wants to supply content into Google and G+ that the target audience is demanding.

Why Video (and Hangouts!) Rocks For G+

  • Generally speaking, video is 53 times more likely to appear on pg 1 of SERPs than other types of content.
  • Video doubles average time on page.
  • Video is the king of content because it can be repurposed in several different ways.
  • Q: How do you know if you can trust someone without meeting them? A: Reputation & relevance – Todd aims to achieve this by building video content.
  • The majority of the video content Todd does is actually… G+ Hangouts!
  • G+ Hangouts create natural, organic content that, yep, can be repurposed.

Tips For Effective G+ Hangout Prep & Execution

  • Build an editorial cal for G+ hangouts, just as you would schedule blog posts on an ed. cal.
  • From there, go out and develop relationships with influental players, just as you would with traditional PR. breast cancer
  • Build linking relationships with “the cool kids,” as Google sees them – that is to say, .edu sites, .gov sites – trusted sources
  • Regarding live audience viewing of your hangouts, expect the numbers to be low. Don’t get discouraged!

Slicing & Dicing Videos For Maximum Exposure

  • Be highly strategic in how you re-purpose the live event video.
  • On average, people watch 3.5 minutes of a video.
  • Got a long hangout? Cut it up. One hour worth of content can be split into 15-18 fantastic clips.
  • Use helpful tools like the “FastestTube” browser plugin.
  • Brand those suckers! Each video Todd makes usually has an Open page, question page, video clip, and a final CTA.
  • Post to your website immediately so Google can begin to index.
  • Then, post to YouTube so you can pull into G+ for users to watch on-page, rather than click a thumbnail and be taken elsewhere.
  • Then, strategically post to other social assets with regular pace as you’d post any other content. Newsworthy items you may want to post faster. Non-newsworthy items you can perhaps space out a bit.
  • When sharing videos on G+, tag them up with popular (relevant) hashtags to they can be discovered by large groups of people interested in your topics.

Final Takeaways from Todd…

  • G+ gives Google indicators of your relevance, which impacts SERPs, which impacts visibility!
  • Within SERPs, info tied to verified profiles will rank higher. The true cost of anonymity might be irrelevance.

And that’s all she wrote! Thanks to our fabulous panel and lovely moderator for a killer session on this fascinating social platform and its impact on SERPs. Stick around AIMCLEAR Blog for more coverage straight from the convention center, and of course, follow along with yours truly @beebow for continued live tweets!

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