If you are not a search marketing person, then you probably haven’t noticed, despite some considerable efforts from Google, but Google is pushing Google plus, a new social network aimed somewhere between the Facebook and Twitter market. At the same time, they are also moving away from a set of ten blue links as the search results for a given phrase and ever closer to a set of individual and customised search results for every user that they like to call Search, plus My World.
What exactly is My World
Well, Google is trying to give you a complete social experience, but within the browser environment. The goal here is that your search results can be customised in accordance with things that you like (well, +1, like was taken) and things that your connections also like and vice versa. A big part of this is Google’s very own Like button which they are calling +1 (whilst secretly really wishing they had got to Like first).
Plus What Now?
So, the million dollar question: how does this effect you as a business owner looking to do better in search? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to find out over the course of several experiments that we will conduct to see how Google plus and the plus 1 button can be used to generate increased exposure in search.
First up, we are going to look at how getting +1’s from individual users can affect your visibility, for those users in the Search Engine results. We will also move on to see how +1’s affect the whole site’s visibility and likewise how things that other users you are connected with have +1’d are promoted in your search results. We will even look at how individual authors are promoted further through the use of the much vaunted Author Rank.
One thing is for sure, search is changing, and you can move with this shift and benefit or get left in the cold so, are you ready to start some google plus SEO experimentation?
Google Plus SEO Test 1 – Results on Visibility of a +1’d page
First up, we want to see what, if any benefits exist for users seeking to generate +1’s for their content and we will test this as follows:
- select three search queries
- determine results for these searches
- assess change in results after applying a +1
Search Query: the skinny fruit
Logged in: 5th
After +1: 3rd
Improvement: improved 2 places
Search Query: britains best walks
Logged in: 7th
After +1: 7th
Search Query: hot dog sausages
Logged in: 7th
After +1: 6th
Hmm, so, a small improvement on some phrases, but no movement on others. So, I wondered how much it would effect say a local business for a very specific search phrase. So, I Googled about a bit and searching for car washes seemed perfect as it was showing a seven pack of local results, some directories like qype, yelp, 192 etc and not much in the way of actual small businesses but there was one or two. So, I then picked one with a relevant page title who was in position 8 for the search term: ‘car wash birmingham’. This then took the +1 page from 8th to 3rd in my results so not a huge jump but certainly a hell of a lot of easy movement when compared to conventional optimisation to hop five places.
Well, clearly, getting a +1 on a page is not a bad thing and it will increase visibility of that page for the signed in user. I suspect it is not cut and dry and the impact of the +1 is in part down to the relevance of the landing page against the search query (much like the quality score in adwords) and where results are weak, like in the car wash example above, then you get a bigger bump.
So, it’s certainly a good thing and for the car wash company, getting a five place bump through SEO would be a damn site harder than getting someone to push a +1 button.
Next, we will look at if the benefit of getting plus ones scales. So, if a page with no existing plus ones jumps 3 places after I plus one it. Does that jump get bigger if several other users have plus one’d it? This will compound what we know from above but will also give us additional incentive to really push for those pluses!
I will get that post up next Monday and if you have any questions in the meanwhile, give me a shout!