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Google Plus SEO Experiment

Google Plus LogoIf 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
To clarify, this is the change made for the currently signed in user and compared against another user and an incognito (not signed in) browser.

1.
Search Query:
the skinny fruit
URL: www.everydaypaleo.com
Incognito: 5th
Logged in: 5th
After +1: 3rd
Improvement: improved 2 places

2.
Search Query: britains best walks
URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2007/may/02/top10.walkingholidays
Incognito: 7th
Logged in: 7th
After +1: 7th
Improvement: 0

3.
Search Query: hot dog sausages
URL: http://www.bigapplehotdogs.com/
Incognito: 7th
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.

Results?

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 Up

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!

Marcus Miller

I am an SEO Consultant based in Birmingham UK and with clients all over the world. I have been working in and around search for 15 years and currently focus on SEO Consulting, Website Consulting, Local SEO and Technical SEO Audits.

Comments (9)

  • comment_avatar

    Ian @ Orlando Visiting

    |

    Hi Marcus. I’ve been playing around with Google+ but don’t have anything concrete to share at the moment TBH. Wondering when part two was coming along?

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • comment_avatar

      Marcus Miller

      |

      Hey, I have several other parts of this experiment that I am playing with behind the scenes, they are coming, just been a bit tied up, i’ll have the next one out by close of play tomorrow though. Should have some fairly solid action points by the end of it all for you to use to make Google Plus work for you and help you get more search traffic and referrals.

      Reply

  • comment_avatar

    Ricky Shah

    |

    Maybe Google+ votes is not as significant as we have thought it to be. On the other hand twitter votes (RTs) do have some effect on improvement in SERP.

    I would love to see more experiements on Google+, It would be great if you can come to some solid conclusion.

    Reply

    • comment_avatar

      Marcus Miller

      |

      Hey Ricky,

      It’s pretty well established that there is little impact from +1 in the serps at the moment. The only time you see a real impact is in personalised results but there are a lot of other ways that Google+ can be useful. I have a bunch of other notes but just been real busy of late, I will endevour to get all my findings up in the next few weeks and drop you a mail when I do.

      Cheers
      Marcus

      Reply

  • comment_avatar

    Only seo

    |

    We’re the results any different after you logged out and cleared your cache? I dn’t see the point in changing results for yourself, you +1 because you want to promote the site not because you wanted to revisit it. I have seen sites appearing in the SERPS and you can tell they are just other seo’s clients. Seo’s are the only people that use g+ and we still can’t speak to the gurus because they never reply, they just talk to themselves.

    Reply

    • comment_avatar

      Marcus Miller

      |

      Hey Brennan, we have a lab here so we test things like this across multiple machines. What we are seeing is a small increase in positioning for pages that you have previously given +1. So, +1, whilst not having an external index, is still useful in raising visibility of a previously visited site or page on a site for that given user.

      Reply

  • comment_avatar

    Kangarew

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    Outstanding write up…did you follow up with the other post, Marcus? I just saw that you had been busy. Good study, though.

    Reply

    • comment_avatar

      Marcus Miller

      |

      Hey, I have the bones of several other tests, i just need to get the time to write them up, I will get them done soon though and will ping you an email when I have them up.

      Reply

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