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September 19, 2013

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Google+ SEO? Google Plus is a Space Station, Not a Gas Station!

Joshua Berg - 1:34 PM

Is Google+ The Most Powerful SEO Ever? The G+ Ranking Debate - Part 1


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1. Ye do err not knowing the power of Google Plus
2. What Are The Powers of Google+ SEO for Search Ranking?
3. Another "Study" and the Google+ SEO Debate Rages On

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For all the Google Plus SEO articles I've written, I think the wider principle of this hadn't totally clicked with me until this last discussion. I myself have tried many of the Google+ "tricks," tested this and that, or tried to isolate & understand more of the results. I'm one of those who came to Google Plus seeking "the power," not seeking people. I didn't know where the perceived ranking authority came from, or how to get it. All I knew is what most people figured, make lots of posts & get lots of followers, only to figure out later on it was neither of these. It wasn't till I finally understood that some of the most basic Google algorithms were at play here, that I started writing the now famous series PageRank in Google+.



Lately I've been asking, why are we still arguing about whether there's Google+ ranking power at all? We all know it works and we've been backwards & forwards over it every way to be imagined. Then a new experiment comes out & everyone's running for the exits. Well, if it's on the Internet it must be true, right?



1. Ye do err not knowing the power of Google Plus

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Here lies one of the biggest misunderstandings of the Google+ social media platform to enhance our Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or Social Media Optimization (SMO), it is just a platform and nothing more, it is a big empty shell. Google Plus does not have, nor give, authority of itself at all. Nevertheless it is an ingeniously crafted & unprecedentedly versatile social media platform, which when wielded properly has unlimited potential, for not only SEO, but also SMO, Internet marketing, content marketing, brand building, reputation building, reputation management, mass marketing and... anything else you want to make of it.




Google Plus does not have, nor give, authority of itself .



To relate that concept let me refer to the powerful Wikipedia. What was it that made Wikipedia the most successful knowledge base in history, collecting & organizing such vast quantities of knowledge where so many others had failed? It was the simple & versatile open source platform on which it was built called MediaWiki. From the beginning, it was just a platform, yet by itself did not at first contain any knowledge.


Prior to the invention of Wikis the majority of information management systems worked in a more singular manner, organizing content consecutively, such as forums, bulletins & some databases. The versatility of the Wiki's eventual design, allowed an unprecedented amount of people to work on & build in the same environment, in unlimited directions, yet in a uniform way. The real knowledge (is power) then came from the people & ultimately morphed into an unimaginably vast knowledge-base of man's collective minds.


To make that point clear, when you first setup your Google+ Profile, a new Page, a new Community, a new YouTube Channel, etc., the authority (power, link-juice, PageRank) you have is ZERO (technically there's an insignificant amount) and the first ranking authority to your profile will probably come from linking in your own website.


If you then get started sharing, or dumping links, but receive no significant engagement back (including from outside Google+), not only will you get absolutely no results, but you could conceivably give away so much link authority that you end up spinning your wheels endlessly trying to get it back, or even be better off starting over.


The shares you give in Google+, the links and the +Mentions you make, will then give no ranking authority at all. In fact, in some cases you are likely to see the opposite, where you're linked content progressively loses value due to the sheer number of worthless outbound links you've created. In this sense, I have seen some profiles, or communities turned worthlessly into what we used to call, Link Farms.


For more on this topic and an in-depth explanation of where you get authority in Google+, read my PageRank in G+ series.


Many of us who've used the Google+ platform for a while have seen the full potential, as well as strong affects on search ranking of our content. Yet, we still find ourselves arguing about whether it's in the "+1's," or the "hyperlink share," or the "hyperlink re-share," or the "comments," or the "+Mentions," or the "AuthorRank," etc? The real ranking power of Google+ is THE PEOPLE! If we haven't seen that by now, we might just be too close to the forest to see the trees.



The real ranking power of Google+ is THE PEOPLE!
Social Media Optimization for SEO. The Future of Search.



Studies that try very specifically to measure the exact search ranking value of a single aspect of Google+ are generally missing the big picture entirely. They impossibly attempt to isolate a single factor, while not understanding that the entire conduit of the Google+ platform is irrevocably entwined and the search engine algorithms are not fixed, but constantly in flux and working in many layers. But even if we could measure all of those things, there is still more than that, the power is the people.



Attempts to isolate & quantify singular ranking factors typically fail.



Google+ is not a place to fill up your blar with link juice and go home (blog+car). The many people who come to G+ thinking that way are invariably disappointed, because it just does not work like they think it does.


Google Plus is a space station, Not a gas station. And from this station we can launch missions untold to the furthest galaxies of the Interverse & bring back limitless power & authority.




The way I see it, the possibilities on Google+ right now are endless.



If we use all of the powerful tools Google has given us, coupled with some knowledgeable understanding, we will see that amazing things can happen. So let's talk about the specifics of Google+ so far. I decided to start with the list of first direct & secondly indirect search ranking benefits we can get from Google+.
After writing the list I ended up covering a lot more about Google+ above & the rest of the debate is going to be covered in a part 2 of this article.




Google Plus is a space station to the entire Interverse.



2. What Are The Powers of Google+ SEO for Search Ranking?

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① Google Authorship is probably the biggest specific value of Google+ for SEO. It is the glue that pulls your content together from across the Internet into one singular identifiable author. Without Authorship provided through the Google+ platform, the rest of these would hardly be possible. For an anecdotal story on the significance of this relationship, see my  Authorship & Google+ is a royal romance, the marriage of Search & Social Media.



Your Author Rank of authority that's verifiable. Your Google+ Profile is designed to be your ultimate verified self online and more importantly, it is a flexible conduit, to where & from where, your collective authority also flows. Google is believed to have a lot more in store for your virtual personality online & is working to understand more about your expertise & influence.



Links on your Profile's About page Links section. Of all the G+ links, these are likely to pass the highest authority & the most stable PR. The About page has it's own PageRank & these links not only flow PageRank (divided by the number of links there), but most importantly, may contain a keyword (don't stuff) title of your choosing. Unlike the Contributor-to section, these do not claim Authorship & can be used for any link you would like to share, on or off, Google+.


Links on your Business' About page Links section. Same as above, they flow PR, pass the most stable authority & may include a keyword (don't stuff) rich hyperlinked title.


Links from your Photos page, or YouTube page (only if set to public), although the YouTube channel links back, so this could be negligible.


Links on your +1 page to external websites (while the +1 itself is not a direct ranking factor, this page MAY provide limited authority to websites under certain conditions. Namely: it would have to be set Public for indexing, but then the authority available to be passed would also be diluted by the sheer quantity of links there). While I have long said +1's give no direct ranking benefit in Google Search, they do give that post ranking benefit within Google+ by helping a post to get up to What's Hot. That in turn may provide a strong indirect benefit, because a lot more people will see that content & then share it with others.


Hyperlinks in posts, contrary to some recent discussion I will explain why these have plenty of affect on search ranking. However the PageRank passed in a profile stream, is not the same as you would expect on a traditional website. This is where many have gone wrong with tests & the confusing signals given.


Hyperlinks in posts in Communities, based on the PageRank of that particular subtopic. I have previously explained how communities are actually divided into individual streams of the topics, each of these having individual levels of authority. It has frequently been observed that a lower authority Profile's post in a high authority community, will typically outrank the lower authority's post in his own stream. In my opinion, this is due to sharing authority between the community stream & the poster. Note: in most cases dropping your links in community posts is considered spamming, unless the quality, procedure & community guidelines are adhered to.


Reviews may provide ranking benefit to the page, or locality reviewed. Does this happen through the follow link address on the page (if public), or is there likely another factor, since reviews may also be negative. Unknown? It behooves us to assume however that there are specific Places algorithms that operate on top of others
Regardless of this, positive reviews will undoubtedly have a positive affect on click through behavior by the inquirer.


+Mentions to your Business Page act as a type of citation throughout the Google+ platform, which when cited by authority profiles, or pages, will show up as backlinks to the single verified website attached. A while ago when Google made the regular links in posts "nofollow," these +mentions (aka. Tags) remained follow & continued to show up as backlinks in Webmaster Tools.


+Mentions to a Local Page connected to a verified website address, behave the same.


+Mentions to a Profile behave the same way, are "follow" links directly to your profile from wherever they are used, although we cannot see these specifically as backlinks to Profiles in any Google Tools, because there are none that show these. There is strong evidence for this fact in that there are a few individuals in Google+ who have attained even higher PageRank profiles (ie. PR 6) than anyone else, having few if any external links from websites to their Profiles.


Personalized Search Results are a powerful tool & for many users (depending on your follower count vs. authority) this may be the biggest advantage of all. This in itself is too big a topic to cover here, but its significance is not to be underestimated.



Persons with rank authority, who own authoritative high PR blogs & websites throughout the Internet in the "good neighborhoods," make up a larger percentage of Google+ individuals than any other social media platform. These are the people learned in the gospel of Google, they've worked hard to build quality links to their content & disavow the bad link neighborhoods. Getting to know & engaging a handful of these people personally & passing your message on to them, where they can cite your quality content, I'll wager on average is worth hundreds of others elsewhere. These are the people who upon finding your content to be of value, will end up linking back to it from these high quality sites.


⑮ Influencers & leaders of knowledge are in good supply on Google+, whatever your field you have an unprecedented opportunity to hobnob with the rich & powerful on this score. Just as importantly, you also have the opportunity to become one. Finding these influencers & leaders in your field of expertise, may give you an opportunity to reach thousands, even millions more. And let me say on this, now is the time. Finding out one day that your neighborhood pool guy & business competitor, now has the ear of 10,000 people & a massive weekly audience in Hangouts, while you're still trying to figure out how to setup your business page, would be a sad story indeed.



Google Apps used on the Google+ platform, or just connected to, provide a whole other layer of search ranking benefits by those that know how to use them and that we cannot even begin to cover here. But for one example though, the "isolated" study discussed below, ultimately failed to be isolated, because of the unknown number of Google Apps reading & spreading content from off the platform.


YouTube videos, Hangouts, Events, Blogger and many other connected Google platforms provide numerous types of ways to get your message out as well as direct and/or indirect ranking benefits.


And this list could keep going, but we'll end it here for now.




3. Another "Study" and the Google+ SEO Debate Rages On

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I actually started this article to address a current debate on the power of Google+ SEO, related to a critically flawed but well spread study recently released. For the few of you who might be a little rusty on your Latin, the image phrase Quod Erat Demonstrandum, (that which was to be proved), is sometimes used to show the end of an argument, which was not in fact successfully demonstrated.



So how many of just the above benefits I've mentioned do you think this bold title "Study Shows No Clear Evidence That Google+ Drives Ranking" is referring to? 10 of them, 5 of them, 2 of them? Nope, nope, nope. Just one, and that would be # Hyperlinks in posts. But in fact, it did not prove that either.



I was in fact invited to view the study results during it & wrote a list of its critical problems, including a set of suggestions on a more real to life study & the errors omitted, but ultimately the study was released & some of the errors were covered only as amendments towards the end. Releasing a study with sensational headlines does have advantages though, the flurry of anticipated rebuttal articles & debate that follows provide an enviable amount of publicity. Not to mention the priceless value of your competitors finding them.




That debate is this afternoon & you are invited to get the juicy details:



Don't let me forget to mention here that +Eric Enge who did the study & authored the 2 articles, actually did a very studious analysis. He is also brilliant on the topic of SEO, I write about & will continue to write about his many amazing insights. I don't think any of us SEO speculators get it right ALL the time, but Eric is certainly righter than most.



It actually wasn't till near the end that the critical problems became apparent & because of that we also learned some very important, but not yet disclosed things about Google+ posts being indexed in Search. Understanding these errors  ultimately provides us far more value than the experiment which they made worthless.



One funny this is, in the article titled Study Shows No Clear Evidence That Google+ Drives Ranking, our author ironically proved what I feel is the greatest power of Google+ for SEO's over all. # Persons with rank authority, who own authoritative high PR websites throughout the Internet in the "good neighborhoods," make up a larger percentage of Google+ individuals than any other social media platform. These are the people who upon finding your content to be of value, will end up linking back to it from these high quality sites.



So please join us for the debate and bring your pirate gear, it's Pirates Day,




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