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January 16, 2014

Google Plus Authority is Powered by People - G+ SEO 2014 ①

Unknown - 5:02 AM

How Google+ SEO works from engagement with real people.

1. What are the powers of Google+ SEO for ranking in Search?
2. The power of engagement on Google+ for Social SEO.
3. What does Google+ PageRank authority have to do with SEO?

To introduce this 2014 G+ SEO series I will answer an important question I think many people and businesses came go Google+ with. Where does the power of Google Plus SEO comes from?

It is not in a Google algorithmic preference for this social media platform. It's not the Profiles, the Pages, the Communities, the Hangouts, the hyperlinks, the structure, or even the Authorship. The authority given and received in Google+ comes from the people.

Throughout this series I'm going to cover a lot of the new technical aspects of Google+ optimization, but I wanted to start with emphasizing the most important point of all, so that we don't get too close to the forest to see the trees.

Back in September I wrote the following which will be most pertinent throughout this subject:

I myself have tried many of the Google+ "tricks," tested this and that, trying to isolate and understand many of the results. I'm one of those who came to Google Plus seeking "the power," more than 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.
Here lies one of the biggest misunderstandings of the Google+ social media platform to enhance our Search Engine Optimization (SEO), 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 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.

1. What are the powers of Google+ SEO for ranking in Search?


For details on how the Google+ link structure works & how engagement is passed between entities, I will again refer back to my earlier research on this.

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+.

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.

③ [Update 2014: These links are now "nofollow."] 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+.

④ [Update 2014: These links are now "nofollow."] 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 also have 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 some confusion arises when trying to measure links in specific numbers, and I'm going to talk about these specific search patterns later in this series.

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. 

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.

2. The power of engagement on Google+ for Social SEO.


Within this broad topic of Google+ SEO, I'll be talking a lot about G+ Profile & Business Page authority, PageRank, backlinks & other technical aspects, but the real life social aspect of all this is the biggest takeaway to remember. So please watch this 7 minute excerpt of an interview I did last summer with the amazing Martin Shervington, on how all the Google+ optimization we're talking about here, is just genuine Social SEO, it's all about making a connection with real people.

The Power of Engagement on Google Plus for Social SEO

[Excerpts from video]

Joshua Berg:
If you're within Google+ and you are looking for the power of Google+ or the Google "link juice." Then all that comes through engagement with other people within Google+ and it all happens naturally, just by way of them mentioning your name or sharing your content.
Martin Shervington:

And this is the brilliance behind it. It is a social experience. Isn’t it? And who you are connected with and who you relate to and who you are interacting with. And the more positive those flows, the more likely it is that your content then gains weight or then if they are sharing it, they will then more likely get that content into search. So this is natural. Totally organic.

Joshua Berg:
Whatever it is, you create that network and in the real world it’s just a lot of words going back and forth. But in the digital world, it’s actual, traceable links that represent numbers and this all means something, and the authority means something, and the quantity means something, and the content means something. It’s all significant within the digital world.

For more on powerful Social SEO see my comprehensive SMO
Social Media Optimization for SEO. The Future of Search.

3. What does Google+ PageRank authority have to do with SEO?


As a follow up to this & for anyone who's new to this topic that might be wondering what on earth we're talking about when we say Profile Authority, or Google+ PR, or link shares through engagement, the in-depth story is in the following series of articles I wrote last summer called Google+ PageRank - Part 1-6.