What's The Deal With Google Plus?Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Google+ is still a bit of a mystery to marketers. Are people really using it? To what extent does it affect search rankings? To answer these questions, we did some serious investigating. Here’s what we found.
How many people are actually using Google+?
Google+ reported 300 million active monthly users in October 2013.
That’s a mighty big number, more than Twitter’s 241 million and only second to Facebook’s 1.23 billion. This report is surprising, especially for those of you who can’t name one friend or coworker who is actively using Google+.
Well, after a little digging, we found some disputing evidence.
According to an article by Digital Trends, any time someone clicks the notifications bell icon (which is visible in all Google products when you’re signed into your account—Gmail, YouTube, Drive, etc.), that person is counted as an active user.
So while some people (like those who work in IT) are getting involved in discussions and sharing content on Google+, some of these 300 million active users are probably stumbling into Google+ unintentionally by clicking to see what that red number is at the top of their screen.
The high adoption rate of Google+ might also be explained by the way it was rolled out—as a “social layer” that spans across all of Google’s products. It wasn’t a totally new product, like Facebook was in 2005, but more of an extension of products people were already using. If you wanted to continue commenting on YouTube videos, rating apps in the Google Play store, or writing “Google reviews” about restaurants and businesses, you had to create a Google+ profile.
The bottom line: Next time Google+ numbers are announced, take the news with a grain of salt.
Does sharing content on Google+ improve your SEO?
Moz says, “Yes.”
A scientific study by Moz found that "after Page Authority, a URL's number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor." Then Moz suggested (I repeat, suggested) that this might be a case of causation, rather than just correlation.
(In case you didn’t know, Google +1 is kind of like a Facebook “Like.” It’s how you show your appreciation for a webpage and share content with your Google+ circles.)
Matt Cutts says, “Not how you think it does.”
Google’s Matt Cutts denied that +1ing and sharing content on Google+ directly influences rankings, pointing out that great content is naturally going to rank higher in search AND get more social shares.
But that’s not all, folks.
In an update to Moz’s original post, Moz accepts Cutts’ statement that +1s don’t directly influence ranking. However, Moz goes on to say that Google+ posts do have other SEO benefits, such as creating a unique search listing for each post.
Because Moz and Cutts are both very credible sources, we suggest taking each of their advice. Listen to Matt Cutts—focus first and foremost on creating great content, and share it on Google+.
And follow Moz’s suggestions on using Google+ for SEO:
- When you share content on Google+, click the yellow icon to attach it as a link. If you paste the URL into the text of your post, it might not get crawled by search bots.
- Share your posts with the “Public,” and to as many relevant circles as you can.
- Set up Authorship. By connecting your blog to your Google+ profile, your profile picture will appear in search results next to your post. And having your picture attached to your content can increase click through rates by up to 150%. Learn more about Google Authorship’s SEO benefits, and download the Google Authorship Setup Guide.
The bottom line: First, focus on creating great content. Then share it on Google+ to reach more people and get those additional SEO benefits.
The future of Google+ in unclear, but if they keep rolling out cool features like Hangouts and Communities, it might be here to stay. It’s never a bad thing to be an early adopter, so keep on studying and using Google+.