The importance of Google+ to SEO explained in 2 Images

Examples showing how building your network in Google+ gives you more visibility in the search results

This post highlights part of the importance of Google+ for SEO purposes. It does so by contrasting 2 screengrabs of Google search results pages, illustrating how H&M have managed to use Google+ to radically affect results for their network of followers, or circlers if you prefer.

About the Images

Both images are from Google.com, where the feature which makes this important to SEO, ‘Search Plus Your World‘ have rolled out more fully than in other countries.

  • The first image shows search results for ‘David Beckham’ when not logged into Google+
  • The second image shows search results for ‘David Beckham’ when logged in. The important thing to note here is that H&M’s business page is circled by the account I’ve used to take the screengrabs.

Image 1: Not Logged In to Google+

Image 2: Logged In to Google+

In other words, simply due to the fact that I’ve circled H&M on Google+, I now see lots of extra content related to their brand, simply because they’ve posted that content to Google+ and it’s vaguely related to the search term I’ve used.

The Images Side By Side

To illustrate just how much Google have changed here, let’s take a look at the images side-by-side:

How Google+ can help you grow your community in Google+

There’s a further way in which Google+ can have an impact. This time, the example is a generic search where H&M get’s featured in the right sidebar of Google+ even when the user isn’t logged in. When discussing this post with Dave Chaffey, he said he had captured this image in the initial alert of the Google+ search announcement.

If you repeat the search today, you’ll see the figure in the top right for H&M shows their network has roughly doubled from 243,000 to 535,00 in two months. Of course, we don’t know the monetary value of having someone in a circle, but I hope I’ve showed through the screen captures that a large network helps increase visibility of a brand online.

Summary

Simply by doing 2 things, H&M have managed to hijack a large portion of the search engine results page for ‘David Beckham’. If you count up the individual items, there are more than ten individual links through to H&M’s Google+ content when logged in, zero when not logged in.

At the most basic level, the 2 things they’ve done are:

  1. Grown a large Google+ following – big enough that they affect more than 500,000 peoples’ search results when they are logged into G+.
  2. Shared a lot of content related to David Beckham on Google+.

And of course, if H&M’s followers reshare their Google+ content, and you’re following their sharers, the effect spreads much further.

This is just a single example among many ramifications of Google+ on SEO, but I hope it helps explain part of the importance. Do leave a comment if you have any other good examples, or any other notes on Google+ and SEO.

  • http://about.me/miketrap Mike Troiano

    Value prop of G+ for brands is pretty clear. For users, less so. And if they don’t get the latter, the former goes away.

    • Darnelle

      Dead on.

      Facebook is effective as a brand platform because Facebook built a huge, engaged user base before brands began to really leverage it.

      G+ is the opposite, and Google has pretty much forced brands to adopt it.

      Problem is, as a user, why would I go to G+ to follow a brand?

      Just because H&M is on G+ doesn’t mean I’m going to be. Given the lack of activity, I’d say most of my friends feel the same way.

      • davechaffey

        Same – I feel brands are forced to act – Dan’s post shows this. H&M has built up a fair following, so the G+ proposition must work for some, even if the majority prefer Facebook.

        • ncompass

          I am sorry both of you, you only have to see that H&M have 250k circling them to realise that it is to a Brands advantage to make use of Google+. I personally am extremely selective over brands that I follow, but clearly plenty of Google+ers aren’t so selective, proof in the pudding.

  • http://www.searchmanager.se Robert Nyberg

    This is so obvious and brands need to checkout G+ and dont the neglect the importance of social and search.

  • Geoff Kitchen

    I think this simply exposes why Google+ will ultimately fail. The search results when logged in are generally awful.

    If you are searching for David Beckham, the non-logged in results are excellent. Logged in, very poor.

    The answer is to not log in or use Bing.

  • http://marthagiffen.com/ Martha Giffen

    thank you thank you thank you!! I had no idea G+ could be so useful. I hardly ever go over there. That all changes NOW!

  • http://www.averagejoesblog.com Average Joes

    My name and face appears alot in this. One point to personalised search ;-)

  • Bryan Dibben

    Thank you Dan for an interesting article.

    Are we heading for a world where the first page is occupied by Google owned or favoured search results?

    A few more Google ads here, a little bit of Google plus there, and a youtube video here and hey presto a whole page of Google.

    The perception that Google returns relevant search results is its key competitive advantage.

    They start messing with this and they are heading for trouble.

    • http://twitter.com/danbarker dan barker

      hi, Bryan,

      I agree with you. There has been a lot of talk about this, particularly among the SEO community.

      I suspect Google are pushing this very hard in the short term to try and pull as many people into G+ as possible, and then may soften it somewhat later. A bit like someone who plows budget into PPC early on, even though it leads to a loss, on the presumption that it will grow the brand and they can soften later.

      If you look at it like that, you could view this essentially as a bribe to get brands on board, and for brands to help them grow G+.

      A bit cynical, but worth thinking about these things!

      dan

      • ncompass

        I wouldn’t hold your breath about the ‘softening’ – it a battle between Facebook and Google that demands users stay on their websites. Is the Mantra ‘do no evil’ now dead?

        • http://twitter.com/danbarker dan barker

          The man who pushed them to go with the ‘do no evil’ motto was apparently Paul Buchheit (creator of Gmail), who left a few years ago.

          Incidentally, there’s a great interview with him in Founders at Work, a book everybody should read.

  • ncompass

    I want to propose a question… Does this mean we can hijack the celebrity status of a keyword? Will Google allow this? For example:

    I pick a high volume keyword like ‘Paris Hilton’ and then Post content and photos about her on my Google+ profile and maybe a Video for good measure. This would significantly boost my Google+ Profile matched with the ‘keyword’.

    This would cause a boom (I assume) in people circling my profile and feed the fire as more followers mean even more search engine rankings and so on.

    But am I abusing the celebrity/keyword and would Google work this out? Because obviously I have nothing to do with ‘Paris Hilton’.

    I guess my question is can keywords really be hijacked in this way?

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Hi, Good thought, but I haven’t seen examples of this and think it would be hard to compete with the network a celeb would have built up.

      • ncompass

        ‘Paris Hilton’ was a bad example, but there are probably lots of celebrities who do not yet have a Google+ profile… there in lies an opportunity for less scrupulous marketeers.

        Also to note: would Google limit the SERPS to one Google+ Profile? I wonder

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  • http://www.ScottBartell.com Scott Bartell

    I really want to get a Google+ strategy going for a few brands.. but it seems that most people that are on Google+ are SEOs / marketers and that’s really not my target market.

    • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

      Hi Scott, the majority of actives are probably tech/marketing as you say, but growing consumer and business audience, for example, see our post H&M engaging consumer audiences.
      Dave

      • http://www.ScottBartell.com Scott Bartell

        I can see how Google+ could be helpful to a major brand such as H&M. Hell, if you just throw a +1 button on the page you’re bound to get some visitors who use Google+ and will click the button… But where I am struggling to see much benefit is with smaller local brands.

        I would agree that G+ has some major benefits for SEO. But even with a growing customer segment it seems like a lost cause. Especially when ~80%+ of your target customers use Facebook.. and only (a likely faster growing) ~2% use G+.

        • http://www.smartinsights.com/ Dave Chaffey

          Hi Scott, yes, H&M have a big hand-up since Google feature them in the SERPS for millions of brand queries.
          It WILL be difficult for smaller local brands and a lower priority than Facebook for now, but G+ is only heading in one direction, so I think even small businesses must have a basic presence and look to grow followers.
          Dave

  • http://www.yaqsh.com/ YaqshDiamonds

    I find google+ more valuable in term of seo. Google+ has more rooms instead i must say communities to discuss or hangouts. Thats why its more interesting and people prefer to be active on it.

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