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What Google+ Means for SEO

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Recently we provided a quick guide to SEO for beginners. Hopefully you found it helpful but one elephant in the room we failed to mention is the new social site that’s got SEOs giddy with anticipation: Google+.

Google’s new social platform has been with us for a month now and has caused quite a stir already. This is because, as well as having some fairly nifty features, it also has some interesting potential implications for SEO. Whilst none of these have yet been confirmed by Google, and no one knows for certain how searches are going to be affected, SEOs looking to stay one step ahead of the curve are assessing and experimenting with Google+.

One major point of interest is the +1 feature. Similar to a ‘Like’ on Facebook, +1 is the way Google+ users can show their appreciation for posts, links and shared material. As with Likes, Retweets and other social share functions, the +1 button is a valuable way to spread content and organically garner links. But it also has a role as an ‘approval’ feature for Google, providing a new way for its search algorithms to assess trustworthiness and overall page rank, although Google is yet to confirm that this is being used. Though some are concerned about the increase in load time caused by installing it, many believe, ourselves included, that it would be wise to add the +1 button to your site now if you want to feel the SEO benefits when it begins to be factored into search.

Google+’s other big feature is Circles. These allow you to divide up your contacts into different groups, or circles, based on your relationship with them, and share different content with different circles. This serves to keep those pictures from last night out of sight of family, or work life away from friends. But it also provides valuable information to Google on who you are linked to, and whose networks overlap with yours. This allows them to look at what has been shared or enjoyed by people who operate in similar circles to you and provide results that are relevant not just to your keyword, but to you as a person. For SEOs, this means that a high number of ‘friends’ in the social media world no longer simply represents a large marketing opportunity, but the opportunity to be tailored into those users’ search results, and maybe even the search results of their friends. Search expert Danny Sullivan has claimed he has already seen brands he is linked to getting a ranking boost. Right now Google is keeping a lid on new brand profiles on Google+, but expects to have them fully available by the end of the year. When that happens, it will pose a valuable opportunity to get a shortcut into the rankings of those you are linked to.

Whilst no one knows for sure what Google+’s effects will be on the world of SEO (the search engine has the ability to keep people guessing without the social factor!), it is clear that Google+ is only part of a larger, more long term strategy on Google’s part. With the potential for such huge effects on the way that consumers access online information, it is something you ignore at your peril.

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