February 29, 2012 - Comments Off on Five Key Discussion Points on Google Plus

Five Key Discussion Points on Google Plus

Today was the second in a series of Leeds Digital Lunch events that focused on SEO and the much maligned/discussed Google+ was the subject. The panel featured the cream of Leeds’ SEO and Digital brains – including Bloom of course – which was aimed at answering questions on what exactly Google+ is and what it is for.

In front of a packed upstairs room in the Adelphi, we discussed all aspects of Google+ with the aim of providing information on aspects of SEO, strategy and Social Media. It was clear from the start that everyone in the room already has a Google+ account and more than 90% were early adopters. However, digging into more details about usage showed an alarming low number of people that were visiting it more than once a week. This is quite an concerning figure to begin the discussion and something of a negative start for Google. Something that all of us on the panel wanted to discuss was the latest engagement figures on Google+ that showed the rapid decline in visitor time on G+, from 5 minutes in November down to just 3 in January. In isolation this may not seem like a big deal but compare the average dwell time on Facebook at six to seven hours…this is a big deal.

So why is that? The first discussion point of the day was around what Google actually is and what people understand it to be. A very simple definition is that it’s very essence is simply a copy of Facebook. The interface of a news feed, which is populated by people you are connected to, is simply the Facebook news feed. There is a section to upload photos and videos are again similar to Facebook and lastly we have the +1 button to ‘like’ content. So definition over, right? Perhaps not. Going into depth about the individual features and how they work we started to show how Google+ (from now on will be referred to as G+) is actually socially connecting all of its assets. From the myriad of products available, it was only a matter of time before Google began to cull the non-events (Wave or Buzz anyone?) and truly focus on the ones that could turn G+ into something of a game changer.

Search Plus Your World (SPYW) – or Search+ as the panel agreed – quickly followed suit. What was definitely agreed here was that for Brands this is almost a given to be on here. With Direct Connect stimulating people to connect with brands directly into G+, this is surely a big plus for people to use Search+. The possibility for brands to engage with people within the SERPs is definitely a huge draw for why people should be there. But don’t forget that having people in your circles recommend and showing their votes on content within the SERPs is also encouraging more G+ interaction. Personalised search could be something that SEOs will definitely be challenged by.

Which brings me nicely to the next stand out point, content. A question from the audience asked what was the difference between G+ and LinkedIn, or even Facebook and what will the differences in how we share things be? A very good question and something that we truly didn’t have time to answer. Looking at this from a top down approach, we all agreed that each network should have its own content strategy and something that is planned in addition to Facebook and Linkedin. G+ is not something that you can simply dabble in as you need to be showing people there’s a reason to add you to their circles and +1 their content. As with everything on the web content needs to be unique, engaging and stimulate people to share it.

The next point raised was about Google’s revenue and how it will monetise G+ in line with its primary revenue source – PPC. It is very doubtful that we will see Google abandon PPC ads in favour of the Search+ so this is the area that holds the most interest in my opinion. Seeing +1s in PPC ads and having people that I’m connected to recommending I visit a site is going to be a powerful stimulus to click on that result. But what about within G+ itself? With the revenue model and ad serving sophistication that Google already possess, it surely should translate well to G+. In what form is yet to manifest itself until we see it move out of Beta and rolled out globally I feel. However, the closing comment on this is definitely the potential to be the first Social Networking site that becomes commercially viable.

Lastly, G+ and SEO. Something that everyone wanted to know was is it useful for SEO and how can we do it? The simple answer was yes it is but not as you may like to think. A common question was ‘if I just get lots of +1s that should have an impact’. Again yes…and no. Plus 1s are a positive signal but more important is the reach of the +1s. If you think of it like spreading the word around people you know, you then share this with people they know, who in turn connect this to very influential people they know…now we’re talking SEO benefit. Establishing links with influential people on subjects to connect to your site is the real game changer here. If you’re experimenting with G+ you’ll probably best starting with becoming a recognised author. It’s pretty straight forward but very challenging as you can find out here.

In summary…

  • Google+ IS here to stay
  • Will Google+ influence SEO? Yes.
  • Search and Social is the future of SEO

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