Using Google+ to Aid Your SEO

Over the last few days Google have launched a potential game changer into the search world. ‘Search plus Your World’ has set up a firm foundation for Google to move into becoming a social search engine in an effort to make its search results more personalised and relevant to the individual user, allowing them to have more access to information and content from people they know or from within their own online sphere.

One of the main changes brought in through this update is the way that Google+ accounts, pages and information have become even more deeply intertwined with search results. Information shared on Google+ is becoming even more prominent in today’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), out ranking rival social networks in search rankings and set to play a deeper role in personal searches. This is why any current SEO Training should include information about the way we currently use Google+ and guidelines about using it as a tool to help get your content, and message, across.

Circles

Keeping organised groups of experts, pages and enthusiasts of different subjects is a great way to filter and view new content and comments around one topic. Building your own directory of large circles not only opens up your network to a wider audience it also helps to build internal links.

When your content appears on other users’ streams it is indexed by the web crawlers and the more a piece of content is crawled the more importance search engines place upon it.

So the more people you share your content with the better chance you have of achieving a high search ranking, as well as improving your odds of receiving more shares, +1’s and comments.

Google + Circles

We have put together a few Google+ circles for you to add to your own profiles, so you can get a start on growing your network:

  • SEO: Here is a circle of SEO experts profiles and pages which will give you the latest and up-to-date information from the world of SEO
  • Social Media: A circle of the movers and shakers in Social Media
  • Project Management: Includes experienced project managers, project management methodologies and pages offering project management tips
  • Software Testing: Pages and profiles offering insight and tips on software testing
  • Photoshop: Adobe Photoshop enthusiasts and professionals who share their knowledge of how to best use the photo editing software.

Make sure you add more profiles and pages to these circles expand your reach.

Google+ Authorship

Authorship

Google have been including author information into their search results for a while now, displaying a thumbnail photo and link to the author’s Google+ account within search results. However, now they have made it easier for Google+ users to lay claim to their online content without having to link your content to your profile using HTML author tags.

By adding the sites you contribute content to in your profile’s ‘Contributor to’ box and by making sure your email address is added to the ‘Work’ box all on your profile, Google will include your image and G+ account details to its indexed links; as long as the original post includes your name and ideally your email address.

This is a great tool to allow you to stake claim to your work and direct readers to your own account, as well as being potentially a great way of cracking down on people copying your work rather than sharing it.

Take a look at Google’s content guidelines to find out more about including your author information in search results.

The Profile

Google+ Authorship

Your profile is your online you. Google+ has set itself apart from other social media sites such as Facebook by making public profile pages far more searchable to search engines by default, indexing information such as:

  • Your Biography
  • All text from any publicly shared posts
  • Anything you have +1’d, be it on Google+ or on an external site
  • All of your photos
  • Links to anyone who has added you in one of their own circles

A lot of information can be extracted from this, which is why you can use your profile as a tool to connect everything you have done online, making it searchable in personal searches and Search Plus Your World queries. Luckily, Google do make it easy for you to manage what information you do and don’t want shared and indexed, so spending that extra bit of time sorting out your privacy settings is a must.

Sharing

Sharing on G+

Due to its keyword rich and easily web bot readable set up, shared content on Google+ has a tendency to do very well in search results. While some say this is due to Google favouring its own products a lot of it is due to the way they optimise their pages, which include long and descriptive title tags which hold more valuable information for crawlers to use in order to accurately index the page.

Also, using your circles you can easily specify who you share your content with, so you can easily target your audience with relevant content they would be interested in. This will mark the post as “Limited” on your shared post, which when clicked will show who you have selected to be privy to the post. Combine this with tagging people using a “+” or “@” before typing their name to really give a sense of personalisation, thus highly increasing the odds of your content being viewed by the people you really want to see it.

We have recently published a post giving the low-down on ‘Search plus Your World’ and its potential threat to SEO and online marketing, so be sure to give it a read to find out more about how the new development could affect your SEO efforts.

From what we’ve seen personal search is here to stay, so the time is now to adopt techniques to get your content found or risk falling off of the search map forever.

Written for Cornwall SEO by Silicon Beach Training providers of SEO Training, PRINCE2 Training, Business, Management, Programming and Mobile Development Workshops.

 

Is Panda Crushing your Website

Did searchers complain when Google dropped low quality content in their Panda update? Or was it mostly owners of low quality websites who got body slammed by Google, no, they did not take to the streets in a popular uprising. In fact, most regular searchers have probably not noticed the difference.

But what about owners of websites who Google thinks delivers low quality content. I say “thinks”, as some quality sites were hit and some low quality sites untouched.

For example, do a search for “petrol engine” and result number 5 is a mobile phone company. Talktalk – who sent rather rude door to door salesmen to my house a while back so screw them – have decided to throw up a ton of low level content in the guise of encyclopedic knowledge.

Does Google mind?

Doesn’t seem to, after all they are ranking 5th for Petrol Engine. You would think Rolls Royce, Museum of Transport, Imperial College, even Animatedengines.com – check out their Wankle – would rank for “petrol engine”, but no, Google has decided that a mobile phone company should.

Yeah I know, they offer broadband as well, but that’s still nowhere near the German invention which changed the world. Who invented the Petrol Engine

I write about this to give you a quick example that low content crap can work for your website, you just have to do it a certain way.

Cyrus Shepard, writing for SEOmoz, has listed ‘Five deadly content sins’, which, if committed, will see your site penalised by Google’s Panda Update very quickly

On SeOMoZ, Cyrus Shepard wrote about Panda and the, “Five deadly content sins”, which may harm your website.

Brafton.com are reporting from SES San Francisco that

“The key to SEO in the post-Panda searchscape, say SES experts, is creating compelling content pages that site visitors will engage.”

Not sure if the “experts” have been searching for petrol engines recently. Of course, I am searching from Cornwall, UK. So using the Cornish search index which is heavily weighted to Cornish pasties. OK, maybe Google doesn’t have a “Cornish index” yet, I am using the UK bit of Google.

The evidence is clearly that you can put up low quality content and get away with it, you simply have to get Google to view you a certain way. What are these “SES experts” not telling us?

Search for “who invented the petrol engine” and you get an about.com page.

And what you get is utter garbage. You get a page where the actual information is less that a quarter of the page above the fold. The page is actually taken up by the notorious “tip of the belly” adverts. Which allegedly use fake news to promote their diet aid, the acai berry.

In fact some blogs are even calling the tip of the belly marketing technique as a blog scam.

Google seems to hate it when you use fake news to get links, but doesn’t see to mind when promoting sites like about.com which carry these adverts.

So, what can we learn from this?

Is Google really penalising low content sites or is it only certain sites, whilst others are untouched?

From the evidence, it seems the model about.com and Talktalk.co.uk are the kind of low level content sites you should be building.

It’s a shame that Google, once a highly ethical company seems to have no problem with sites who aggressively advertise dodgy diet adverts, in fact they give such sites authority and hold them as an example of quality.

The Bounce Factor

You search for something on Google, click through to it, don’t like what you see so you go back to Google and search again.

Google measures this, clicking the back button is the sign of a low quality site. Seems fair enough. But what if that low quality page has a killer advert for a diet aid. Wow, must click though and get some easy diet pill. And thus NO BACK BUTTON IS CLICKED

DUH!

Is it quality? No of course not. It’s an SEO trick – although I doubt as a trick it’s being talked about at San Francisco SES – negate the bounce rate by getting the searcher to click through to an offer they cannot refuse, or at least 10% – 17% cannot.

Quality content is a nonsense phrase. Because it’s relative, you need content that works. Quality content is beat by low level content constantly, at least from the POV of Google and that’s what we are talking about right? You simply have to look at the search results page to see this truth.

If we are talking about branding and marketing to specific segments of the market I would go for quality content all the time. But for SEO, for Google. Naaaaaah!

“They”, will tell you to go for quality content, but what you really should be going for is content that works and we see with our own own eyes the empirical evidence that clearly states you do not need to quality content to rank, you simply need to create pages of low quality content in specific ways.

Those of you who disagree, please note I am presenting the evidence and pointing to it, if you wish to present evidence of SERPS that present quality, interesting, useful content then please do.

Also, note that the searches done here are based in the UK and may look different to where you are sitting.

Blogging the Topical Miasma

This post is the 4th in a series.

The others are:

They are part of an SEO experiment. I love being in the lab, it’s the best part of SEO I think, tinkering in the lab with stuff and discovering what happens if you put this and this together and give it a twist of this.

So, three posts, pulled from topical news from my feed reader. Written quickly and with a conversational style. Giving useful, actionable information and mostly focussed on SEO, social media or tech.

Pluck out a newsy topic, write some stuff quickly and then publish. It’s actually a quite common technique which focusses on the power of the title tag and the authority of a website/blog. These terms are topical and so get searched for, although it’s mostly used by sites who make money from displaying adverts but it can be useful for other business models.

The trick is, you have to write well and have an attractive style. You also have to know a little about what you’re talking about. Not a lot, it doesn’t have to have depth, but it needs to have a wide surface area and you need to know how to communicate that in a way that is pithy and makes sense.

Oh yeah, it also helps with your writing if you know a few uncommon words which you can include here and there, it makes people think you are more brainy than you actually are. I’m a lover of words and have a book shelf full of books on words, so it flows out when I need it.

How does this help you if you have an affiliate blog selling model trains online?

Best to outsource if this to your team members. What do you mean you don’t have a team and you do everything on your own? Hmmm, that’s for another post.

Hire poets to write your blog posts, they are the fastest and most exciting bloggers, if you can get them to stop smoking weed for a few mins. Don’t hire copywriters, the art of the word is beaten out of these people from birth. You want to rise above the swamp, not add to its moist, fecund mass.

And there is another reason for this series, I love to write this kinda stuff.

And you really should do what you love.

AT&T get not talked about in Huffington Post blog that zzzzzzzzz

I used to like the Huffington Post a lot, run by…. you know the story. Look, I even gave Arianna – or is it AOL – a link. But come on on guys, simple pumping out the Reuters news feed is a bif naff.

Here is the headline.

AT&T Sues Users Who Want To Block T-Mobile Buy

Hypnotists are thinking of using the headline to put users into a deeper trance, it made me take a one way trip to snoozeville.

And here is the story.

AT&T Inc is turning to the federal courts to thwart an effort led by law firm Bursor & Fisher to derail AT&T’s $39 billion takeover bid for Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile.

Real page turner right. But come on, any good SEO worth his weight in PR knows what’s going on here. Get a blog Google loves and then start pumping out the soporific dross which will cause a mind numbing freeze to take place. Only released by repeated visits to the Onion.

From a business POV it makes sense, because this is how Google does the Internet. Should you do it, of course, it’s a proven model. Should I do it, I think I may have to if I want that Aston Martin.

Kate Plus 8

Know what Kate Plus 8 means, me neither until today. It was a reality show on TLC which was recently cancelled, which gives us enough information to know not to go any further.

But what was weird is when I googled the term (I noticed it come up in some trackers I use) howimakestuffworks.com was the domain which came up.

Now I thought howimakestuffworks.com would be about telling me how stuff works. But now, they stick on the tlc sub-domain and suddenly the tail is wagging the dog. Possibly because Google gives howimakestuffworks.com they have decided to dump as much content on their as possible and soak up CPM advertising goodness.

Does this make the search experience worse or better. Not sure, as the page offered up was the official page, just on an odd url. This possibly pushes all the user generated fan pages to the bottom of the swamp, but is that a good thing.

If you had two options on Google, one for the brand loving official stuff and one for the wet and wild user generated fan stuff, which would get pushed the most?

My thinking is the user gen stuff as it’s more authentic, more from the heart. More passionate.

But saying all that, from a pure business play, howimakestuffworks.com is probably doing the right thing.