14 April 2012

Google+ affects your site's search engine ranking and here's how to improve it

Out of millions of websites out there you wouldn't want yours to drown into the ground with no visibility, would you? The search engine giant Google uses a lot of factors to judge where your website should show up in its results when someone searches for a relevant phrase. It isn't possible to discuss all those factors in a single article therefore here I'll be focusing only on one point which is how does Google+ profiles and pages affect your rankings.

On 10th April, my guest post titled "Differences between Google+ pages and profiles" was published on Freelance Switch.

I received an interesting question in the comments whose answer I wish to write here as a blog post as the answer is too long to write as a reply-comment.

Kenny of Medical Lab Supply asked:

I was wondering when it comes to SEO stuff, does it make a difference whether you choose a page or a profile?

The answer is not as simple as it may seem. Mainly because Google is not yet telling us (at least not completely) about how they are using +1's to index sites on Google. Here is what they are telling us:

Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1's from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1's, as with any new ranking signal, we are starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.  - Google+ Webmaster FAQ

Note the phrase - "just one of many signals".  What other signals is Google using is unknown.

This article will answer Kelly's question by the bits and pieces of information that Google has revealed about +1's affects on SEO.

Google+ profiles/pages can affect one special type of Google search named "Personalized search." 

Note on image - I am following Freelance Switch's official Google+ page through my Google+ profile. Therefore when I searched for the keyword "freelance" the page shared by Freelance Switch showed higher in my search results. Read the points below for details. 
  1. You publish a page on your site.
  2. You +1 it, or share it on Google+. (Note that you cannot +1 your site's page via your Google+ page as it is not allowed by Google+. In fact Google+ pages cannot +1 anything on the Internet except for Google+ posts.)
  3. A person who has circled you on Google+ signs into a Google product. (This Google product need not to be only Google+ but any other Google product like Orkut, Gmail etc.)
  4. That person searches for a keyword on Google that is related to your published post.
If ALL of the above four conditions are satisfied then your page will appear higher in that person's search results. Google calls it "Search, plus your world"or "Personalized search."

The beautiful video below (a bit outdated, but still relevant in many forms) explains this point more properly.

Now there is something a little more complicated to discuss. How do Google+ profiles and pages affect the traditional, the non personalized search results of Google search? 

The discussion in the next paragraph is deeply inspired from Mashable's article How Google +1 button affects SEO.

This is related to the number of +1's your page receives. Sometimes Google may display the number of +1's of your page, even when the searching person is not signed into a Google product. The more +1's you have, the more a person is likely to click on that link as it will seem more reliable. And when he visits your link, Google's crawlers register more traffic for your site and this increases your SEO. (SEO depends up on a number of factors. One of them is how much traffic is your site receiving. The more traffic your site receives, the higher it will be ranked in Google.) So you see, your SEO increases indirectly from the number of +1's.

Now, pages have the +1 button which can be integrated with your website. This means if someone +1's your Google+ page, your website automatically gets a +1 and vice-versa. This can substantially increase the number of +1's of your website's home page and as a consequence, indirectly impact your home page's rank in Google.

But this will impact only the home page and not other pages. 

So I don't think there is any good reason to prefer a page over a profile or vice-versa to improve your SEO. What (indirectly) counts is the total number of +1's of your website's pages and not whether you have a Google+ profile or a Google+ page.

Was this article confusing? Or you understood all points? Let me know in the comments below.
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