|DO THE MATH The SEO value |
of the Google+ button can add up
On the other hand, you know all those Google +1 buttons you see around the web? The ones that you've probably been ignoring because you've heard that Google+ is a ghost town and, as such, has no role in your SEO and social media plans? It's time to take a closer look at them.
Google +1 buttons are often called Google's version of Facebook's Like button, in that +1 buttons let users endorse content on the web. Think of it as a "digital thumbs up." There is, however, an important difference that every marketer should know: The very purpose of the +1 button is to influence search results on Google.
Every time you +1 an article, post, video, site, or other content, you are generating an inbound link to it. All of your +1 content appears under a tab on your public Google profile, which you can either share with the world or just certain contacts.
Indeed, the +1 button is one of the low-hanging fruits of SEO development, and it's becoming more important as Google tightens its search algorithms to weed out practically all forms of link generation, sans those acquired through authentic means such as earned media (i.e., press and blogger coverage) and social sharing.
Those links people are buying? Affiliate networks they're using? Blog farms they're cultivating? Blog comments they're posting with link-backs? Linked keyword stuffing on blog posts? All these activities are now considered gray hat, even black hat techniques, bordering on spam. Each recent update to Google's search algorithm increasingly considers such methods inauthentic, and is bucketing them under black-hat SEO tactics.
All of this is good news for PR and social media pros who eschew quick fixes in favor of producing great content and conducting genuine social networking. At Gregory FCA, we've banned virtually all gray and black hat tactics since the day we started our social media practice, way back in 2004. Our emphasis has always been on developing content with high intrinsic value for intended audiences, so it attracts readers, gets shared, gets talked about, and gets linked.
Pair that with 1:1 human-powered engagement on relevant social networks, and you have a formula for SEO success. That means no robots and no automated publishing. No black magic or super-secret sauce there. Just real people doing real work; maintaining a dialog with readers (i.e., our clients and their audiences); and training clients how to use social media, because the last thing you want is a PR executive pretending to be a thought leader in your industry. No, you want the experienced PR pro to teach you how to use the tools of social media so you, the actual thought leader, can spread your guidance far and wide.
I hope you now see why the Google +1 button is a crucial marketing tool, and an essential part of an SEO strategy. But to tap it in an authentic manner, YOU must be generating those +1s, along with your entire organization, to the extent that is possible. This requires putting an orchestration plan and team in place to scale your efforts and fully engage as many of your people as you can. A good orchestration team is as large as possible, and its members ...
- Have robust, fully fleshed out Google+ profiles.
- Frequently +1 your company's content, your partners' content, and your customers' content. An easy way to +1 your content is to look up your keywords on Google and +1 your own results.
- Encourage partners and customers to +1 your content.
- Are good social sharing citizens, and are diligent about +1ing any and all content they feel is relevant and provides value to their network, not just their company's.
And it's all the more reason for your orchestration team to participate authentically in the Google+ social network. The richer their G+ engagement, and the more folks following them (even more links to their profile), the more value (one would presume) those +1 links (and shares) have.