The influence that social media in general has on your search engine rankings has increased significantly over the past year, and in all likelihood will continue to do so for years to come. Currently, the way the most popular social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and some social bookmarking sites, influence search results relates primarily to the number of shares a given web page has received. But when it comes to the influence of Google’s own social network, Google+, it appears that Google is making some huge strides in the direction of integrating social media into its search platform. But what Google+ features have the biggest potential to influence search rankings?
Direct Connection to Websites
The connection of your website with social networks is nothing new, but there are some distinct differences between something like Facebook Open Graph and Google+ website integration. While connecting your website with your Facebook page may allow someone to Like your page from your website or see the comment their friend left on your website in their newsfeed, the connection itself carries little weight when it comes to your Google rankings. Connecting your website and your Google+ page, however, can give your website significantly more exposure on rankings pages by including links to your Google+ profile and recent posts in the right sidebar.
Articles & Authorship
One unique feature of Google+ that integrates easily into Google search results allows you to identify your personal Google+ profile as the author of a blog. When an article you have written shows up in search results, searchers then have the options of seeing other articles you have written and adding you to their Google+ Circles. This can be particularly effective in terms of SEO if your blog is on your business website, as it can help draw more attention to your articles, resulting in more links to your site.
Followers & +1s
+1 is Google’s version of Facebook’s Like. It’s a button that appears on Google’s social network and on many websites that allows users to subscribe to the posts of a business page. The main difference between Likes and +1s in terms of SEO is that users who are logged into Google+ will see personalized search results based on who they have +1ed. This means that if you rank on page three of Google for a certain keyword to a user that is not logged in, users who are logged in and have you in their circles would likely see your website on the first page of the search results. When it comes to +1s, the more the better, as the more people subscribe to you, the wider the spread of your bump in the search results will be.
The importance of optimizing your website for local audiences continues to become more and more important as smartphone usage continues to increase. One of the easiest ways to make yourself visible to a local audience is by optimizing your Google+ Local listing because of the benefits that the listings provide when it comes to search results. There are two major incentives for optimizing your Google+ Local listing. The first is that being included in Google+ Local allows your business to appear as a pin on a Google map within the search results, and the second is that your search rankings will be improved based on the location from which people are searching. If you aren’t already listed in Google+ Local, it’s a quick and easy way to significantly improve your SEO and your mobile visibility.