Browsing through my Google+ stream today I notice a post by Rand Fishkin about how Google+ content is showing up within serps more and more. It reminded me of a deck I put together back in March, 2012. The purpose of the deck was to emphasize the importance of Google+ as part of any “SEO” strategy. It was clear to me, as it was to some others at the time that Google had gone all in with G+ and there was not going to be any turning back.
Remember The Google+ vs Facebook Debate?
You have to remember this was a time when almost everyone was discounting Google+ and trying to compare it to FACEBOOK in terms of a social media platform. For those that understood how Google operates, and their core mission from their start up days of providing the most relevant results to a visitors query, it was pretty obvious Google+ was going to be essential to performing well in organic search results.
Google Personalization Patents
Back in early 2012 I began to comb over Google’s patents and began to put the puzzle pieces together. Based upon what I found in the patents it was CLEAR that Google+ was going to be utilized to drive greater personalization of search results. At the time it was clear that “PERSONALIZED RANK” was going to be more important than “PAGE RANK” going forward.
For SEO’s/Marketers who have been around since Google was a startup, it was pretty clear that Google was going to use Google+ to enable them to finally be able to provide relevant, personalized results. Yes, they had tried and failed before, but as we all know, there are some pretty smart people over at Google, Inc.. They learned from past mistakes, took their time and it was clear they were going “all in” with Google+ as their “personalization engine”.
Google Personalization: It’s All About Terms, Categories, and Links
I found a post that Bill Slawski posted in September, 2012 about Google user profile personalization and Google+ based upon his reviews of Google patents. In his post, he still questioned whether Google was going to use Google+ to help with personalization.
As I mentioned previously, Google has always maintained that their primary goal is to return the most relevant results possible for any given query. Their “Page Rank” based algorithm was a game changer, but it still has flaws, which they quickly discovered. The biggest issue with the page rank algorithm is that it can be “gamed”, as we all know. Google has spent a decade updating, and tweaking their algorithm with funny animal named patches in an effort to slow down the “gamers”.
However, way back in 1998 Google knew that “personalization” was the key. They continually tried to build in systems and applications that would allow them to know more about the search visitor, so that they could provide more relevant results to that visitor.
Based upon Google’s patents at the time, there are 3 key profiles for determining their “personalized rank”, categories, terms and links. Below is the slide I created explaining these profiles.
Google Personalized Rank: How Does Google+ Help?
Within Google personalization patents I found that they list numerous personalized ranking factors. The factors that I believe can be influenced the most by Google+ are direct connections, relevance, degree of separation, engagement, age, popularity, and authority. In my opinion the most important factors that Google+ helps with are direct connections and the degree of separation. Below is the slide…
Content From Websites Connected to Google+ Pages I’m Connected to Bubble to the Top of Search Results!
As Rand points out in the whiteboard mentioned at the beginning of this article, Google+ content “bubbles” up to the top of search results when you are logged into a Google account.
At the time what was so interesting to me was that content on a website that was relevant to my search would rise to the 1st page of results, just because a Google+ page that I was following, was linked to it! Content from a web site that was NEVER shared or posted to Google+!
The below images illustrate how content from a web site climbed to the top of results just because a Google+ page I was follow was “linked” to the site (recommended links within Google+ about section).
It’s Vital To Create Direct Connections With Individuals (building social authority): Google+ is the Tool!
It seems that Google values direct connections between content and you in order to provide personalized search results. Because of this, as a web site owner, or brand it is important to “connect” your content with as many individuals as possible.
Remember, the personalization patents mention 3 distinct profiles for each individual, so there are a lot of factors in play, but having direct connections is very important!
MORE CONNECTIONS = MORE SOCIAL AUTHORITY
Google+ Best Practices
There are a lot of posts out there about Google+ best practices, but here is what I had mentioned in early 2012.
If you are reading this then I’m sure you have already read about how Google has recently stated people are “obsessing” over page rank and they need to get over it. There has been numerous posts about how Google hasn’t updated the page rank toolbar and doesn’t plan to anytime soon.
Personalized rank of content is already a primary element of Google’s search engine and will continue to become more prominent within Google’s search results over time.