Google+ for SEO? Don’t Focus on Your Brand Page!

Google, Plus Your World was rolled out just over a week ago, and the online world has adopted the rallying call to get onto Google+ for the SEO benefits.

Multiple articles point to brand pages as the solution. Publications from mainstream (Mashable wrote “get your Google+ brand page into as many influential people’s circles as possible“) to niche (HelloBloggerz.com wrote “brands need to invest more time into promoting their Google Plus brand pages“) are misleading marketers.

The problem is, Google+ Brand Pages are not the ticket to SEO success. In fact, if you focus your Google+ efforts on your new brand page, you will miss the most important search benefits of Google+.

How “Google, Plus Your World” Works: A Brief Summary

Google, Plus Your World adds search results from your circles to Google’s traditional search results. To see SEO benefits from Google+, your site, pages and content need to become part of “Your Audience’s World” on Google+.

To maximize the traffic benefits, you need the Google+ account that shared the information to be an account your audience trusts. When this happens, you are in “Your Audience’s Trusted World”. This is the position that will improve search ranking and traffic.

Getting Into Your Audience’s Trusted World

There are three ways to get into Your Audience’s Trusted World. Each has its challenges.

1. Your Brand Shares Content With Its Audience
When your brand shares content, your brands followers will be more likely to see that content in Google search results along with your logo.

Brand pages for SEO benefit have three key challenges:

  • Developing an audience. There is no notification when you circle someone through your brand page (and hence no opportunity for reciprical follower development).
  • Brands are not people. Following and engaging with people is more natural than engaging with brands, particularly lesser-known brands that don’t already have a strong following that naturally will migrate to social media.
  • A brand’s recommendation doesn’t create an endorsement. Of course Ford Motor Company has shared information about the new Ford vehicles and Ford.com. In this case, Ford doesn’t have the necessary independence to to recommend a vehicle or a review.

Example: Included in search results for “best cars” because it was shared by Ford on Google+: Ford.com. Since it was shared by Ford (not a personal connection I would trust to have an unbiased view) this isn’t a recommendation I trust.

2. Your Employee Shares Content With Their Audience
Even if you have a well recognized brand, your employees are in more people’s circles than your brand page is. When your employees share your content, it will be in more of Your Audience’s Trusted Circles, as your employees have also established a level of trust with their connections.

Having your employees share your content presents its own unique challenges.

  • Process. G+ still offers very limited automation, so employees need to be notified and then manually share content.
  • Business and Personal separation. Many people separate their business and personal activity. Having employees share your businesses content may require changing corporate and employee culture.

How much further can employees reach?

According to Wikipedia, Ford has 164,000 employees. On Google+, Ford Motor Company is in 4,968 people’s circles.

The first 27 employees of Ford listed in Google+ search results (excluding Scott Monty) are in 9,923 people’s circles. Or put another way, just 0.016% of Ford’s employees can reach nearly twice as many people on Google+ as Ford’s brand page can, without including Scott Monty’s following of nearly 23,000.

3. Other People Share Your Content With Their Audience
Third parties have the greatest independence, their recommendation of your content will have the greatest influence.

You have complete control over your brand page and have considerable influence over employees. When you focus on other people, you need to rely on the same three keys to social sharing you should be using in other social channels:

  • Make your content easy to share. If Google+ is a key focus, you will want to experiment with the placement of the +1 button.
  • Create content that is worth sharing.
  • Promote your site and content to your audience.

In Summary

Can a brand page help? Yes, it certainly can. Some of the search benefits of Google+ Brand Pages were documented well before Google, Plus Your World was released. However, if your objective is to capitalize on SEO improvements using Google, Plus Your World, you need to get into Your Audience’s Trusted World through employees and independent sharing.

Your Turn

Does your Google+ strategy consider the role your employees play in the visibility of your company? Share your approach or opinion in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake) or Google+.

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  • http://www.ackermannpr.com Shane Rhyne

    Yes. Yes. Yes. The land rush to set up Google+ brand pages is completely pointless if it never does anything more than most brands Facebook page.

    I especially liked your point about the potential impact of a business’ employees. Even accounting for some overlap among shared followers, it doesn’t take many employees to generate a combined reach well beyond what a brand page can do. That’s a key element in transforming businesses into social businesses, I believe.

    On a constructive criticism note, have you considered adding a +1 button so that I can more easily share this with post with my Google+ circles?

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks for the comment and sharing it on G+, I appreciate it.

      Yes, I have considered a +1 button, it has been a vexing problem until today, with most of the sharing plugins I’ve tried somehow disagreeing with my theme, some even disabling the site. 

      Your comment made me redouble my efforts, at least for the moment there is now a +1 on all posts. Thanks!

      • http://mattiasgronborg.com/ Mattias Gronborg

        Indeed, it seems like some of the plugins have severe problem with the +1 button. I’m using AddThis and Digg Digg on my site today. I personally think AddThis is the best sharing tool today. I used your +1 button here now and it worked fine by the way. See you around Eric!

        -Mattias

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      G+ brand pages don’t have to do more than Facebook, given that G+ is essentially alone now in it’s ability to pass signal to SERPs. But, doing anywhere near as much as Facebook pages would be nice. Right now, G+ brand pages aren’t even as dynamic as LInkedin company pages. 

      • http://ideagirlmedia.com/ Keri at Idea Girl Media

        I gotta agree with @jasonbaer:disqus  here.  If we want shares it has to be engaging.  That happens via function.  G+ needs to give us some groovy toys to play with. :)

  • http://mattiasgronborg.com/ Mattias Gronborg

    Thanks for this great article. I like how you focus your point towards relationships. “You need to get into Your Audience’s Trusted World through employees and independent sharing”

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Mattias!!

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  • Florian Brandhoff

    Great article!

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  • http://twitter.com/dschulenberg Dara Schulenberg

    Thanks for applying logic to explain the new reality of G+ and search convergence.  I agree that focusing on quality content will drive more shares than hype and buttons!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Dara, thanks for the kind comment. Yes, and it will be interesting see how both Google’s offering and the SEO industry evolve.

  • http://phill.co Phill

    Good stuff Eric – thank you for sharing. 

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  • http://www.personalinjurydefenders.com/ Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys

    Yeah it’s not a ticket to success. But it is good to have your website at Google+, for future use, because we don’t know what Google+ can make to our site.

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  • http://twitter.com/davidbcrowley David Crowley

    Thanks–these points make good sense. My situation in sheer numbers is a bit different. I run a small nonprofit, Social Capital Inc. We are in more circles than I am personally, but it’s a bit misleading because a lot of that has come by being in a couple shared circles for nonprofits. If I had a way of pulling out those that have come this way, my personal circling would be bigger–so your points do apply!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks David, and congrats on getting the G+ community to help spread your non-profit through the shared circles, that is awesome!

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

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  • http://www.lifeshield.com/ LifeShield home security

    Thanks for sharing. We’ve been trying to figure out how to better optimize and use our brand page. 

  • http://www.manageyourleads.com/services/appointment-setting/ Appointment Setting Companies

    Google Plus is become one of the best considering point for the SEO factors which affect the search result ranking. I would love to try this information about the SEO.

  • SengHee

    Great article, Eric. Thanks.

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