For many online reputation management companies, the gist of Google+ is no more or less than this: It’s not as vital as Facebook or even Twitter, but it’s nevertheless imperative to maintain a profile, if nothing else for the sake of appearances. But that conventional wisdom is being turned on its head, as more and more SEO marketers and reputation management pros catch on to the real value that lies in Google’s social network.
And that value, of course, comes from recognizing that it’s not really about social networking at all. What makes Google+ so different from Facebook—and so crucial for SEO marketers and reputation management professionals alike—is the fact that it allows you to actively shape Google search results. Remember that Google—unlike Bing—claims not to factor Facebook and Twitter traffic into its algorithms. Google+, though, is hugely influential.
So of course, anyone with even a passing interest in online reputation management would be a fool not to figure out how Google+ can work for them. Here are a few quick tips.
First, remember that freshness matters. This is true in general, of course; fresh content factors into Google relevance. But it’s particularly important with a Google+ profile, because accounts that haven’t had activity in the past 72 hours are not considered to be, well, active. Thus, they won’t appear in the “Related People/Pages” section of the search results page.
Brand pages are more effective than individual profiles. They are given precedence in Google’s “Related People/Pages” section, to the extent that a brand page can rank higher than an individual profile even if it has only fraction of the followers.
Another thing that matters in the Related People/Pages section: +1’s. +1 votes translate into better rankings—and in fact, they matter a great deal more than comments and reshares, which simply aren’t as influential in determining the Related People/Pages rankings.
Google+ doesn’t only involve Google searches; it also involves searches conducted within Google+. There is a search box within the social network itself, and members can use it to seek people or pages who match the relevant search terms. To make sure a Google+ page or profile matches a particular SEO keyword, remember that the keyword must appear in one of these sections of the profile:
Other fields or profile sections will not register in Google+’s internal algorithm.
For online reputation management companies seeking to use these fields effectively, remember two things. First, the more fields use the keyword, the better; try putting the SEO term into a couple of different profile fields, from the list above, and see what a difference it makes. With that said, also keep in mind that these Google+ profiles are already drawing a lot of spam. Their usefulness might soon become increasingly limited.
Online reputation management professionals need to realize what a powerful tool Google+ can be, and how vital it is to remember that this isn’t like Facebook. Google+ actually changes Google search results, mostly through the power of the +1, which is reason enough for reputation management pros to master it.