Blog Post

Google Plus Shares Drive Discovery, Not Ranking [VIDEO & INFOGRAPHIC]


A few weeks ago, we posted a Daily Brown Bag video blog about whether or not Google Plus Ones create high search rankings. A study was recently released from Stone Temple Consulting that addressed this topic directly. The study found that Google Plus Ones actually don't have an affect on how high your content ranks in search results. However, there are still incredible benefits from sharing your content through Google's social media platform. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn more about the recently published study on Google +1s affect on search rankings, and the benefits of sharing your content through Google Plus.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to our video today where we’re going to be talking about how Google Plus ones affect search rankings and affect your indexing of content that you’re publishing. I’m Chad Hill, and I have Adam Stetzer with me today.

Good morning, Chad. This has been a hot debate, I feel like, for years, and a fun internal argument here at HubShout. What is, really, the impact of social media on rankings? Social media has come on the stage in the last five year, and everybody’s there. Here are a few stats. Of Fortune 500 companies, 77% have Twitter accounts and 70% are on Facebook. So, with that kind of presence and audience on the consumer side, it’s huge. Now, everyone’s been really eager to know what the integration points are between social media and making an investment in being active there, and what kind of impact that has on your rankings. There have been studies that have shown, or tried to show, that having active social media profiles actually directly and algorithmically effects how Google, Yahoo!, and Bing will show you.

Now, there’s a new study out in mid-September 2013 that’s causing quite a stir. This comes from Stone Temple Consulting, and they were talking about this and presenting it at SMX. Apparently, Matt Cutts was actually engaged in some sort of consulting capacity to help them shape the study, because what they were really trying to sort out were some of the false correlation conclusions some people have made and used to really try to establish causation. Bombshell, Chad, and you know I’ll say this quite smugly and with satisfaction. Apparently, Google Pluses do not drive any material change in rankings that they can detect. Again, that’s a very scientific study. They did find that Google Pluses help your stuff get discovered, help get it indexed, but they do not have any impact on rankings. So that’s a bit of a bombshell, I know, for the social media community who has been pushing this agenda for a long time. Does this mean that social shares really are not important?

No, I don’t think that’s what it means at all. In fact, they’re really important for two reasons. One is that, as you said, they’re not directly related to rankings, but they have an indirect impact because as you share the compelling, interesting information that you’re creating, you are building the audience for that content and then increasing the likelihood that someone will actually find it useful and link to it, saying, “Hey, check this really interesting post out,” or, “There’s this really interesting infographic out over here on my site.” As we know, that, in turn, as you build links to your website, builds domain authority, and that does increase the chances of your website ranking. So, it is still important.

That’s exactly right. So, there’s sort of the geeky side of this argument, and then there’s the practical side. From a geek standpoint, and I’m a scientist, I feel fulfilled knowing someone is saying, “No, the linkage is not there algorithmically.” But, I’ve had this argument with many resellers in our community before. You know, theres 343 million active users on Google Plus and nearly 700 million on Facebook, and as you said, if you can have an active following there, even though there’s no algorithmic impact of being very active directly, that’s the geek argument, there is this audience play that, if you can have influence, get to real audiences, get exposure, and get to share stuff, some of those people will pick it up, and will share and link it, and it will have an impact on your search rankings indirectly. I think that’s probably, in 2013, more important than ever given the changes we’ve seen from Google and the move towards content marketing. So, even though this is a bombshell, this may be a nonplussed finding, because you still need to do it ,right?

Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the things that actually came out of this as well is that Google is continuing to try to build. You’ve mentioned some of the numbers about Google Plus. It’s clearly in third place, behind Facebook and Twitter, and probably behind even some of the other social networks out there. But, one of the things that Google is continuing to try to do is use their position in the search marketplace to expand the usage of Google Plus. An example that we found when we were doing some research here was that one of the more recent changes they’ve made is that if you do Google a hashtag, and we know how people are about Googling, they Google everything, so even though hashtags are related to maybe Twitter, if you Google a hashtag in Google, what it’s doing is actually surfacing content in Google Plus that is related to that hashtag. Now, it’s also going to be showing other content, but again, one of the things you’re seeing here is that ability to grow your audience, and for Google it’s important for them to try to link their products, showing again that they’re linking Google Plus in with other parts of their services.

So again, the headline here implies that social media is not helpful for SEO, but really the final conclusion is that it’s more important than ever for indirect reasons. Google is sending out unnatural link warnings at a very rapid pace. They busted another blog network earlier this week, so the move to real SEO is really underway, and social media is one of your fastest paths to do that. We’d like to hear your feedback. Please subscribe to our videos, and share some of your success stories using social media to get rankings.

Comments (5)

  • scottjcamp Reply

    Google will slowly and steadily siphon off users from more and more "third party social media platforms" by integrating all of their best features in one place. With search engine and email as two of their strongest suits, they certainly have the opportunity to convert users to their own social media platforms.

    I have to admit - I've been using more Google services more often as they get better, and they've been integrating the best features across multiple platforms.

    09/26 at 02:22 PM
  • Jesse Reply

    I agree with Scott. Google's strategy is akin to 'death by 1,000 cuts.' They don't intend to maintain supremacy with a club over the head.

    09/26 at 02:35 PM
  • John Reply

    The # symbol is kind of like Prince, or the artist formerly known as Prince, that has now changed his name back to Prince on Twitter(too hard to follow a symbol I guess). Poor # went from number sign, to pound, to hashtag. Even # cant keep up.

    09/26 at 04:57 PM
  • Matt Reply

    If Matt Cutts was involved in the Study I find it hard to belive that he would lend his name to it if it was not accurate

    09/26 at 10:24 PM
  • Adam Reply

    Most of social media aids discovery, but not rankings directly.

    12/30 at 12:49 PM

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