Google+: What Does This Mean for SEO and Search Results?

Initial discoveries.

In a recent blog post, Robyn Schelenz wrote an article about “Search Plus Your World” and how search is becoming more social. Naturally, as online marketers, we’re interested to see how integrating Google+ profiles and pages will impact search results.

In the coming months, we will be testing different tactics to see how exactly our page and client pages will show up in search results and see what factors will make direct impacts. AJ Kohn from “Blind Five Year Old” does an amazing job of outlining SEO techniques for Google+ that I can’t wait to try out. I will report my findings to either arrive at the same conclusion as AJ or perhaps dispute some of them. (Look for updates in the future or add us on Facebook and Google+ to receive notifications.) In the meantime, we will discuss our initial findings on search results with Google+.

For this exercise, we searched the word “Fashion” to discover our initial findings about Google+ and SEO.

Search Results when NOT logged in
As a logged out user, obviously, no personal results will appear. However, it looks like Google will encourage users to participate in Google+. On the right side of search results, Google will show you “People and Pages on Google+” relevant to your search query.

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However, the results will differ each time you search for the same search query but only by a few pages and people. I refreshed a few times and these profiles/pages were listed most often and were the ones I analyzed:

• Coco Rocha
• Burberry
• Sarah Potempa
• H & M
• Vogue

The question is then, how can your Google+ profile/page appear in search results for specific search queries? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to conclude what influenced the results in that space, but here are three points that I’ve drawn.

• Interestingly enough, none of the actual websites were delivered on the first page of search results. Of course, this won’t always be the case for every search query.

• The more Google+ users that have your brand/company in their circles = more visibility.

It looks like all of these Google+ profiles/pages have a remarkable number of people who have added them to their circles. Each profile has at least 70,000 followers. As with any social network, it looks like if you have strong two-way interaction with your followers, you will be granted more visibility and it could influence whether your profile/page shows up in search results.

• Having the keyword throughout your profile won’t necessary result in your profile/page showing up in search results.

Every profile/page, with the exception of Burberry, had the keyword “fashion” listed either in the brief description, about page, and/or posts. However, each profile had the keyword “fashion” listed no more than 5 times. So, sorry folks, keyword stuffing won’t work.

Also, it seems like for specific search queries, these Google+ pages won’t even show up in search results. This was the case for Coco Rocha, Vogue, and Sarah Potempa.

The opportunity lies in having your Google+ page/profile appearing in search results for highly competitive, broad keywords even while your website does not. Hopefully, one day, we will figure out how to fully optimize Google+ pages/profiles to make this happen.
*P.S. Google’s video on “Learn how you could appear here too” won’t help.)

Search Results WHILE logged in (As a Google+ User):
As previously stated in Search Plus Your World, when logged in, you can now view personal results mixed in with other results, and it looks like Google will prioritize your personal results first.

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Another interesting observation is that Google seems to index your information quicker for personalized results. As a test, I shared a blog with the caption “Has to be one of my favorite fashion blogs out there,” and within seconds, it already appeared in my search results.

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How about someone who has me in their circles? I asked a friend to check her search results for the keyword “fashion,” and again, within minutes, my post showed up in her search results. We will try to determine exactly how many minutes it takes or if it’s instantaneous in a future post.

The take away from this tiny experiment is to write compelling content, and then, share that content. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but to write about something that other people care about takes time and effort. This is how you build an audience though. (Also, share videos and photos!)

As of right now, it looks like text match determines what shows up in personalized results. Meaning, if you are a designer and want to show up for the keyword “fashion” in your Google+ users’ personalized results, then, include the word “fashion” in your entry.

Also, Google+ is about discovering related pages and people. Again, Google will suggest Google+ pages and profiles for you.

Sure enough, the same profiles appeared:

Click to view larger.

As the Leverage SEO team dives deeper into exactly how Google+ will impact search results, one thing is for certain: Get a Google+ page or profile. Because the fact is, Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks and has already reached 90 million users. Take this opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and to get personal with your current and potential clients. As search becomes more social, you will want to make sure you’re part of the conversation.

Look out for future posts on Google+, and leave any questions you may have in our comments section below.

New AdWords Release: Ad Group Level Impression Share Metrics

As a foreword, have you ever used a word to describe something and you used it so much that it began to annoy all of those around you? Well, we have such a word… ‘Granular.’ The one word in our office which must never be uttered—I could get in trouble for just typing it!

Google has recently announced that beginning January 30, 2012, AdWords’s global advertisers will be able to get more gran…er… specific with impression share data with the implementation of ad group impression share metrics.

Previously, impression share data could only be accessed at the campaign level. This change will allow advertisers to make more informed decisions on which ad groups should receive higher budget allocations.  In addition to what ‘share of voice’ your ads garner, the new feature will also give insight into many other aspects. To include:

  1. Impr. Share: The percentage of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.
  2. Lost IS (Rank): The share of impressions lost due to your Ad RankNote that Lost IS (rank) will not be shown if you were at or near your budget for part or all of a given day (a.k.a. were “budget constrained”) during the date range being examined.
  3. Exact Match IS: (Search Network only) The percentage of impressions you received for searches that exactly matched your keyword divided by the estimated number of exact match impressions you were eligible to receive.
The above will be displayed in newly available columns that can be added to your ad groups tab.

Google will also be improving its algorithm to better capture this data. Thus, Google will update all historical impression share metrics back to March 2011, and all data prior to this will be lost. Google will update all impression share metrics once daily at noon PST to ensure the most accurate data possible.

We at Leverage believe that this new data will become indispensable in making budgetary decisions moving forward. It will also help to paint the competitive landscape for your business and give great insight into how competitve the market is for your keywords.

Boost Offline Revenue with PPC

With online ad spend predicted to exceed print advertising spend in 2012, it is clear that more and more businesses are recognizing the power of Internet marketing and its potential for generating revenue.  A recently concluded two-year study by the marketing analytics company RevTrax reaffirms the value of online marketing for businesses, even as it impacts offline sales and revenue for multichannel retailers.

The RevTrax study used cross-channel tracking methodology via online coupons with unique barcodes to track in-store purchases back to online paid ads.  Using this methodology, the study found that paid search resulted in an additional $6 of offline revenue for every $1 of online revenue generated.

What This Means
The online marketers are right.  We’ve preached for years how paid search has positive impacts on other marketing (online and offline) efforts and on organic search.  We’ve certainly suspected that paid search is a big driver of offline revenue too.  The RevTrax study goes beyond our own efforts of urging clients to ask where new customers heard about their brand and it confirms our suspicions in a more data rich and relevant way.

If you are a multichannel retailer, take a look at the ecommerce revenue that you’ve tracked from your paid search efforts, and consider how much more paid search may be doing for your bottomline beyond those revenue numbers.  Think of ways that your online efforts can be used to bolster offline sales via the implementation of paid search strategy, targeted landing pages, and special online offers for in-store savings.

Facebook Ads: Super Social Solicitation

The most recent development in Facebook Advertising is the controversial inclusion of Ads in the news feed. Facebook has been planning this for quite some time and it is now coming to fruition. This update allows for paid communication to appear directly in users’ main source of social information. These ads will be equivocally designated by a small notice in the bottom right corner reading ‘Featured.’ The format will be equivalent to Sponsored Stories (covered below), simply repositioned to a more visible, and probably more engaging, position. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Facebook, as there is already a surging clamor concerning the most intrusive placement by the social network as of yet coupled with invariable privacy issues that have plagued Facebook from the start.




The first step is creating a Facebook Page for your brand to interact with fans and customers. Ensure all pertinent information about your business is present and post regularly to entertain and galvanize both current and potential fans. Maintain an amiable and professional voice while monitoring your page closely, responding promptly and earnestly when users post on your Wall.


Page Insights


Evaluate the success and engagement of your page with the Insights data Facebook provides. You will be privy to user insights, including page likes, number of fans, active users, like sources, demographics, and page views, as well as interactions insights, including user feedback on activity and general daily page activity.  Monitor your daily and monthly fan volume growth, average number of likes and comments, and number of total page views. Refine your customer persona using extensive demographic data, reviewing what types of people are interacting with your brand and in what ways. Facebook recently updated data on Likes and Reach to improve the accuracy regarding audience location, which is important and useful information to marry with your location based strategies. Finally, the insights discovered will assist you in determining the efficacy of your Facebook advertising efforts, which go as follows.




Once your Page is set up and optimized, start playing around with Facebook’s simple ad creation platform. Consider your business objectives and goals for your campaign; are you primarily concerned with sending traffic to your website, amplifying volume of ‘likes’ to your Facebook page, or both? Whatever strategy you decide to pursue, design your ad to reflect it. Formulate an appealing title, useful body, and compelling image – imagery can make or break a campaign. You only have a very brief window of visibility and interest from the user, so make the most of it by being humorous, emotionally invoking, or aesthetically pleasing with your image.


You can then move along to targeting, which Facebook does as well as anyone given its immense trove of user demographic and interest information. Select your desired audience, exploring the vast amount of categories and classification options that Facebook allows. You can target millions or thousands of people depending on your respective awareness, sales, and fan base goals.


Similar to most paid search platforms, Facebook permits the setting of your own budget, so you’ll never spend more than you dictate. Of course, having a sizable budget will ensure that your ads are receiving plenty of exposure, and as your campaign progresses, you can evaluate and adjust budgets based on what is working. Valid billing information is requisite for your campaigns to begin running. Your ads manager will allow you to view comprehensive data, providing reports easily filtered by campaign, time summary, date range, and format. It will also display a host of metrics, including impressions, clicks, connections (likes), click-through rate, spend, and cost-per-connection.


Sponsored Stories


These are perhaps the most personal Ads on the internet. Sponsored Stories generates a ‘story’ about users’ activity with brand pages that surfaces on the right side of Facebook pages (and now in the news feed as well, as explained above). Eligible activity includes page likes, page comments, check-ins, event RSVPs, page question votes, app usage or game play, and website likes or shares. For example, if my Facebook friend Mark checks in at Subway, I very well may see an Ad notifying me that Mark visited Subway and that I should too (assuming Subway is running Sponsored Stories). This format is contingent on the organic activity that users have with your page, so utilize your resources deftly to encourage interesting story material.


Now you are infallibly equipped with incisive Facebook Advertising acumen. Never again will you have a shortage of friends.

Breaking News: New Feature in Google AdWords

If you’re like many advertisers, you jump at the opportunity to experiment with the latest and greatest feature available in Google AdWords. Who can blame you? Trying something new can be exciting and it just might improve your pay-per-click account. Although there can be benefits to testing new features, there are some steps that need to be taken to improve your chance of success as well.

Develop A Strategy

Before implementing a new feature in Google AdWords, you need to determine:

  • Does this make sense for your business?
  • Does this make sense for all campaigns in your account or only a select few?

The fact is not all AdWords features work well for all advertisers, so you’ll want to have a good understanding of what a new feature does and when it is appropriate to use before implementing.

Even if the feature seems to be a good fit, you may want to consider implementing it on only one or two campaigns rather than account wide.  This is especially true for features such as Enhanced CPC and Optimize by Conversions, which allow AdWords to change your bids or alter how frequently ad copy is displayed, respectively.

It’s also a good idea to avoid adding multiple new features at once.  Doing so can make it difficult or even impossible to determine exactly what caused the performance in your account to change.

Measure The Results

Google makes it easy to implement new features in your account, and at the rate new features are released, implement them often.  As you add new features, it’s important to have a plan for measuring what effect they had on your account.  For each new feature you add to the account, you should make a note of:

  • What feature was added.
  • Where in the account it was added.
  • When it was added.
  • How performance was before adding the feature.

You’ll need this information later in order to keep up with what new features you need to check on and whether or not they had a positive effect on the account.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to check on the performance of the new feature periodically, but it’s also a good idea to define a plan for determining whether or not to continue using the feature.  This can be a set duration, such as 2 weeks or 30 days, or once a certain amount of data has been accrued, such as 1,000 clicks or 50 conversions.

Most important is that you don’t set up a new feature and then not check on it at all.

Don’t Forget The Fundamentals

If you’re not getting the performance you want from pay-per-click, it’s unlikely that trying the newest AdWords feature is going to get you where you want to be.  In fact, it’s common for a new feature to produce only incremental gains at best.  The largest improvements in performance can almost always be achieved by improving the fundamentals in your account:

  • Keyword selection and match types
  • Account organization and campaign settings
  • Ad copy and destination URLs
  • Budget and bidding strategy

Google Gets Personal with “Search Plus Your World”

Welcome to Google 2012!  As of this week, Google has begun rolling out their new personalized search for users logged in through  The change to Google’s search results is called “Search Plus Your World” and it could have a great impact on your search results.  But is it as big a deal as some in the SEO space are touting?


Search Plus Your World presents a mixture of personalized, even private, results with the more generic results you would otherwise associate with Google.  Where you are used to seeing “about X number of results (X number of seconds)” below the search box, you will now see “X number of personal results and X number of other results (X number of seconds).”  You might also see personal information mixed in with the actual result listings.  For example, if I searched for “Fido” while logged into my Gmail account, I might see the normal list of sites along with images of not just any dog named Fido but of my dog Fido, or my friend’s dog with Fido, etc.  If you haven’t been using Google+ much, you probably won’t see a significant change—your Google Instant suggestions may be more personally oriented, but otherwise, your queries are not going to be affected.


For those that do have a high degree of integration with Google+ and other Google products, like the photo service Picasa, the change will be more noticeable.  You will see private pictures that you may not have shared with the world now pop up in search results.  Never fear—they weren’t suddenly shared and they’re not accessible when you’re not logged in.  If you find the personalization an unwelcome change, you can toggle between personalized and non-personalized results by using the new human / globe buttons visible in the right-hand corner of the page.


Twitter’s lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, is particularly irritated with this new development in Search, as Twitter results are excluded from the new personal / private results (Source: BBC). Some speculate that Google was hoping for a reaction like this and that “Search Plus Your World” is in part meant to induce Twitter and Facebook to share data with Google.  Possibly, but we are not quite there yet.


At the moment, this should have little effect on current SEO campaigns.  The update makes Search more social, but since it only does so through the still growing Google+, its impact is limited.  Plus, few queries are likely to have a big inbuilt social footprint.  If I am selling anything related to cats, the most popular animal on the Internet, then, perhaps I am wondering how this will affect my business.  Even in this case, the personalization thus far seems restricted to very specific keywords, like the name of a particular cat.  As another example, my own search for “Christmas” showed me a number of possible personal results below the search box that I could click on (as my social circle had been discussing Christmas), but did not appear to affect the ordering of the actual SERPs at all.


The moral of the story is a variation on the old cliché, “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”  This update will probably affect internet marketing more distinctly in the future but it certainly doesn’t change the importance of internet marketing.  If Google is now integrating the use of Google Plus and Picasa into its search and if Bing is currently integrating Facebook (and they are), then getting all your bases covered socially and otherwise is even more important.  It’s a direction that should reward SEO tactics and websites that look to please users and search engines—a user friendly site is more likely to be shared.  This new update ensures that SEO will be an interesting and invaluable marketing channel in the new year.