Posts tagged Google Plus
Posts tagged Google Plus
The top section of this image shows how Google represents this business’s details when the pin on Google Maps is clicked. The lower section shows the representation of the same business on their Google Plus page.
The highlighted links, despite appearances, are to the same destination web page. Are there any implications from this behaviour?
I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts, but is it just possible someone might see the shortened web address and write it down for later?
Just in case anyone thought the map in the previous check Google Maps post was some sort of aberration, let me try to change your mind. Take a look at the image above.
The starting map at the top is perfect. It shows (or would if I hadn’t pixelated it out) the name of the company and their address. Some potential visitors may need directions to the business so will use the facility on the larger version of the map available using the “View Larger Map” link.
When I tried it, it highlighted a block of apartments rather than the business. The apartment block is in the correct suburb (an improvement over the example in my previous article about checking Google Maps). There is a marker for the company on map B (look for the green arrow) but it is not otherwise highlighted. Even the “Get directions” link on the small format map doesn’t load the company’s address. This is confusing.
Compare that with the B map. This highlights the company correctly (even shows their Google Adwords ad). And for good measure the Get Directions option pre-loads the correct address, which makes it simple for the visitor to type their current address and get the details supplied by Google.
To get the B version of the map, I visited the company’s Google + page (a link is on their website) and clicked the address. Nothing exotic.
This reinforces the message - check everything, including the external services you show on your website. Have you checked your map lately?
There isn’t much room in the middle.
Recently, I came across SEO related quotes from two different sources, that made me stop in my tracks wondering if I’d stepped into an alternate SEO universe. Here are the quotes …
.. What about the “duplicate content penalty”?? This is where Google does not display more than one version of the same copy in its results. BUT – Google still indexes the content AND it still counts for backlinks!!
"Some SEO experts still believe that Google plus is not going to make drastic changes in search results. The reason is that several other social networking components are already working much before and hence Google’s recent entity cannot make a substantial impact at present. The Facebook and Twitter are well established and their presence cannot be ignored very soon. Therefore an early prediction on the effect of Google plus on SEO is not possible now.”
Let’s see if I can clarify my position on these issues.
Duplicate Content Penalty
Duplicate content is any significant block of text found on multiple web pages, possibly the same domain, but more typically, on separate domains. Google seeks out and respects unique content, as this is most likely what searchers are looking to them to provide. The last thing Google wants to present is multiple sites displaying identical content. As for the penalty for this offense, I think the suppression of one of the duplicate pages from the index is the minimum penalty possible. Other options at their (Google) disposal is removal of both offending pages from the index and the removal of one or both sites from the index. I think it would be a brave or foolish person to assume Google will pass link value from any page or site removed from the index.
The extent of the penalty will probably be determined by the extent of the transgression. It seems unlikely, a single instance of a cloned page will be seriously penalised if detected. An automated process to send content to multiple domains is much more likely to incur a site wide penalty. What’s not certain is which site will be penalised.
The page that caught my eye proposed automated posting across platforms. Specifically cloning posts from Posterous to Tumblr and possibly other hosted blogging platforms.
For the record, I don’t think there is any risk in sending an excerpt from a blog post to a Facebook page or tweeting the post’s title to Twitter, and incorporating a link to the full post. This is one of the valid ways of utilising these platforms. Nor do I think there is anything inherently wrong with the use of those specific blogging platforms or any of the alternatives available. Quality content on any platform is always rewarded once indexed.
Perhaps the writer has modified his / her views since publication (August 2010). If that’s the case, it’s a pity an update wasn’t included.
Impact of Google Plus
Yes, Google Plus is young and other social platforms definitely have a head start and significant numbers of regular users. But to think Google will ignore the social signals emanating from this source that they built is foolish.
This not to say Twitter and Facebook will fall in significance or that the value of social signals they generate will lessen. However, Google Search has a fast path to the Google Plus data. One of the first voices I can recall talking about the impact of social signals on search results was Christopher S Penn back in June 2011. At that time, G+ was not generally available, so it’s not surprising he didn’t mention Google Plus specifically. However, the role of social signals was clearly in the sights of this thought leader, as it has been for many other significant voices in the intervening period.
Does this mean everyone should immediately jump on board, perhaps at the expense of other social media channels? Every enterprise has to make that decision for itself. The decision will come down to effort versus reward and where the majority of its target audience found.
But choose wisely. Search traffic is a lifeline for many businesses. Any opportunity to increase ranking needs consideration.
Perhaps I’m misinterpreting the statements on these sites. Maybe these opinions are pushing the boundaries of SEO thinking. A reasonable objective. But that’s not my impression.
The ideas expressed do not sit well with me. SEO is black magic for some, and misunderstood by many. Most website owners rely on SEO professionals to guide them through the maze. I’m concerned someone will take these opinions as mainstream views and attempt to implement them to their detriment.
A recent post by Valerie Maltoni (aka Conversation Agent), http://www.conversationagent.com/2011/11/googleplus-pages-for-brands-and-businesses.html. started me thinking. Her discussion addresses Google Plus specifically, but the same logic applies to the already established major social platforms - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A lot of her logic on the need for a Google Plus presence is based on the existing relationship most of us have with Google (it is still the dominant search platform) and the leverage that provides to Google Plus. The increasing importance of social signals in influencing search rankings in the continuously moving landscape is not something we should ignore. Google Plus gives Google Search easy access to this set of signals.
Google has enormous strength, vision and resources and they may well make Google Plus a significant social platform. Even if this doesn’t happen, Google is leveraging a change in the social landscape as both Facebook and Twitter make changes to their offerings to compete with some of the innovations that Google have introduced. None of us are well served by major entities who operate without significant competition.
I am not attempting to argue the case for the long term survival of Google Plus or offer an opinion about the need for businesses to create a presence on it. I am more interested in the broader discussion of why a small business would make an effort to participate in any, some or all of these platforms.
At the micro level, most businesses with an effective website might be safe enough for now without proceeding to social media provided none of the competitors break rank and join the social party. An early adopter may gain a significant advantage if they implement a strategy that connects them with a large portion of their market pool.
More generally, we know social signals and social content are playing an increasing role in search results, and not just Google’s. While the relative positions of local, small scale competitors may not vary significantly in the search results, those same results may be infiltrated by largely irrelevant social noise or larger competitors with well developed strategies. This could make it difficult for an individual business to be found.
Google has demonstrated an interest in localising results. This may give some protection to small local operators, but it may be insufficient. Even the ultra small businesses, the so called mum and pop stores, may need to develop a social strategy to hold their market share. They also need to ensure their location signals (e.g. Google Places) are loud and clear.
How that social strategy will look for these small entities is unclear and will be constrained by their capacity - time and / or revenue - to participate. However, it seems increasingly important to start planning for that eventuality.
So to answer the question in the title - your business may be at risk if you don’t.
All the good SEO conferences are either in USA or cost lots of money or both. So most of my conference research comes vicariously from reading blogs and pretty much any other source I can find.
Whenever I read opinions of what Google is doing, I like to bring it back to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769). In their Quality section, the first, and I think probably the most important, is “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”
One of the recent posts I read was a set of published notes from a recent PubCon (PubCon Vegas 2011). The post was PubCon: Latest SEO Topics & Trends with Greg Boser.
The 3 points made to the participants in this presentation were:
There is nothing here that contradicts the Google guidelines. In fact, I think, they are very much in the spirit of the guidelines and are definitely worth paying attention to.
Of course, if you have been working to the guidelines, the only possible surprise might be the inclusion of “Human Engagement Signals”. Or perhaps that’s not the surprise it may appear. How will this engagement be assessed?
One of the probable signals will be links from the Social Media streams (Facebook, Twitter and Google’s own channel Google Plus). The challenge for Google is to follow the links from the streams back to the website and the assessment of the “theme” and intent of the interaction. We’ll leave the hard stuff to Google. Our job is to ensure there are signals and at least a few breadcrumbs on the trail to help Google along the path.
For many this will be all too challenging. Find a trusted advisor (hint: think MidBoh] and talk through the ideas and options available. It’s your business and you have to be comfortable with the strategies you implement or are implemented on your behalf.
Google recently added Business Pages to the feature list of Google Plus, their Social Media offering. While, there are still some issues that need to be resolved (like allowing multiple administrators), the early indications are good.
There are a number of reasons I have elected to establish a Google Plus Business Page (G+BP) now.
The challenge with this, as with all such ventures, is finding the time and the content. For now, posting to G+BP will be a minor element of the Midboh social strategy.
Please feel free to stop by at http://midboh.com.au/+ to check it out. It would be good to hear your experiences with G+ and any comments you have about the way we’re using it.