Did Google Just Make You An SEO?

by · October 16, 201323 comments

If you’re an SEO Company you might have some inkling of what I’m talking about, if not, you soon will. The past month has seen some big SEO developments. The thing is, they can’t really be called SEO developments anymore. Social Search developments would be more apt, as they really are equally important to both practices.

October saw the release of Moz’s 2013 Future of Search report. For those of you unfamiliar with this report, this is pretty much the Holy Grail for SEO’s. This report combines the findings and research of hundreds of the best SEO practitioners in the world, to deliver an overview of what makes a search engine tick.

Basically, it’s a check list to search engine success. If you could somehow develop a strategy to miraculously conquer every single ranking factor in this report, I have no doubt there’d be no key phrase or industry you couldn’t conquer.

The thing is, this report churned out some pretty interesting findings. Guess what came out on top of the list as the number 1 factor most correlated with search engine success? (beneath page authority). It was Google+1’s.

Search Engine Correlation

What Is An SEO?

You might be wondering, what the hell is an SEO? SEO is the abbreviated form of the term search engine optimization, right? Well, that’s just SEO parlance. The term is used interchangeably to describe the actual process of search engine optimization, and to describe somebody who practices the art of search engine optimization, somebody who offers seo services. So an SEO is the equivalent of a social media manager.

Ah, right, context. Patterns might be forming in your head now. If you’re a social media specialist, you might have believed that up to this point the two were interchangeable practices, well, not anymore.

So, I’m An SEO Now?

Google+ is a social media platform, so it falls under the remit of the social media manager, right? A year ago I still would have agreed with you and said sure. Even the SEO Companies and SEO’s I knew weren’t fantastic at Google+ and were using it primarily for syndication and to boost their campaign with a few social signals. Now it seems to have gone completely the other way.

Google Plus

This is great news for social media marketers and small business owners. This development is effectively a big step toward empowering the small business owner and making him an unintentional SEO. Google’s goal has always been to provide the best possible user experience; recently they’ve aimed to do this by placing the focus on context, relevancy and trust.

Many small business owners use social media as a method of marketing and growing their business. This new development means that on top of the gains they receive directly from social media platforms, they are also going to be receiving SEO gains, which will in turn lead to more site traffic and sales for their business.

This is hugely powerful and I don’t think the gravity of it is still fully understood by many. A Google+1 is a social signal that is very hard to fake, it certainly can’t be manipulated in the same way as an SEO article, press release or any of the other older, out dated methods of link building.

How Do I Take Advantage Of This?

If you’re already a social media marketer or responsible for managing this area of your businesses marketing, keep doing what you’re doing. If you aren’t currently active on Google+, or don’t have a strategy in place, develop one and start reaping the rewards success on this platform yields.

SEO Companies or practitioners, if they haven’t already, are going to want to fully embrace this area of social. It can’t be treated as a standalone silo or an ‘add-on’ to an SEO campaign anymore. Unfortunately the two are very different arts.

Technical SEO requires logic and an analytical mind, whereas social success requires creativity and the ability to write awesome content. This means that generally you aren’t going to be able to excel at both.  My advice would be recognize your strength, and hire someone to handle your weaker area.

What do you think about the increasing importance of Google+ to a social search campaign? Connect with me on Google+ and let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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About James Thomas

James Thomas

James is the CEO of Square Social, a company that helps businesses grow using Social Search. Square Social use a hard hitting combination of social signals and search engine optimization to deliver an unbeatable return on investment. Contact James and his team here.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

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  • Kevin Payne

    From reading this post I’m wondering if the SEO industry will become non essential or not needed since so much emphasis is being placed on content and social media? Great article to say the least.

    • Dustin West

      The technical aspect of optimizing a website for search engines will never go away. Nevertheless, you bring up a good point because the old link building and keyword driven world is going away. However, if you are paying an SEO agency and they aren’t running your content strategy and social media strategy, then I’m not sure why you were paying them in the first place. Any quality SEO agency will have recognized the trends and already began shifting toward content marketing.

      In essence, you are correct. The SEO of years past is fading away. But the purpose of an SEO analyst has been and always will be to get one’s site appearing high in the rankings of the search engines. A good SEO analyst will adapt and change her methods to achieve that goal.

      • SquareSocJames

        Hi Kevin – thanks for your comment.

        Dustin – I have to say I agree with you here. Onsite SEO, or technical SEO, still plays a large part of the process and that will likely never go. As far as outbound SEO goes, Kevin, you’re absolutely right.

        J

    • http://www.toprankmarketing.com/ Lee Odden

      Perhaps for SEOs with static skill-sets or those that overemphasize superficial SEO tactics. Marketing performance optimization with search has been an integrated discipline for a long time involving all aspects of web dev, user experience, content strategy and promotion. There’s more to the story of modern SEO than keywords in title tags, links from other pages and having an optimized Google+ profile :)

  • http://www.stramark.nl/zoekmachine-marketing/ Wouter Blom @stramark

    Correlation is no causation. Although everyone is predicting and screaming that google+ and other social media will be a significant factor in the search results. At the moment it is NOT.
    Let me repeat and specify that: At the moment there is no direct influence in rankings by google+ for non personalized search.

    In personalized search there is influence. But then you already knew that person, and probably have visited his website before. In marketing sense it is the same. But from a technical standpoint it is not.

    • Herbie Westwood

      Hi Walther,

      Here’s a helpful resource on this topic: http://moz.com/blog/google-plus-correlations

      I agree that correlation is not causation, but instead the evidence I have seen from my experience suggests that G+ is so powerful not because it is a social signal, but because it is simply a link building platform that gets rapidly indexed. Lots of rapid indexed links = lots of visits by googlebots, which means higher rankings.

      I also disagree that in a personalised search that the searcher will already know you. personalised search is down to geographic location, not just G+ circles.

    • http://www.toprankmarketing.com/ Lee Odden

      Google wants more personalization for better ad targeting, so it seems the logged in search experience will only grow as an overall percentage of how users interact with the big G. If I was an information retrieval nerd, the interaction data from G+ would be too hard to resist as a search signal – whether it’s a direct or indirect. That said, I don’t take anybody’s pontification at face value. You have to rely on your own observations and data.

  • SquareSocJames

    Hi Wouter

    Correlation is not causation, but it sure is a hint – Edward Tufte

    In response to your comment, where’s your evidence for that? This report combines a tremendous amount of data to illustrate exactly the opposite of your assumption.

    With all due respect, you’re wrong.

    As far as I can see, all this is, is your opinion versus thousands of detailed case studies and research studies.

    While I welcome comments, please keep them structured and backed up with data if you want to argue against my own assumption in the interest of the other readers benefit.

    All the best

    J

    • Angel Oakley

      I agree – correlation is not causation, but there is writing on the wall and trailblazers see the writing on the wall and move to stay ahead of the curve…the shift is coming.

      • SquareSocJames

        Hi Angel

        Thanks for your feedback

        Agree 100% with you !

        J

    • Dustin West

      Actually, Wouter is correct. He didn’t provide a source for his claims. I will. Matt Cutts of Google. He said, “Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings.” http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2290337/Matt-Cutts-Google-1s-Dont-Lead-to-Higher-Ranking

      This doesn’t mean they won’t in the future, like the article you cited suggests. It means that at the moment, there is no direct influence in rankings by accumulating lots of +1s. From what I can tell, that is exactly what Wouter was saying.

      Here is an analysis of why that causation is so high for +1s. http://moz.com/blog/google-plus-correlations

      To quote Matt Cutts one more time, “If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.” I believe that is what the author of this article was getting at.

      • SquareSocJames

        Hi Dustin

        Thanks for your response, it’s well thought out and worded.

        In response.

        As SEO’s, I think we’re all aware of Matt Cutts reputation when it comes to commenting on the state of SEO. He actively dissuades SEO’s from doing pretty ANYTHING, but create great content. Which is the right strategy, but he goes about it the wrong way. Put simply, he lies, or at least bends the truth a lot.

        I remember this statement from Cutts, and it’s very typical. Notice he doesn’t actually provide ANY facts, figures, or take any solid stance on the matter, he sidesteps the issue yet again without making any clear statement and throws pie in the sky accusations around about ‘another SEO doing a future report that suggests the opposite’.

        Google are never going to tell you how to game their algorithm, that’s been Google’s stance from day 1. They don’t want articles like this going mainstream, as then every SEO company under the sun is going to try to game the system by building fake Google+1 signals.

        If that happens then they are back to square 1 and have the same problem on their hands they have with every single SEO development, from article marketing, to PR’s. They don’t want SEO to exist as an industry (at least the outbound link building element), which is a great strategy, because businesses shouldn’t look to game the system. They should look to produce GREAT content.

        However, the writing is on the wall. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but at the end of the day, they are just that, opinions.

        Correlation isn’t causation sure, that’s been brought up multiple times. But at this point the writing is on the wall and those SEO companies that want to remain relevant are already taking full advantage of the benefits associated with a strong Google+ following which allows them to generate +1′s on their content.

        Quite honestly I think being anti Google+ at this point is stupid and not beneficial for small businesses. The Future of Search report demonstrates the benefits to be reaped and I’m sure those of out there who are already implementing Google+ fully into our Search campaigns are seeing the rewards first hand. At the end of the day, that should be priority 1.

        When Matt Cutts publishes solid figures backing up his assumption, I’ll change my tone. But we both know that’s never going to happen because it simply isn’t true. Until then, don’t be taken in by unfounded anti social PR.

        Thanks for the well constructed post though

        Kind regards,

        J

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    I’m a folly if I don’t have Google+ account. Social search is the fad for online marketing and that’s how important establishing web presence through content, social share and connecting all your blogs to your Google+ account. To rank well you got to earn for it by creating shareable post.

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  • http://www.gastric-banding-surgery.co.uk geofflord

    My question is, what happens to all those visitors to your site or articles who dont have a google account and dont care less about google+1. Are google simply going to ignore them and not count them as “legitimate” visitors (or give them a lower score in the algorithm) simply because they dont give a hoot about Google’s +1 button ?

    My guess is that the “Big Boys” will simply employ an army of outsourcers on fivver to go and click millions of google+1 buttons on their already over-bloated millions of low quality articles to try to game the system yet again.

    Every time google tries to fix the search results they just annoy even more people and drive them away to other search engines !!

    I am a one man band with just a couple of small clients and it just infuriates me every time google makes changes….I spend weeks or months trying to do the right thing then here they (google) come again and I have to start all over again learning what i need to do to comply with the next set of changes…….

    I usually end up winning for a while then the “Big Boys” come along and learn how to cheat the system again, so once again along comes Google and we are off again in this insane circle…..ITS CRAZY !!!

    Geoff Lord

  • http://www.referralcandy.com/ Zach @ ReferralCandy

    It seems that Google has changed the game with it’s recent updates. But instead of thinking in terms of turning digital marketers into SEOs, it might be more accurate to say that SEOs are being turned into social media/ content marketers.

    For instance, now to optimise search engine results, you will have to get more Google +1′s and to do so, you will have to come up with great content.

    This is in line with Google’s public line of optimising search engine results by coming up with great content (which was mentioned in one of the other comments). Organising the world’s data indeed. Except now they may be taking it one step further and are actively trying to steer behaviour away from content spamming and towards quality content.

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