If you want your content to be found on the Internet, search engine optimization (SEO) is vital. Why? Overall, online searches drive three times more traffic to content sites than social media platforms.
And SEO doesn’t just affect website visitor volume — it’s also a highly efficient channel for inbound lead generation. According to HubSpot, SEO-sourced leads have a 14.6% close rate, more than eight times the close rate of outbound-sourced leads (1.7%).
What does all of this have to do with Google+? In the social media universe, Google+ has a unique marketing advantage: a direct impact on SEO rankings. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Understanding the Impact of Google+ on SEO
According to research from Searchmetrics, social signals account for seven out of the top eight factors correlated with Google search results, but Google +1s take the top spot.
In fact, Google +1s have the single highest correlation with Google search ranking (0.4), higher than than the number of Facebook shares (0.34), number of backlinks (0.34), and total Facebook Likes, Shares, and Comments (0.34).
Moz found comparable results in their biennial Ranking Factors study on the attributes of pages and sites with the strongest association with ranking highly in Google search results. The Moz Data Science Team first measured the correlation between Google +1s and Google search results ranking in 2013. They discovered that “after Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor.”
As with the Searchmetrics study, Moz founds that the correlation of Google +1s with Google search ranking “beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.”
Digital marketing consultant Jeff Sauer also conducted a fascinating experiment to understand the impact of Google+ activity and authorship on search engine rankings. Sauer created four niche websites with a varying levels of Google Authorship involvement and measured the impact on website rankings, controlling for all additional variables.
Sauer concluded that “Google+ has an immediate impact on SEO results.” Not only did Google+ shares provide a significant, lasting boost to search engine results page (SERP) ranking, but shares from an established account (like a brand account) provided the content with a quality ranking.
Given his findings, Sauer noted that “it will become more difficult to trust an SEO analysis tool that does not incorporate Google +1’s into their data front and center.” (Hint: TrackMaven analyses both Google+ activity and SEO metrics for you and your competitors. Learn more here.)
The data clearly show that Google+ has a tangible impact on search results ranking. Again, given the 14.6% close rate of SEO-sourced leads, there’s no denying that Google+ is a viable source of inbound leads. While some skepticism still looms over the future of the platform, Google has consistently stood behind the network, adding features like polls to the functionality in a continued effort to encourage use.
Takeaways and Conclusions
- Google+ interactions affect Google search rankings more than virtually any other metric.
- Cultivating a strong Google+ presence helps to drive organic site visits, which convert at a higher rate than outbound-sourced leads.
Simply put, Google+ is central to effective social media marketing. Not only does it provide engagement with diverse populations, but it directly affects measurable outcomes beyond engagement, including higher search results ranking.