Google+ but not as we know it and how the G+ break up affects your SEO

google-plus-breaking-up-2015Going, Going, Google+ Gone

Since Google+ was introduced it became one of the must haves to help boost your SEO. G+ and YouTube from Google gave website owners the optimum resource for search engine optimisation. No matter whether it was personalised search results you were looking to improve or gaining increased organic reach G+ was a key driver to get Google on your side and to build on SEO for your businesses. Anyone searching for terms would see posts in Google+ being posted in top spots and YouTube helping with video promotion was also part of the social move by Google. But all this is set to change with Google’s change to G+ and its reorganisation into:

  • Communication
  • Photos, and
  • Streams

The three new areas were announced by Bradley Horowitz, the new VP in charge of the changing face of Google social media. In a recent Google blog on 27th July, Bradley commented:

“When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes.”

And these changes are still in an embryonic stage and include:

  • A more focused Google+ experience
  • Moving Google+ Photos to the Google Photos app
  • Putting sharing into Google Hangouts
  • Using Google without a Google+ profile (hurrah!)

The move makes perfect sense because since G+ was installed in our mindset the general concensus was that it didn’t quite hit the mark of knocking Facebook or Twitter off their respective pedestals. It had some nice features, some confusing features and a lot of irritating features like not always being able to access other Google products without a G+ profile. With photos becoming increasingly important (e.g. Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram) the move makes sense and Google+ has seen a lot of pick-up in the image area. Google Hangouts has had a solid following and the move to breakout Google+ into streams signifies that Google has recognised that it has strengths but not the overall Social Media clout it thought it might achieve.

Changes to your SEO activities

Q: Should I ditch my Google+ business page?

Definitely not! You should keep your business page (and if you haven’t got one, then set it up now!) The “Google My Business” section of Google+ is still key to search results and allows you to add and verify business listings – these are the details that appear in organic search results and in Google Maps. You should ensure that you manage this business page to enter all correct business details, add up to date photos and videos – and to make sure that you stay on top of, and respond to customer comments.

 Q: Is it time to split my YouTube & Google+ accounts?

Again, not yet. On YouTube’s own blog they say:

“Do NOT do it right now or you’ll delete your YouTube Channel!”

Google+ has been a good tool for locating people with similar interests but in its new guise it will help ensure that the people are actually using it, and where useful, should help it thrive. Your activity on Google+ has been sharing itself across the platform and once the separation occurs (G+ split from YouTube) comments will only appear on your YouTube channel. This is great news as it should raise engagement on YouTube. At the moment comments include Google+ activity and these tended to go to the top of the comment section, which discouraged interaction as the comments just listed the activity of a video being shared – not a lot of meaningful feedback. Keep an eye on the split as you’ll need to make a positive change to split your G+ & YouTube channels to take advantage of the SEO gains of a focused YouTube offering.

 Q: How do capitalise on the changes?

Reading between the lines of the announcement and the focus on ‘Photos’ the clue here is that Google are still placing a major importance on imagery. This means ensuring that you are using images liberally across your website, when they add value and when they are relevant – just posting holiday photos on your business website doesn’t hack it with Google search! But also make sure that the images are setup correctly, tagged correctly and pushed to Google search with Webmaster tools and if used in a blog use blog posting indexes. So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following the SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO

How Google is handling SEO for new top level domains

Great News! New Top Level Domains (TLDs) avalable to boost your marketing – but what happens to your SEO?

top-level-domains-and-google-seoSince the new extensive list of TLDs (gTLDs) were announced there has been rumour upon rumour that Google is marking down your SEO if you use a vanity TLD or in one blog post that I saw, “Don’t use a new vanity TLD as Google will remove your site from SEO search and give a zero ranking!” Really? Will implementing a new TLD upset Google that much and kill your SEO?

In a recent blog John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google posted a comprehensive Q&A to put the record straight and to squash some of the more ‘outlandish’, scaremongering rumours. Here are the key highlights of the blog on new TLD’s and the impact they will have on your SEO… or not!

“With the coming of many new generic top level domains (gTLDs), we’d like to give some insight into how these are handled in Google’s search. We’ve heard and seen questions and misconceptions about the way we treat new top level domains (TLDs), like .guru, .how, or any of the .BRAND gTLDs, for example:

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search? 

A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

Q: Will a .BRAND TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?

A: No. Those TLDs will be treated the same as a other gTLDs. They will require the same geotargeting settings and configuration, and they won’t have more weight or influence in the way we crawl, index, or rank URLs.

Q: How are the new region or city TLDs (like .london or .bayern) handled?

A: Even if they look region-specific, we will treat them as gTLDs. This is consistent with our handling of regional TLDs like .eu and .asia. There may be exceptions at some point down the line, as we see how they’re used in practice.

Q: What about real ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) : will Google favor ccTLDs (like .uk, .ae, etc.) as a local domain for people searching in those countries?

A: By default, most ccTLDs (with exceptions) result in Google using these to geotarget the website; it tells us that the website is probably more relevant in the appropriate country. Again, see our help center for more information on multi-regional and multilingual sites.

 

So if you are moving to a new generic/vanity TLD you won’t necessarily have a loss of SEO – but remember Google needs to know what’s happening, just moving without following strict SEO rules WILL upset your current ranking. You can ensure your SEO is not hit by following these four basic steps:

  1. Prepare the new site and test it thoroughly
  2. Prepare a 301 table from the current to the corresponding new
  3. Configure the server to redirect from the old to the new ones
  4. Monitor and track the traffic on the associated URLs

 

Aside from TLDs you can read more about getting on top of Google SEO with our guide

To see other areas of website SEO check out these links:

► Learn more about ranking techniques with examples of client rankings and approaches: ‘How to be found in Google Searches

► Why Social Media is so important to SEO and Google: Using Social Media Profiles for SEO