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Understanding google+

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  • To start out the presentation I want to emphasize the importance of establishing the biggest difference of Google plus is the fact it is NOT another social media website. I will explain the differences and purpose of Google+ and how it relates to search and content strategies. This is the start to understanding the importance of the tool and how it relates to our web strategy.
  • A knowledge network? WTF is probably what you are thinking right now. I promise I will fully explain what that means, but to start off we need to take a look at Google search and the new way algorithms are written to address how results are served to users.
  • Google made a huge innovation in search when they created the Google knowledge graph to produce search query results for users. Google was no longer limited by stated facts and information that frustrated users and made it harder to find the information they were looking for. Now, the search database can learn from human behavior and how we interact with the content to establish relationships between facts and objects. No longer are results with no connection to what is search served to the user whose search behavior has been established.
  • With the customized search experience that is established with the Knowledge Graph, it allows users who are looking for specific information to find it faster. This creates a better user experience and allows for more content to be shared across the internet. The primary factors in the customized results are whether the user is logged into the Google network or not. If the user is logged in and has established their previous search behavior, then Google is able to utilize that information and create preferences that adjust the search results to what the user is looking for. The second piece to finding information faster is the use of previous search query data to establish relationships between objects. This is beneficial for all users logged in or not because Google takes into consideration local events and behaviors and adjusts results accordingly. This is why when you and your friend across the country is searching the same term, they will see different results on the search engine results pages than you do. The last thing that contributes to the new speed in which you can find information is the consideration of social signals taken into search results. What are social signals? They are Social data that is received by Bing and Google via Facebook or Twitter and other social media sites on how many times something is shared to a social network. But the social signals consideration doesn’t end there for logged in search users. If there is a piece of information that is relevant to a users search query that has been shared by a person in their social network, that result shows up higher in search results. The reason is that research shows that people are more likely to listen to recommendations from people they know rather than anonymous recommendations.
  • This slide demonstrates some examples of personalized search results appearing for specific search queries. The first arrow that you see is up in the left hand corner and shows that I am currently logged in to Google which makes personalized search possible. The next two arrows are pointing out the two gray person icons next to a couple of search results. These icons mean that these search results have been personalized to my preferences about my search query and also that these results have been shared by people in my social networks. One thing to note is that the personalized search results appear in the third and fourth place in the SERPs. This is important because we don’t know where these content posts would have appeared in SERPS without the recommendations from the people within my social network. This is valuable to me as a Google user because I am more likely to click on these results because I trust the recommendations of my networks.
  • So an answer summary to a search query is another effort by Google to provide information quickly and targeted to your search preferences. You can see in the example that I am logged into Google, I have typed in the Search Query “Mumford & Sons” and Google has created a summary of information about the band based upon my previous search history. These features are also available to non-registered users, but the results are not as customized for the user.
  • So the last enhancement that has occurred with the knowledge graph is the ability to get more information about the topics you are looking for with less search queries and also the ability to access more information with each individual search query. This creates a better search user experience and allows for people to get to the valuable information faster.
  • In this search scenario, you are working on a research paper on Renaissance painters so you type on the search query “Leonardo da Vinci”. So you can see that Google is automatically giving you a summary of information about the artist, but the search engine is also showing examples of his artwork as well as other Artists from this time period. The knowledge graph has learned that there are established relationships between Leonardo da Vinci and other artists from the Renaissance period. Thus resulting with one search query turning up results for other artists and gathering information for what could be your next search queries.
  • There are four primary contributors to the knowledge graph. 1. Being structured data - which are lines of code that communicate to search engines what content on websites are and how they related to the brand, product or object. For example when a phone number is listed on a website, a search engine crawler has no way of knowing that the series of numbers listed are a phone number. With structured data or rich snippets, you can enter in the lines of code into the header of a webpage and let search engines know that the series of listed are not only a phone number, but are also associated with a specific brand, location or even product. There are more than one structured data language available for webmasters, however Google recommends using the Schema.org markup language. 2. Public Input forums are forums that contain information about specific topics that are an accumulation of user input. They often have moderators, but moderators are not necessarily needed because of the constant monitoring of topics and citation requirements of the content to become verified. The most common examples of these are Wikipedia.com and Freebase.com. Although Freebase is not as commonly known to the general public, it was purchased a couple of years back by Google in an effort to compete with Wikipedia. Google has actively taken steps to ensure that Wikipedia is not always the number one organic search result for long tail search queries; however it isn’t working very well. Also, just so you know long search queries are when a search engine user chooses a keyword phrase rather than one keyword to search for relevant content -- typically because the long tail search will result in better results than using just one keyword. For example, a search on "resumes" will result in millions of pages while a search for "executive resume writers" results in a much smaller number of pages. A larger percentage of searches are long tail searches. I will show an example of this in the next slide because this piece of the knowledge graph ties into Google+… kind of
  • So this page is an example of where I get Nerd excited with the results so let me explain why. The first thing is to noticed that I have typed what is called a long term search query into the search box in the form of a question. Google realizes that I asked a question and has automatically produced the first result with the answer. So no longer is there a need to dive into multiple websites to find a verifiable answer to a question. Underneath the answer to the question is usually multiple sites where the answer can be found. This is one of the places you will notice that Google is utilizing Public Input Forums in their search results. The final place on the page that I want to point is after the brief summary of Andy Warhol you can see that Wikipedia is listed as the source of the information. HOLY COW! They really do pull information from the forums!Now you are probably wondering, why do I care if public forums are utilized, and to that I say, that is an entire separate presentation because it would take too long to explain.
  • So far we have covered the knowledge graph and its implications to Google Search. Now I am going to cover Google+ and its importance to the knowledge graph and search strategy.
  • I really don’t think I need to explain this slide anymore than just read it to explain the importance of Google+!
  • So in this presentation so far we have covered the knowledge graph, its purpose and how Google’s number one focus right now is personalized search to establish relationships between objects. So for Google+ to be the BIGGEST effort that Google has made in personalized search, you would think that this ‘knowledge network’ is a pretty big deal! Google+ is the primary way users communicate their preferences to the search engine. That is why it is so important to get as many targeted users who are advocates of your brand to add you to their “circles”. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow for the same interactions, and are extremely important for marketing efforts, but they restrict Google from accessing most of their data which ultimately limits their SEO effectiveness, however they still play a role in rankings.
  • The graphic above is what happens on the average when CryusShepard searches his name in Google. The experiment was done by Cyrus Shepard for an SEOMoz blog post that can be found at the link above. You can see that time and time again, Google+ has more results in the top 100. It doesn’t matter if a user spends more time on Facebook or Twitter, Google+ is almost always given more weight because of the access Google has to the data behind the social element of the platform. Now this is different from what we are looking to accomplish with Monsanto’s brands since we will be utilizing Pages and not profiles. Pages are the step children to profiles with the way Google gives weight in search engines. This is primarily due to the use of the Author Attribute that is being created for content authors. This is a featured that is rumored to be passed along to brands, but hasn’t been established yet.
  • The next series of slides are going to walk you through the Google+ platform and show some of the features that are important to a Google+ page and website strategy.
  • Getting started with a Google+ page for a brand is very simple and easy to execute. In order to start a page you will need a Gmail account that is already attached to a Google+ account. Google has been rumored to eliminating this requirement, but this hasn’t happened yet. The primary reason that has been circulating, is that Google wants to know who is managing the accounts associated with the brands to further establish the relationships of a brand to a website to a Google+ profile. This is done through the utilization of the same Google account across multiple platforms. The second part of starting a Page is the fact that you have to decide how to categorize your page. You have the options of local business, brand, company, entertainment or other. Since there is not an agriculture category, I have chosen to categorize Seminis and De Ruiter Pages as Brand – Brand because that is the most specific categorizing that still is true for the brands. The third piece of the Page creation is the name of the actual name of the page. It is simple to think that you should just use the brand as the name of the Page, but I suggest thinking with a little more strategy when deciding the name. For Pages within the Google+ platform, the name is the first place that is considered for ranking within Google+ and Google searches. So although it is easy to just put “Seminis” as the name of the page, it would be more beneficial to the web strategy to put “Seminis Vegetable Seeds”. This title utilizes strategic keywords that indicate to Google what the brand’s primary purpose is within the digital space. You need to make sure that this name does not violate and branding guidelines for the company before utilizing the name. The last part of creating a Page is to insert your website URL into the profile. This is an extremely important step and should be given more consideration than just inserting what you think it should be into the field. Some things to consider when entering in the brand website are: the length of the URL, no one wants to see a long URL with all kind of folders and navigation within in, my advice would be to use the shortest version of the URL that gets you to the landing page you desire, unless you have an amazing reason, the home page of your domain should be the URL used. Another thing would be is does the shorten URL have Webmaster Tools installed? When you created profiles in Google Webmaster Tools you can create a profile that contain the “www” and profiles that don’t. When entering in your domain URL, utilize the version that has a Webmaster Profile attached to it. By taking this extra step, you can easily verify the URL to Google, which is a step for verifying your whole profile which we will talk about later. The only requirement is that the Gmail account that is used with the Webmaster Account with the domain profile, has to be the same as the Gmail account that is used for the Google+ account.
  • All of the pieces that I am recommending you need for your profile are pretty straightforward so I won’t go into great detail about the individual pieces except to say that all the decisions that are made about the information that is shared need to be considered as part of the overall strategy. Now the Introduction of your page is something that needs to be optimized and thought out very strategically. The Reason? This is the one place where Google+ gets information about what your page is and what the content about the page could be about. It is important to utilize a keyword strategy as well as link to strategic to other websites. Google+ is the one platform that creates followed links from Profile information. So what does this mean? The websites you link to get link value from you Google+ Profile page when a link is created within your introduction. The more influential your Google+ profile becomes, the more value that is passed along to your site. How awesome is that?
  • So this is an example of an optimized Google Page “About” Section. Here is an example of an SEO company that offers services of all kinds but focus on Google+. I know it may be hard to read, but if you look you can see that there are multiple instances when anchor text is utilized within the Introduction section. (All the text in blue) You can find this profile at the link below, but I would recommend taking a look and reading through the entire section. They use a keyword strategy that doesn’t just focus on a single term, but terms that are interchangeable that search users could use to find their services. For example the primary keyword for this section could be “SEO” but they also make sure to include the terms Search Engine Optimization, Search, Paid Search and Marketing Strategy. That way this company can appear to a wider audience that might be looking for their services, but don’t refer to them in the same fashion as experts in the industry.
  • For some reason or another Google has put more weight to Google+ profiles than Pages. This could be that profiles are a lot easier to verify, so therefore that appear more often, or it could simply be because people produce content and make relationships and not brands. Whatever the case might be, it is crucial for Pages to get as many highly influential people in their circles as possible to increase the overall weight to the page. The more people that are in your circles and the more people interacting with your brand, the higher and more likely your brand is to rank in search results. Google is moving towards real-time search results and currently have that functionality within Google+. With that said, regularly updating content is of the essence for brands who want to consistently keep their rankings high in SERPs. If a Google+ page is properly executed, then it should have a content strategy that compliments all the other marketing initiatives that are occurring simultaneously. Google is a way to get your content pushed out to a wider audience on steroids. Not only does it provide a place to broadcast your content to interested readers, but it also is one of the fastest ways to get your new content indexed by Google. Tests have shown that content shared on Google+ have been indexed and appearing in SERPS in a couple of hours which is different from traditional crawling methods that could take up to a couple of weeks! For verifying your Page and Profile, I am going to walk you through a couple of examples.
  • This is a prime example of a verified Google+ Page in SERPs. Gucci has met all the requirements with their Google+ Page by following these steps 1. The page has to be authorized by the commercial entity 2. The profile must have a link to your organization’s website 3. Your organization's website must connect to Google+ and Finally the Page must have over 1,000 people who added your Google+ page to their circle. Now the example SERP that you are looking at is a verified Page that I have not added to my circles. When a brand has been added to your circles, the search results become more personalized to the items you have interacted with on Google+. Looking at this SERP you can see that Gucci has all the first several results covered by being first in the paid placement, the first in organic results and by finally having a link to their Google+ page appear as well as their most recent post that has been shared. So not only has Gucci been able to increase their rankings with Google+, they have been able to add multiple calls to action that would not appear in SERPs otherwise.
  • So I think we all know this person that I have entered into the search query above. Janice is a prime example of someone who can benefit from Google+ because of the large amount of content that she generates on a regular basis. So in this SERP you can see that her website is still the first organic search, but there are still quite a bit of spam results that don’t have anything to do with her blog and what I am looking for as a user.
  • Now look at my results after I have added her to my circles and have established with Google that I am interested in who she is and what she has to say. You can see now that SERPs are showing all of her social networks that she belongs to, as well as that ever-so important box that has a link to her Google+ profile, a brief description of who she is and shows one of her most recent posts to her blog and images that have been associated with her profile. Something else I want to point out is the gray man icon that is next to the three first results. That represents that those first 3 listings have been personalized for me as a user simply because she is now added to my circles on Google+. You have seen what this can do for Janice in search results, now just think of what this could do for our brand! All of this was done through a user simply adding someone or topic they were interested in to their circles.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Understanding Google+ The Importance of the “Knowledge Network”
    • 2. Google+ was not created to compete with Facebook or other social media platforms. Google+ is not a social network, it is THE Knowledge Network!
    • 3. What the HECK does that mean?
    • 4. Google’s Knowledge Graph • It is a comprehensive non-public rooted form of data gathering. It doesn’t just gather facts, but also maps out the relationships between objects. It is tuned primarily by what users search for and what people find out on the web.
    • 5. 3 Main Search Enhancements 1. Find The Right Information Faster • Logged-In Results • Previous Search Query Data • Social Media Signals from users and their network
    • 6. 3 Main Search Enhancements 2. Get the Best Informational Summary • The Knowledge Graph establishment of a relationship between objects
    • 7. 3 Main Search Enhancements 3. Go Farther and Broader with Search Queries • Show more relevant information with less search queries • Anticipate user’s next search queries and show you the answers before you search
    • 8. So What Plays Into the Knowledge Graph? • Structured data • Public Input forums such as Wikipedia and Freebase.com • Google search query data from all users • Google+
    • 9. So Why Should We Care About Google+?
    • 10. In July of 2012, Brands saw an increase in organic search traffic on average of 42.6%!!!!!
    • 11. In a nutshell, Google+ transforms search for users by communicating connections, interactions and activity you have on the platform. IT IS THE LARGEST PERSONALIZATION EFFORT EVER ATTEMPTED BY Google!
    • 12. So Let’s Experiment! http://www.seomoz.org/blog/tips-to-use-google-for-seo
    • 13. You’re on board with Google+, now where to start?
    • 14. Getting a Page Started: • What is Required: – Gmail Address that is attached to a personal Profile – An understanding of whether your page should be categorized as local business, brand, company, entertainment or other – Name of the Page – Website
    • 15. Getting a Page Started • What you Need: – Profile Picture – Cover Photo – Introduction (Info about your brand) – Contact Information
    • 16. https://plus.google.com/u/0/105091680524136911230/about
    • 17. Things to Note for Pages • Pages seem to be second class citizens to Profiles on Google+ from a search standpoint. • Brands that have not shared content within the last 72 hours do not show up in search results. • Google loves verified information so take the extra steps to verify all information put into your Page info.
    • 18. The Importance of Circles
    • 19. The Importance of Circles
    • 20. So What Are Circles? • Circles allow for users to share content or filter content from only specific users who have been separated into different circles
    • 21. Other Features • Explore • Events • Communities • Local • Games • Hangouts