Why You Can’t Ignore Google+ for Local SEO and Social Media Marketing

google+ logoGoogle+ now claims more than 300 million active users every month, boasting more than 58 percent growth over the past few months, according to USA Today. Although Google+ has a long way to go to match Facebook’s 1.19 billion monthly users, its rapid adoption rate and sprawling community makes it clear that Google+ is not merely another social network nipping at the heels of Facebook and Twitter. Google’s social centerpiece has become a powerful social tool for marketers and businesses looking to increase their brand values and expand their visibility.

Personally, I find Google+ to be less noisy with a higher quality of professional level engagement and features like Google Hangouts On-Air and its photo sharing features that make it more attractive than other social networks.

But, even more importantly, the Google+ social network has several features that deliver significant SEO value beyond what other competing networks can provide:

Google+ Authorship Creates Social Authority

Google authorship is a search ranking concept that aims to stratify content and web pages according to the credibility and authority of their authors. With Google Authorship, content creators use small bits of code to attach a page to its author. But in order to do this, you need to have a Google+ account.

For this reason, a Google+ account can bolster your credibility online—not just within the Google+ network, but in search rankings as well. Thanks to Google Authorship, as your credibility grows, as measured by your clicks, followers and other variables, content can become more prominent online by having your name attached to it.

The ‘Like’ Button That Boosts SEO

Facebook has its “Like” button, Twitter has favorites, Pinterest has re-pins. But none of these directly affects the SEO of your content. This is where Google’s +1 feature is so valuable. The +1 button can be easily integrated into any web page or piece of content, and Google’s search algorithm uses it to assess the quality and popularity of content. Each time you receive a +1 from another Google+ user, your SEO ranking improves. As a result, users are rewarded for creating content that is valuable to their followers and the benefits go beyond what any other social network can provide. We call this earning authority the old fashioned way, and Google agrees. Because it’s fueled by authentic value, this kind of quality content that people want to share is the only sustainable social media marketing strategy.

Generate Feedback Through Community

For all its value in affecting SEO rankings, Google+ is still an effective platform for engaging consumers and generating feedback to improve your overall product positioning and awareness. For example, you can set up Google+ Communities to create spaces where you and your customers meet and exchange ideas, information and other comments. Similarly, you can join communities on the network and make new connections with other professionals, gathering new ideas and possibly some valuable business connections. This opportunity is somewhat analogous to LinkedIn Groups, but the added SEO benefits and a more rapid growth rate would seem to give Google Communities an edge.

This kind of community-based engagement can take more traditional text-based forms, or in multi-platform media. Google+ facilitates video-based engagement, which is where it differs from most other major social networks. Of course, this increases the demands placed on your Internet connection. Managing your social media efforts requires a fast Internet connection, and it’s particularly important with Google+, where media-rich content is widely used. If you plan on streaming video to run Google+ Hangouts, you’ll need a fast connection to make sure your video doesn’t skip.

Google Product Integration

As most people know by now, Google offers a wide array of products and services for businesses and consumers (from Gmail, AdWords and YouTube to Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Local and more). Most of these are available for free. What they do require, in many cases, is a Google+ account—at least to access all of the features of these products. The good news is, Google does not require a Gmail address. Your Google+ information can follow you wherever you go (including via Authorship as discussed above), simplifying processes and helping various Google products deliver better services.

With Google Maps, for example, your Google+ profile can establish your default location, recall your search history and display saved map routes. In a similar way, your Google+ account can and should also be integrated with your YouTube channel (you have one, right?) YouTube integration and connectivity is yet another benefit of Google+ participation; and one that can be expected to expand over time. 

Likewise, every local business (businesses with an actual physical location), in my opinion, MUST have a Google Local listing. Not to do so is leaving money and web traffic “on the table.” 😉

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FYI, ComBridges is currently adding capabilities to enhance local SEO listings and social media integration across 50+ local web directories including Yelp. Please use the form below if you would like more information:

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Also, thanks to Sidney Peters for his writing assistance in crafting this post. Sid is a UK transplant who develops apps for social networking sites. He is also training for a marathon.

 

Why I Embrace the Morphing Medium of Internet Marketing & Benefit from Major New SEO Trends

I’m increasingly enjoying my role as an Internet marketing strategist. Yes, of course, I delight in making a difference by helping businesses sort out how to produce the best results for their particular brand of enterprise. But, it’s also fun to dance with such a lively partner. 😉 Marketing Strategy signYes, Internet marketing is a lively medium. And, what makes it especially lively is (now and for the foreseeable future) it is a constantly moving target, a morphing medium, and a communications environment where change is not only constant. It must be embraced to be enjoyed.

I’m “all in” because it’s my sincere pleasure to stay out in front of the latest changes. For that reason and in order to try to be helpful, I think it’s time to update you on a couple of major developments in the world of online marketing and search engines in particular.

Next Generation SEO Social Signals

As I wrote several months ago (see “This Ain’t Your Mama’s SEO“), search engines are placing increasing importance on “social signals,” indications such as links, likes and +1’s via posts in social media that indicate real appreciation for your content.

I have also long encouraged participation in Google’s social network, Google+ (and if you want more information about how your business can benefit, visit their business pitch page). I even spelled out why I think Google+ is important in my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.”

Now, especially when it comes to the all-important Google search results, one social signal has risen above the rest. The latest leading edge social signal is getting Google+ posts with links to your content (blog posts or whatever) to receive +1’s (Google+’s equivalent of a Facebook “like”). In two recent research posts that included reputable analysis of what helps your content rise to the top of search results (something that every marketer wants or should want), the Google +1 has become arguably the most valuable and important search ranking factor, rising even above unique IP in-bound links!

In the Moz.com post, 2013 Search Ranking Factors, the +1 is second only to “Page Authority” to which +1’s are a contributor and which, in any case, is not a specific strategy but more an indicator of success for your page’s online visibility. In the Search Metrics2013 SEO Ranking Factors study, +1’s came in well ahead of another social signal, Facebook Shares. This social signal came in as the #2 ranking factor, but it’s worth noting, I think, that a +1 is just a click and thus easier to get than a share which requires more effort and usually a comment.

In any case, there can now be little doubt that one of the most important things you can do to gain search engine visibility for your web pages is to get people to +1 them on Google+. Of course, this speaks once again to the requirement that you create high quality content that people will actually WANT to share (more on that below). And, if your business is not actively posting (and promoting) its content on Google+, what are you waiting for?!?

SEO Beyond Keywords: Think Pages that Build Topical Authority

Beyond the rabid conversations about “branding” is the more fundamental, at least in SEO terms (pun intended), of building an authentic topical authority—that is an authority that is focused on a specific, relevant topic. This kind of content can be highly regarded by search engines based on its quality, especially when that includes your marketplace’s support via social signals (i.e. Google+ +1’s, Facebook shares, and the like. 😉

In the old days of search engine optimization (SEO), it used to be all about keywords and links; and don’t be fooled, these things are still very important. But another important development in the world of SEO is that Google has recently made clear that it is no longer sharing the data that it used to share regarding which keywords are bringing traffic to your website. This report found inside Google Analytics, for example, is now showing “(not provided)” and has become a major buzz in the Internet marketing world. Among many other posts, for example, here’s Search Engine Watch’s post, “What ‘(Not Provided)’ & Google Hummingbird Mean for Small Business SEO.”

Recommended Reading & Here’s Why

My best practice recommendations are reinforced by the more Big Picture approach taken in the excellent Moz.com post by Ruth Burr, “What is SEO Now That Everything is (not provided)?” I offer this link as a personal suggestion for “recommended reading.”

I like it because she moves the strategic conversation beyond the more common attempts to rank pages for specific keywords. Rather, Ruth focuses on the more meaningful objective of building authority around specific topics. Again, of course, this includes relevant keyword phrases, but it takes a broader and longer term perspective in order to deliver a more more valuable approach. It does this through a foundation of sustainable building blocks like links from credible sources and social signals that may or may not be keyword specific. Ultimately, it’s the relevance of the source not the link text that makes the biggest difference.

As she says:

The real killer of the keyword-driven approach isn’t (not provided), though. It’s Google’s increasing devotion to semantic relationships between topics and entities on the web. Author Rank, personalization, and the Knowledge Graph have added new elements to consider: Now, in addition to what your content says and who links to it, Google also cares about who created it, what else they’ve done, and who’s shared it. (my bolds)

From an Internet marketing strategy perspective, this means, as Burr says, “we need to shift our focus from getting traffic from keywords to getting traffic to pages.”

There is just no getting around the requirement for well-focused, high-quality content that is relevant and valuable for your market niche.

And so it goes. Change is constant, and I see no alternative to embracing the adventure.

I’m happy to help, and I look forward to your comments and feedback as well as to any opportunity to be of service to you and your company.

This Ain’t Your Mama’s SEO. Tuning Into “Social Signals” and More.

Anyone who pays attention to search engine results—which is pretty much anyone who does any kind of search engine optimization (SEO) or Internet marketing—knows that the world of SEO is changing rapidly. Even big time properties like NYTimes-owned About.com have publicly confirmed precipitous drops in traffic because of Google’s most recent updates to their algorithms (called “Panda” and “Penguin”). And more of these changes are coming from Google very soon.

The Changing Face of SEO Strategies

We all know that change is almost always challenging, and I know that many of those who dance around the edges of Internet marketing frequently back off due to completely understandable experiences of overwhelm. There’s just so much going on. But that doesn’t change the fact that it really is a “brave new world.” In all honesty, I can only promise more changes at an accelerating rate.

The (hopefully) good news is that I’m here to bring you up-to-date and to help if I can. So here’s the latest:

Expanded Influences: Beyond On-Page and Off-Page Factors

In my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know” (which I am now referring to as “The Essential Primer on Internet Marketing”), I break SEO, or search engine optimization, down into two main areas.

Briefly, the first area is On-Page Factors. These are things you can do to your web pages, from its content to things like HTML <title> tags, and much more.

The second area, Off-Page Factors, are probably more important and provide influence to search engine rankings based on the links TO your site and its pages from other websites. Search engines consider the willingness of other reputable websites to link to your site as a kind of “vote of confidence” that essential boosts its credibility.

While I’m just skimming the surface of these two components of SEO, the big news that I am reporting here—to those of you who don’t monitor this space in a professional capacity—is that there is now much more to SEO than On-Page Factors and Off-Page Factors. This is increasingly so, and in the spirit of the Big Data trend, there’s no question that this world will continue to become increasingly complex.

In order to keep this single blog post digestible, if not bite-size, I’m going to provide a high-level overview of the new components of SEO and offer links that deliver what I consider to be a valuable in-depth illumination of these new SEO factors.

Welcoming Social Signals to the Internet Marketing Mix

The biggest new ingredient is called “social signals” and it’s where the social media explosion meets the world of SEO. Just as search engines have used links as Off-Page Factors to determine a website’s influence, Google and the other search engines are now using you and/or your company’s social media activities including re-tweets, comments, likes and shares as indicators of your site’s value, especially as it relates to the keywords being searched in areas relevant to your expertise or market.

For more on this I recommend this excellent overview of the meaning and importance of social signals from SEOmoz: 
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/your-guide-to-social-signals-for-seo

You may also want to check out this thoughtful SlideShare, The Future of SEO from Rand Fishkin:

At the end of the day, it’s all about quality content

There’s no question that this is a moving target. But the good news is that Google is being consistent in their approach. They do their best to penalize those who try to manipulate search results, and they do their best to reward those who develop an authentic following, a positive reputation over time, and thus, real influence. Those people have always been known as “authorities” and they naturally exude that “social signals” that the search engines value above all else.

The real bottom line is that the best way to get good positions in Google’s search results is to earn those results the “old fashioned way” … by being valuable. This means consistently publishing content—whether written, recorded audio or video, or photography or other visual media. There is no substitute for quality content (known now as “content marketing”); and this will increasingly be the only true leverage in search engine results.

We are here to help

Finally, a bit of shameless self-promotion: We continue to evolve ComBridges SEO and social media marketing services. For example, we can manage your campaigns and provide strategic guidance. Please let us know how we can help.

“It’s a Wonderful Web” 2013!

cb-ipadThe first edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter for 2013 is out. It includes the following articles:

  • 2013: The Year of Anything is Possible
  • Special Offers!
  • Free 1-Hour Audio: Web Radio Interview
  • Luscious Links

If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to read it online.

New Internet Radio Interview: What’s So New About New Marketing?

One of the fun things about having written a book about Internet marketing is getting to do interviews. Thanks to Susan Scher of the BlogTalkRadio show, “In Other Words” for the opportunity to take a full hour to discuss why I think that understanding the new dimensions of online communications is so important. Among other things, the interview (linked below) covered topics like “what’s so different about New Marketing,” authenticity, the rise of online video, the empowered consumer, social media marketing, my Attract/Engage/Relate approach to sales funnels, content marketing, and much more. Please enjoy and let me know what think.

Listen to internet radio with Perfect World Network Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Just Announced: My New Online Course on Internet Marketing

I’m thrilled to announce a brand new online course as part of our NewMarU.com start up:

Start with a Solid Foundation: 
Building on the 8 Key Concepts of Sustainable Online Marketing

There will be four one-hour state-of-the-art online sessions, all within a two week period. Here’s the dates

  • Tuesday Nov. 6th
  • Thursday Nov. 8th
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13th
  • Friday, Nov. 16th

All at Noon PT, 3pm ET (9am next day in NZ)

Helping people to do Internet marketing right is why I wrote my new book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.

NOTE: This will be a small group. There will be time for you to get your questions answered personally, and I will also give you direct feedback on your progress and step-by-step accomplishments as you grow your own online presence.

Each one-hour sessions will have a specific area of focus:

  • Session 1: Know Your Fundamentals
  • Session 2: Choose Your Building Blocks
  • Session 3: Be Your Best By Using Best Practices
  • Session 4: Marketing Fueled by Your Own Sustainable Energy

Please click here to learn more! And please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever. I’d love to see you there.

Wishing you every success,

Jon

NEW “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
  • Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
  • New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
  • New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
  • Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
  • Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

Your Social Media Future: It’s Time to Say YES.

I continue to be amazed by how many professional people still resist social media marketing. In fact, this seems to be one of the main reasons that participants find so much value in my workshop, “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix.”

The US “premiere” of this workshop will be in San Francisco, next Wednesday, October 12th. The producer, Linda Kosut just sent out an email announcement to her list with the headline, “Social Media IS Our Future” including a commentary about how she personally resisted this idea for a long time.

social media marketing workshop in Auckland, NZ

"Social Media Marketing Mix" workshop in NZ

When I was in New Zealand, Mark Lowndes of the law firm Lowndes Associates described his experience this way:

“A year ago I was certain social media had no relevance to our commercial law firm.  Today I am convinced I was wrong. Social media will be an increasingly important part of our interaction with our clients and the business community at large. As with many businesses, I now believe there is no option but to learn how to engage effectively using social media.”
— Mark Lowndes, Lowndes Associates

When I speak about how important I think it is for companies and professionals of every variety to engage in social media marketing, I compare it to the ’80’s when I used to tell business audiences that email was as important as their toll free phone line. (Yes, amazing but true, not everyone recognized email at that point as an important customer service and/or sales communications channel.) I told these business people that they have to respond to their customers, and your customers have the right to communicate via any communication “channel” they want to use.

Now, your customers are “calling” you via social media. Of course, I think you should be pro-active in this new arena. But, for openers, if your toll free phone line was ringing, or you were getting email from a prospective customer, you would answer, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Well, if you’re not engaged in social media marketing yet, please consider this your social media marketing “call.”

And, here’s a real invitation: If you are in the SF Bay Area, please do not miss the chance to experience the whole 3-hour presentation of “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix” at Ft. Mason, Wednesday, October 12th, 6:30 to 9:30pm. Frankly, the $99 registration fee is a remarkable value. My four-week online version of this workshop which will be announced shortly is expected to cost $397.

So this San Francisco live presentation, to a small interactive group offers great value. It will also deliver great inspiration that will motivate real productivity. And there will be tons of great information. I promise all of this, and I hope to see you there. Please click here to register and/or for more information. Thanks!

Luscious Links – Catching Up with the Goodness

I come across so much useful information in any given week that I’ve taken to these “Luscious Links” blog posts to try to share with you some of the best of the best that I find. Does this format work for you? Please let me know.

Google’s Focus on Quality and the PostRank Acquisition
This is an excellent & useful post from SitePoint clarifies the changing state of SEO & social media marketing. My take aways: 1. quality content rules 2. social media really does matter. 3. It’s the conversations, connections & relationships that matter most. Are you listening?

Why is Authenticity a Crucial Component of Internet Marketing?
As I’m re-grouping for the “next generation” re-invention of NewMarU.com, I was discussing with a friend, this ten-minute edited video conversation (linked above) with Robert Rabbin that came out of NewMarU’s first “guest” webinar. I LOVE what we said here and would really like more people to hear it. I sincerely believe that this is important information/perspective re marketing in the age of social media.

3 Smart Strategies for Book Promotion
Here are just a few smart ways that authors can promote their books with social media and PR. Practical steps any author can use for book marketing via SlideShare.

The “Talk Radio” Approach to Effective Email Marketing
I like the way that this CopyBlogger article underscores my core value that “it’s got to be fun.” Yes! In content marketing et al, FUN makes all the difference. Don’t you agree?

12 Awesome Facebook Stats, Charts & Graphs
Are you taking Facebook seriously as a marketing channel? If not, maybe you should check out these 12 stats via a nifty little Hubspot SlideShare presentation…

Learn How Your Website Can Be The Center Of Social Network Attention
My recent video comments on TheTVNews re social media marketing and a new solution that lets more active brands aggregate various social media conversations onto their website so it’s more of a “home base.”

How to Combine SEO and Social Media for Maximum Impact with Lee Odden
This is a good overview video interview that covers something I’ve been talking about a lot lately. It’s very important to understand the relationship between social media, SEO and content creation in order to produce effective marketing in today’s online environment. This is a valuable 5 minutes, IMHO.

Your feedback is encouraged. I’d love to hear any comments you may have.

The Fast-Track Intro to Internet Marketing | Free Webinar Tues 1/18/11

For those of us who more or less “live” online, it’s kind of amazing how many businesses and entrepreneurs are still struggling to understand and benefit from the amazing power of Internet marketing. If this is you, now there is a great way for you get up to speed, for free!

Jon has given his one-hour workshop, “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” in locations from Kona, Hawaii to Silicon Valley (as you can see in the video clip on Jon’s keynote speaker web page). Now, as just one of the benefits of registering for the free level of New Marketing University, NewMarU.com, this information-packed hour is being offered FREE via the Internet and phone conference lines on Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. Click here to register now >>

This useful and informative webinar includes a complete overview of the three main areas of Internet marketing, including:

  • The “Super Market-Trends” that have radically leveled the marketing playing fieldJon Leland at Web 3.0 Asia in Hong Kong
  • The two essential strategies upon which all successful internet marketing campaigns are based
  • The three main types of internet marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM)
  • A comparative analysis of the time requirements for implementation, the kinds and quality of results, and the cost-per-lead that is derived from each main category
  • Valuable tips, tricks and resources that are based on real world experience

Why are we producing this event for free?

  • Jon LOVES to share information and people love learning this material. It’s important!
  • It helps to expose the expertise that makes ComBridges such a valuable marketing partner.
  • This is a “free sample” of things to come. We are working on a new educational website to be called “New Marketing University” that will have many more programs. We hope you’ll like this program enough to become interested in more. To learn more, please register now.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. We hope to see you there.

>> Please Click Here to Register Now <<
It takes just 30 seconds, really! And, even if you can’t make it live, by registering you will make sure that you get the link to the free recorded version.

Or view our 1-page PDF with the generic course description below . . .
What Every Business-Onesheet 03.25.10