EDITOR’S NOTE: This article, originally published on Feb. 26, 2013, placed at No. 16 in our 20 most popular articles of the year.
Facebook claims its announcement of Graph Search doesn’t mean they are getting involved in search. And publicly Google may not consider Facebook a competitor, but both Facebook and Google dominate the web in terms of their huge audiences and the personal data that they own, and over the last 12 months the rivalry has clearly become a lot closer.
So if we believe what they tell us — Facebook isn’t concerned about search (they need to organise their own internal data much better) and Google isn’t concerned about social — surprisingly they haven’t even setup Google+ authorship for themselves yet!
More Data = Better Targeting
There’s no denying that both Facebook and Google have huge audiences, but where they are likely to win or lose long-term is with data. The more data and knowledge they have about users, the more targeted they can make their ads, which means a better response rate from advertising spend, leading more market share from advertisers…
This makes Facebook search a serious threat to Google, and equally it makes Google+ a threat to Facebook.
During the last 12 months Google have steadily been rolling out changes to their search algorithm, which has increasingly meant that Google+ is vital to them moving forward. And that’s the game plan: Integrate the world’s largest search audience with social and Google+. This means that Google+ is only likely to become even more important to brands in 2013.
At BlueGlass, we’ve recently researched and analysed the top Fortune 100 sites. Based upon this, we have listed 5 steps we recommend brands should take to make the most out of Google+.
1) Create a Google+ brand page. We reviewed all of the Fortune 100 companies and we found that only 30% had setup their own Google+ brand pages. This really is the very first step: ensuring that you have a brand presence on Google+. Then you can start to build a fan base and activity around your brand in Google+, while also brightening up your brand’s appearance in Google by bringing your Google+ page in their knowledge graph results, as shown by the example shown below for a query on UK fashion brand ASOS:
2) Setup rel=author and rel=publisher authentication. When reviewing the Fortune 100 companies, we found that only 4 of these had successfully setup Google Authorship! These were Home Depot, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Allstate. That means that even the likes of Apple, Amazon, Dell — and even Google themselves — haven’t set this up properly yet!
There are two types of authentication:
- rel=publisher – for the overall brand, and;
- rel=author – for the individual authors.
Once the authorship setup is complete and verified, you will then notice that the author’s Google+ profile will be listed alongside the content they have written.
For example, see below for The Next Web:
They have authorship linked up, although not for all authors. This is set up on an individual basis, where you need to connect your Google+ profile with the sites that you publish content on, which means you need to make sure all of your writers are doing this.
Google is getting much better at connecting the dots without our help (see the example below).
3) Get blogging and create great content. Getting authorship all linked up is great, but you need some content to share!
We researched the same Fortune 100 companies and found that only 41 have their own blogs! In a world where content-driven strategies and telling stories online are becoming far more important towards marketing a business, this is a huge missed opportunity for these brands.
4) Take the effort in getting your writers to build up Google+ profiles.
If AuthorRank does change content marketing and journalism, that means that the strength and reputation of a writers Google+ profile is key towards how well their content performs in Google search. For this reason it makes perfect sense that you would want to strengthen these profiles as much as you can. For example, one writer on Forbes, Kashmir Hill, has connected authorship:
Kashmir Hill does have an active Google+ profile , linked. but because Kashmir’s profile is reasonably inactive, we’ve found that the author image does not show in Google site: search unless you search for a specific article:
5) Become a topical authority. If you are a writer, you want to be known as an established writer for a specific niche. If you are a jack of all trades, Google will not be able to assess the topical relevancy of a writer.
An established travel writers content about a recent hotel stay, will be far more relevant than a technology writers, for example. And that makes sense, because of their professional background you would trust the opinion of a writer with the more relevant experience.