AuthorRank: Google keeps pushing Google+ through SEO

Some months ago I wrote an article about how Google+ seem to be killing SEO, since Google was starting to use data from G+ data to rank pages in its search engine. Well, according to this article in SEOmoz, the company is going to keep working in the same direction to try to boost their social platform. The new weapon is AuthorRank, a new element in Google’s algorithm that will take in consideration the author of the contents in order to rank a page.

Let’s face it: if you are searching something like “SEO tips after Penguin” you probably are more interested in reading Matt Cutts’ opinion than mine, even if his article is in a site with really low PageRank. So I think it makes sense to give some extra SEO juice to those articles signed by people with a well gained reputation in their field. That’s basically the idea behind the influence economy and tools like Klout or PeerIndex, and its concept is actually pretty similar to Pagerank: the more incoming links (people following you) the more interesting you probably are.

The problem is that it seems AuthorRank is going to use mainly (if not exclusively) data from Google+. Meaning that for Google you are not interesting unless a lot of people add you to their circles in Google+ and give you as many “+1” as possible. In order words, this is the way Google is going to make you use Google+: not because it’s cool, not because you like it and not because your friends use it, but because Google+ is going to be a crucial part of your SEO strategy.

So yes, AuthorRank might push the people working with websites to use Google+ because of its influence in SEO… but most of internet users don’t care about SEO, they just want to keep in touch with their friends. So Google is risking G+ users to be either Internet professionals or just spammers trying to rank better on search results, while the real conversation still happens through other social media platforms.

But the consequences are worst for Google Search. By giving that extra SEO juice to Google+ users the search engine becomes less objective and reliable. Imagine that links coming from pages hosted at Blogger were more important to PageRank than those from WordPress or Tumblr… well, Why should followers on Google+ count more than those on Facebook or Twitter?

Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Adwords and Google Webmaster Tools also help you rank better in Google Search, but at the end of the day we use them because they are great tools on their own. I believe pushing Google+ this much is not going to help neither the social platform or the search engine, but quite the opposite.

Will Google+ kill SEO?

I believe that Google+ is a great platform. I love the circles to manage contacts and contents, the chat and the hangouts are just amazing and even the games can beat Facebook’s. I think it actually is an overall better platform than Facebook, which makes sense since they could learn from Facebook’s mistakes and add some of the Google magic to the whole thing. But I’m also way more active in Facebook than in Google+ because is what my friends and family use, and social media is nothing but being in touch with people. And it seems like Google can’t get over this fact.

The company has taken some steps to push Google+. Most people are not in G+ because they don’t feel they need it. Well, Google came up with a solution for that: not long ago you could use any e-mail account to create accounts in Google and use GDocs, Analytics or Reader, but now you need a Gmail account. Even if they don’t just make it compulsory to have a G+ profile to use all the other Google amazing services that are market leaders (wouldn’t be surprising that they actually do this in the near future), having the Gmail account is only on click away from opening your Google+ profile. Of course this doesn’t mean you are going to use it, but now that you ahve it you might start using it and pulling your friends there.

But the big issue comes when Google announces that they are going to use Google+ data to rank pages through Google Search Plus Your World. The more Facebook likes or Twitter mentions your page gets the better position in terms of organic SEO, but for someone logged in Google+ those results will be under the pages that got +1 by people in their circles. Generally speaking this makes the search more social, but it leaves out the data from the  major social media so it¡s going to be social but not accurate. Let’s say you have 300 friends in Facebook, you follow 500 people on Twitter and you have 50 people in your G+ circles. Well, after all the likes and mentions from 800 people, what Google is going to show you first are the links shared by just 50 people.

And this is huge for SEO and SMO. If Google manages to make most users open a G+ profile and be logged in when searching, the the +1 becomes the most important factor for ranking in the web search. Strategies based on web content, keywords, page structure and link building might have to swift to just get more clicks on the +1 button. Finding and engaging the people with most friends in Google+ (so what they +1 is shown to more people), or just creating fake profiles to get more +1s might be all you need to rank first in Google. Which leads to another issue: if links, contents and contacts in Google+ are going to count so much for SEO, there is going to be lots of SPAM in there.

I understand Google’s interest in promoting Google+, but I belive Google Search should remain transparent and accurate. It still is the flagship service from the company, so search should be sacred for Google. Using it as a weapon in the social media wars is just going to do a ess everywhere.

Why you should bring conversation from social media back to your blog

blogs-lead-conversation

We all know the advantages social media brings to our blogs: it helps us to be known out there, brings traffic to our posts, boosts the conversation and helps to position our website in search engines. But there is a price that we have to pay: conversation is no longer happening in our blogs but in our Facebook page, in Twitter, in LinkedIn or even in Google+. And unless you are a big fish like Mashable, in the long term this might affect your site.

To better understand the problem you have to start looking to comments as plain content. One of the big reasons why blogs are such a great communication tool is because of the dynamic contents, which users and search engines love.

In terms of SEO, the more contents you have and the more updated, the better position you get in Google, both for the “quantity” but also because with more contents you most probably add more keywords and relevant links. You should consider comments as mini-posts in your blog: they add original content with new keywords and links, and they “refresh” the date the of publication.

Leaving aside the science of search engine optimization, the conversation is great because it does something very important in terms of interest for your readers: comments complete and improve your posts. You might have forgotten to mention something important, or maybe you brought up a question that lead to an interesting discussion, or someone just has a point of view different from yours. In any case, when readers find your blog post they can learn as much from the comments as from the article itself, but it will still happen in your website.

Therefore the problem with social media is that even though it boosts the conversation, the contents generated are not working for you but for Facebook or Twitter. All those interesting links, keywords and information wont be posted in your website, and your articles won’t be enriched by other points of view or new arguments. Moreover, the discussion becomes impossible to follow for your readers because some people will be writing on Facebook, others in Twitter and LinkedIn, some in Google+… and they won’t know about the others or what they say. Time will make things even worse: comments in social media get lost in a few days, conversation fades and no-one will be able to find or remember that discussion. Comments in your blog stay forever, making your content grow and allowing the discussion to keep going.

Conversation is always good, but depending on your objectives you should pay attention to where it happens. Social media brings traffic immediatly to your blog but it doesn’t necessary make it better, while comments under your posts will make your contents better although they might not bring as much visits in the short term.

La primera posición de Google recibe la tercera parte de todos los clicks

Pese a que Google se ha convertido en el centro de la estrategia empresarial de muchísimas organizaciones, todavía veo con preocupación como muchos directivos siguen sin entender la importancia del posicionamiento. Da la impresión de que para muchos aparecer por delante de la competencia en los resultados del buscador es una cuestión de orgullo, honor y amor propio, cuando en realidad es un tema meramente económico: el que aparece primero hace más negocio, y por tanto gana más dinero.

La razón es sencilla: cuando los usuarios hacemos una búsqueda, solo atendemos a los primeros resultados. De hecho, según un reciente estudio de Optify, el 60% de las veces hacemos click en uno de los tres primeros enlaces, pero es que más de la mitad de esas veces hacemos click en el primer resultado. Es decir, la primera posición de Google recibe la tercera parte (36’4%) de todos los clicks. Ni que decir tiene que aparecer en la segunda página de resultados de un buscador tiene un efecto casi irrisorio sobre las visitas de nuestra web, y de ahí en adelante la situación sólo empeora.

La importancia de ser el primero en Google es clara. (Fuente: Optify)

Sobre estos datos habría todavía mucho que discutir. Por ejemplo, las visitas que nos interesa atraer a través de buscadores son aquellas que no habrían llegado a nuestra web por otro camino. Si alguien busca “elmundo.es” en Google  y hace click en el primer resultado (que, por supuesto, es www.elmundo.es) en realidad no hay ningún beneficio: ese usuario ya sabía que quería ir a la versión digital de El Mundo, simplemente ha tecleado la dirección en Google en vez de en su navegador, bien sea por comodidad o por costumbre.

Seguramente costumbres como esa son las que hacen pensar a muchos directivos que lo importante es estar delante cuando alguien busca tu propia marca, lo que no es del todo cierto. Imaginemos que vendemos coches usados, y que nuestra empresa se llama “Megacoches”. Por supuesto, si al hacer una búsqueda en Google los primeros resultados no enlazan a nuestra web o, al menos, a nuestros perfiles en redes sociales, es que nuestra marca tiene un problema.

Pero como decía eso no significa que debamos poner todo nuestro esfuerzo en aparecer los primeros para la búsqueda “Megacoches”. No olvidemos que se trata de generar negocio, y probablemente la gente que busque “Megacoches” ya nos conozca e incluso ya sea cliente nuestro. Cuando de verdad nos interesa aparecer por delante de nuestra competencia es en búsquedas como “coches de segunda mano”, “coches usados” o “vehículos de ocasión”.

Y ese es precisamente el concepto de  las “palabras clave”: los términos que describen nuestra oferta y ayudarán a los usuarios a encontrarnos cuando podamos ofrecerles lo que buscan. Ahí es donde tenemos oportunidades de negocio, y ahí es donde tenemos que estar entre los tres primeros en Google.