Why Google+ Is the Best Social Platform for Content Marketers

Image of Google+ Logo

Play along with me here for a minute.

Imagine some drunk wandering down the sidewalk at 3 in the morning. He’s got a cigarette dangling from his lip and a half-empty beer bottle he’s sloshing around in his hand. He’s alternately singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” kicking the rearview mirrors of parked cars, and sobbing.

He’s a sad sight — until he slips on the ice in front of your house.

You run out and help him to his feet. He thanks you, pinches your cheek, and says, “I love you man.” You hand him his now empty bottle, shove him off, and think that’s the end of it.

A few days later, however, you get a letter in the mail. It’s from a lawyer, the lawyer of the chap who slipped on the ice in front of your house. Turns out that fall broke his jaw and sprained his shoulder — and now he wants to sue you for medical expenses.

You’ll have to put aside your feelings about personal responsibility, laziness, greed, and the declining condition of the human race for the moment. You need a lawyer.

And the last place you’re going to look is in the phone book. Instead, you’ll ask your friends. Who do they recommend?

Google is in your world now

Whether we are looking for a lawyer, mechanic, or a great restaurant, we look to our friends for recommendations. In other words, we look to people we trust.

The same principle applies online.

We look to social signals when evaluating any piece of content. A blog post with 1,000 Twitter shares is an indication that we probably won’t be disappointed by reading it. The same with a photograph shared more than 600 times on Google+ or a YouTube video with 5 million views.

In other words, social proof is the new marketing.

Well, Google took this idea to another level with Search Plus Your World (S+YW), a search feature that enhances your results with posts, photos and more from your friends. It’s yet another intriguing wrinkle in the ever-unfolding story of authorship and how it may affect search rankings.

While S+YW has been around for awhile, let’s review what it looks like in practice for those people who may be new to the concept.

Try this little experiment

Head over to Google and type in “hide personal results.”

Depending on who’s in your Google+ circles and contacts, you’re going to receive both personal and private results — relevant tips, photos and articles from your friends — right beside other relevant content from the web.

Here are the top two results I received for the phrase “hide your personal results”:

Image of Google Search Results

The number one listing is from a gal who has implemented Google’s authorship markup. It helps that she posted on a site with high authority — Lifehacker is a blog brand just about everyone recognizes.

The second result is from a guy I kind of know. In fact, the grey head-and-shoulders icon says this guy is in my Google+ network (he obviously has authorship markup implemented, too).

So, whose article do you think I clicked on? That’s right, Brian Gardner’s. And this, my friends, is how social recommendation in search is now working, thanks to S+YW.

S+YW drastically changed the SEO game

Here’s the deal: because of S+YW you and I will not receive the same results in Google for a given phrase — even if we’re connected on Google+.

We simply don’t have the same search history profile.

What that means is when it comes to measuring our success with the classic SEO metric — page ranking — you need to rethink your strategy because the game has changed.

It’s changed so much that Danny Sullivan said that S+YW was the most radical transformation of Google search results ever.

What this means in the long run is that ranking has become an even more complex equation. Who you know has become an incredibly important factor for most searches. (As always, it’s debatable whether this is a good thing or not.)

Another reason to grow your Google+ network

For example, if you want to land in your network’s search results for the phrase “hide personal results,” you would need to do at least four things:

  • Create an epic post on “how to hide personal search results on Google.”
  • Publish that post on an authoritative site.
  • Get people to link to and share that post.
  • Grow your Google+ network.

While you have control over the four above steps in varying degrees, it’s that last point that you probably have the most control over.

Here’s why …

Let’s say you are in more than 1,000 Circles, but you have another 1,000 Gmail contacts. (People who have Gmail accounts have Google+ accounts — even if they don’t know it.)

That means your total net reach in search is more than 2,000 people. Not too bad, since you can extend that reach simply by growing your presence and audience on Google+ (I’ll show you how below — don’t worry, it’s pretty easy).

But things get even better.

Why Google+ is the better social network

See, your network impact on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest doesn’t extend beyond those social media domains.

Your content is sheltered (which is another reason not to be a digital sharecropper).

On Google+ your network impact extends beyond the social media domain. It follows you across all of Google’s products: Reviews, Maps, Chrome, Ads, Hangouts, YouTube, Drive, Calendar, Wallet.

It follows you across every Google product.

This is what people mean when they say that Google+ is a social layer. And this is why head of Google+, Vic Gundotra, called Google+ “Google 2.0.”

Search has been upgraded by social.

In addition, where a tweet or a Facebook post has a shelf life of 30 minutes at the most, a Google+ post can be found during a search by someone in your network … no matter how old it is.

How to build your personal impact in S+YW

Fortunately, the process for increasing your S+YW influence is pretty straightforward:

And keep in mind that the growth of your Google+ network is actually exponential. Google+ expert Mark Traphagen explains what this means in his article Your Google Plus Network Is More Powerful Than You Know:

… if one person who has 10,000 Google+ followers (and/or other Google contacts, such as people in her Gmail contacts) follows you, you’ve gained the ability to potentially influence the search of not just one, but 10,000 other people, most of whom don’t even know you exist!

Over to you …

Listen. You simply don’t get this kind of reach on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, or LinkedIn.

This kind of reach is only available through S+YW, which is just one more reason why you should make Google+ an essential component of your content marketing strategy.

Of course, we all need a new social media platform to manage like we need a hole in our head. But here’s the deal … if you value your reputation and your work … if you want to establish online authority and build an audience … if you want to drive more traffic to your website and boost sales and opportunities …

Then get over yourself and get on Google+. We’d love it if you joined us.

There’s a whole new world of content marketing waiting for you. Besides, you’ll need a Google+ account to implement authorship markup — the topic of conversation for the next post in my Author Rank series.


This is the fourth in my series exploring the power and future of Google+ and authorship. You can grab the others right here …

  1. Why Hunter S. Thompson Would’ve Loved Author Rank (And Why You Should, Too)
  2. How Google’s PageRank Algorithm Screwed the Online Writer (and What They Did to Fix It)
  3. Seven Ways Writers Can Build Online Authority with Google+

… and make sure you subscribe to Copyblogger so the next one lands right in your inbox or RSS reader.

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Reader Comments (100)

    • says

      I actually think it serves a very different role than Facebook. Facebook seems to work best for more social interactions, specifically with people you already know (in the sense of having probably met them in person at some point). Google + seems better for building relationships with people you might not ever hang out with at a party, but who you share similar interests with and will therefore appreciate the content they share.

    • says

      Agree with you to some extent. Google plus will kill facebook, i am not sure. But google+ definitely has a great impact on how we used to do marketing on web. By Google+ your network impact extends beyond the social media domain. It impacts millions of search results.
      “Google+ is the new Google Submit Url Box.” Rand Fiskin of SEOmoz.

  1. says

    I still have the best results with Facebook, and lately have been making some good connections on Linkedin. Twitter doesn’t do much for me, but I admittedly don’t put much time into it. I’ve slowly been growing my Google+ network. I’ll see what happens. Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

    • says

      Go where your market is, Dan. I just watched an interesting video about how an Australian travel company decided to join Google+ to capitalize on the early adopters and tech enthusiasts, which were their target market. Their lead generation efforts took off because they found the thirsty crowd.

      • says

        I feel that same way. I think being active on Google+ is good to learn from other thought leaders in my industry and to get my content to rank higher on Google. But, most of my company’s consumers are still mostly active on Facebook and YouTube. They just aren’t as interested in Google+ (at least not yet.)

  2. says

    “What that means is when it comes to measuring our success with the classic SEO metric — page ranking — you need to rethink your strategy because the game has changed. ”

    That’s what I am constantly telling my clients! I don’t necessarily always like how “personal” Google is getting but that doesn’t change the fact that the search results are changing from person to person even with the same search query.

  3. says

    From my experience, my Facebook account has a ready group of friends/fan base, but Google+ is not a common sharing platform for my friends/followers. So, unless there is a good reason to migrate to Google+, most of the people will still feel facebook is second nature,while Google+ needs more deliberate clicking, only when they have no more updates to follow on facebook.

    But for digital marketers, online marketing professionals, they are the ones who will be doing more on Google+, as they know very well how much this will affect the website’s ranking.

    • says

      Sure, adoption is slow, and you should go where your market is, but engaging in Google+ early will give you a head start on competition down the road as a content marketer. I know people who are suddenly experts in G+ because they’ve spent the last year working G+.

  4. says

    I have just recently signed up to get Copyblogger’s daily insights and I am really glad I did. There are so many great ideas for individuals wanting to increase their online presence and be recognized as authorities – thank you!

  5. says

    I’m finding that one of the perks of getting onto Google + at this point is that, because there are less people there, it’s easier to interact directly with those that are. There’s less competition for making new connections.

    I’m looking forward to your post about Google authorship markup, I’m having the hardest time getting it set up right. Or maybe it’s set up right, and just I just have to wait a little while for my photo to start showing up in results? Is that common?

  6. says

    Like Kristen above, Authorship is not kind to setup.

    Specifically, I have a WordPress “. com” page, nor a. org site. http://www.BostonTestosterone.wordpress.com

    It would be great if you could post a blog letting us with the. com WordPress sites how to accomplish Author Rank without having to set up an entirely new page and blog site.

    Thank you.

    • says

      I don’t think there is a way to set up Authorship with WP.com. I think it’s just one of those restrictions to free WordPress – just like you can’t have Analytics or Adsense. But if these folks know different, I’d like to hear it!

      I just switched over to .org a couple of weeks ago and set up Authorship – took about 24 hours to go into effect. Besides that, you’ll want the authority of your own URL. It’s only costing me $6-8 a month. But it has been a bit of a hassle switching over, like not having my original blog theme available.

  7. says

    Thanks for bringing logic and reason into the discussion on SEO and Social Media Marketing. Not only does this illustrate the evolving mechanics of “being found” on the web, but more importantly, the mechanics of how search has become mor human by way of social interaction. I’m passing this one along…

    • says

      Thanks Nando. This is what I like about Google: evolving with the market as the market evolves. I love knowing that at any given time you and I and everyone else who uses Google products is part of a user experience test. That’s optimization at it’s best.

  8. says

    It’s interesting that Google and Facebook are coming at this from different angles. Google are the “go to” search provider and are trying to integrate that with a new social network. Facebook have the social network but are trying to add the search. I can’t help thinking that most people are happier trusting Google for search results / product information, etc. at this point in time, and slowly integrating social results will be the more successful strategy.

    • says

      Miles, “trust” is the keyword. I don’t think anyone can say “I trust Facebook” with a straight face. Trust has been a huge selling point for all Google products. And of all the social sites Google+ is the only one that has NOT been hacked.

  9. says

    Enjoyed the very informative article. I do think of Facebook as the more social platform and Google+ as the more business to social platform. Just wondering how this will continue to evolve.

  10. says

    Social is a layer with varying challenges, but in the end it is all about data. Facebook has tons of data of course, the Open Graph is amazing, but like most things “Big Data”, you have to sift through to find actionable data.

    The power of G+ lies in its ability to tie in social connections with actionable data, arguably the most powerful data tool ever created for the digital world – search. It monetize way more than anything else, because the buying intention is there.

    Combine intention with social connections and you have a powerful tool, thanks for the insights Demian!

    • Jeff Sararas says

      Your distinction between data vs actionable data is why I’ve never been able to understand Facebook’s underlying assumption- that because 3 of my friends like mint ice cream, they should hit *me* with mint ice cream ads. I hate mint ice cream, and no amount of ‘social proof’ will ever change that. It may help, once the intention is there (through search, as you say). Without it though, the whole FB model seems almost completely arbitrary.

  11. says


    Any tips on transitioning? Keeping time constraints in mind. To put it another way…

    I don’t doubt a word you say, but if one is “invested” in Facebook, and limited in time, do you post differently to FB and G+, or do you re-post duplicate posts, so that no one will miss what you want to say?

    (I had a G+ account, tried to participate, but deleted it after too much neglect in favor of FB). Thanks.

    • says

      I think it’s safe to say that you can share the same thing on FB as you do on G+ … two different audiences. What do you mean by “invested in Facebook”?

      • says

        Thanks a lot. Comments are great, too.

        By “invested”, I mean that I’ve been on FB for some time and developed real relationships. This has been time consuming, and adding on G+ will be even more time consuming.

        However, I’m realizing that this discussion is primarily about content, business, monetizinng, etc., as opposed to “friend” interaction, which is why I’ve got to get back into G+, based not so much on friend relationships, but common interest associations.

        Thanks again very much.

  12. says

    Thank you for this really informative post. I started to see the S+YW phenomenon last week as I was testing the same search phrases with different logged on users. It was an interesting experiment. Like many others, Google+ is my next frontier, too!

  13. says

    This is great information. The only thing I’m finding is that Google Apps for business doesn’t have the “Personal Search” option so you can’t use Search + Your World with your Google Apps account.

  14. says

    Great post Demian!

    A recent study by GlobalWebIndex reveals that 25 percent of worldwide Internet users are now active on Google+ at least once a month — second behind Facebook (51 percent) : http://globalwebindex.net/thinking/social-platforms-gwi-8-update-decline-of-local-social-media-platforms/

    The point is go where the engaging users are. Google is now forcing all new Gmail users to create Google+ enabled accounts. Whereas Facebook doesn’t have such systems by any means. Well to stand out in Google’s eyes at least in SERPs Google+ is becoming one of the necessary items. Soon or later I guess Google will make so crucial using Google+ that it should have to be in every webmasters SEO strategy. What do ya think??

    • says

      People are only using it because they’re forced to. Facebook or Twitter they use because they want to. Big difference.

      • says

        So Tim do ya think the saying “Google+ is a ghost town” is true? Because people won’t defiantly be somewhere where they are forcefully introduced. (I’m not against Google+ and personally have an account in Google+) Actually it’s the number that talks, don’t you think that’s why Google+ is forcing new Gmail signups to Google+?

  15. says

    This argument is fundamentally flawed because it assumes my friends—just because they’re my friends—know everything about everything. That is far from the truth.

    To use your example, if I need a lawyer I’m not going to ask my friends because I don’t know a one that’s hired a lawyer. I’m going to ask people I vaguely maybe know who HAVE hired a lawyer, specifically one who deals with liability cases. If I’m going to ask a travel question, the last people I trust are my friends who go on vacation once a year at most. I’ll go research what the experts have to say.

    I’ll take the “unpersonalized” results from Google any day and have that permanently turned on in the toolbar. And hardly anyone would use Google+ if there were no big brother business reason to do so.

    • says

      No, I’m not assuming your friends know everything about anything. What I’m saying is we ask people we trust for recommendations. Whether they are friends or people in white lab coats. Then we do our due diligence. And indeed we do often take advice from people who hardly know: just look at review sites like trip advisor or Yelp.

      And the reason people use Google+ is because it rocks. Plain and simple.

  16. says

    Interesting read.
    That Google will integrate its search results more often with Google Plus data seems very logical.
    Does this mean personal blogs will get higher rankings compared to websites without authors / personal blogs? How will this affect bigger corporations who simply aren’t “personal”. I guess they will lose ground?

    As for Facebook. Let’s not forget they are integrating Social Search as mentioned in January. It still seems like quite a big effort for Google to get everyone to use G+ as actively as ppl are using Facebook right now.
    Facebook on the other hand already has all the users, they just need to set up a great search system.

    The next couple years will tell who will win the social search battle…

    • says

      Good point. I have my money on Google. 😀 Yes, verification can boost a website versus sites that don’t have verification. Google wants to snuff out anonymity. Regarding large brands, they won’t lose out because they will leverage their individual authors, but brands can even benefit from rel=publishers.

  17. says

    I’ve always been very hesitant to put myself out there publicly and for years I barely even used Facebook. Things have changed recently and due to new business developments I’ve finally decided it’s time to build up my web presence a bit. Going to be tough starting from scratch but articles like this are quite helpful.

    I definitely see the future of SEO when looking at a lot of the new Google authorship and trust factors. Better get started now or be left behind…

    • says

      Cody, we all start from scratch, so we know where you are at … and we know where you can go. If you are willing to put in the work. The nice thing with G+ is that you can grow a following quickly by sharing the right content. Join some communities, and check out last Monday’s post on “7 Ways Writers Can Build Authority with Google+.”

  18. says

    Great article giving a bit more of an understanding of Google+. I manage two accounts my personal account and we have a business account too. I’m posting content, I’m blogging I’m doing everything I should be but yet to have shares etc. I am finding it a little difficult to get people to +1 our site but I’m sure it will come in time. Only been with the business 4 months so I’m hoping in the next couple of months my hard work will start to pay off. I think like alot of people are predicting this could be the next new thing and could potentially take over Facebook.

  19. says

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been talking about Google+ on my blog lately, and I will link my 750 followers to come see this post. Unfortunately, you don’t have a “press it” button with Word Press, but you can see my post linking you at: http://daniellerainbolt.com/2013/03/05/why-google-is-the-best-social-platform-for-content-marketers/ I have been promoting a platform to learn all things Google+, and this will fit in perfectly. Really appreciate it, and I will definitely want to read your other posts on the subject. daniellerainbolt.com

  20. says

    I am a huge fan of Google+, I have been a member of the site since it started but have only just started to actively participate in communities and share content. I get more traffic, replies and interaction from it than any other social site. In my opinion it will outlive Facebook (which is slowly on its way down the tube anyway) and is different enough from Twitter and Pinterest to co-exist with them.

    Nice article by the way, enjoyable read :)

  21. says

    Google+ may be the “superior” social network, at least technically speaking, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an even better network by another company in a few years. First it was myspace, then facebook, then Google+. Social networks are highly transient and while Google+ might be good for the now, it doesn’t seem to be an object of any real permanence.

  22. says

    Urg…you’ve convinced me to pay more attention to my Google+ profile…my terribly sad, neglected, and lonely profile. Time to show it some love!

  23. says

    Facebook isn’t going anywhere. I have nothing against Goggle+ and I love Hangouts. But Facebook is ingrained in our society and the marketing of major companies. You aren’t going to find people like my mom, aunt, cousins, nephew and other family members moving to Google+ anytime soon if at all. All of their friends, family members, co-workers, companies and products they like are on Facebook.

  24. says

    I agree with this post. Since joining Google + a few weeks ago, I have seen remarkable increase in traffic through good search results.

  25. says

    Dennis and others,
    The point about your friends not joining is that they WILL eventually. When they do, all those friendships come with them. The thing is, Google+’s biggest strength is in shared “interests.” You may find that your friends/family/etc rapidly make new friends.
    And that is when you will join (reluctantly).

  26. says

    I am increasingly frustrated by something you point out as an aside. “Who you know has become an incredibly important factor for most searches. (As always, it’s debatable whether this is a good thing or not.)”

    Google Search was great the way it was, ( not socially-dependent) Facebook is great the way it is ( now it is pushing search), Twitter was great the way it was to begin with, yet all three awesome companies are looking over their shoulders at what the others are doing and copying each other. They are becoming one big mashup and suppressing the unique user experience and expertise they rose to the top with.

    Google is so dominant, any business it turns it hand to now, will bury someone already in that space. I’m not sure this is good. In any case, I dont think it is the best strategy. I would prefer if Google search results weren’t social – Do you know if you can you turn off all social results?

    But for now, of course, I will you on Google +. Keep rocking the great articles.

  27. Darrell says

    I thought I read somewhere that Google insisted G+ its not a social platform per se. You really are comparing apple and oranges here. Facebook is still the dominant place for real social interactions. Google+ is well more smoke and mirrors in my opinion only. They would like you to believe its the best place to mingle and socialize.

    Do I believe Facebook is sustainable? That will depend on how they roll out search graph by Facebook and other key applications in the coming years.

    The best thing we could all do is not buy into anyone company. After all, when its free – we are actually the experiment right? Think about it for a minute. They scrape and abuse our data all day long to serve better ads – that’s it. I’m not against Capitalism either, but just trying to be a bit more cautious. Especially with Google given their past and predatory behaviors when it comes to search. Trust me, Facebook ain’t no better because they have to make money too.

    Google used to have the best search results, clean and minimally intrusive. Now, page 1 is virtually all ads. Any organic listings are pushed too far down and they keep going down every day. I am starting to use Bing more and more.

    I’m not buying into the G+ and will limit my time on anyone social platform. In fact, I use G+ about once per week for about 2 minutes. Maybe in time, I might use it more – hard to tell.

    Lets try this Experiment Instead

    Here’s a good experiment just to piss off Larry Page. Everyone stop using G+ for say the next 1 month and see how fast it becomes obsolete. I mean,how many times has Google come up with so called bright ideas, only to find out hardly anyone was interested. If we stop giving into these companies our stuff so freely, it will be a better place.

    Although it may not happen for a few more years, I will be doing the dance, when a really smart person comes along and builds a better mouse trap – organic search that is…Then one day Google will be a 2nd tier search engine like Bing and Yahoo and only control say 30% of the market – which I believe is a much better thing for all of us.


  28. Joe says

    Hi & thanks for a great article!

    A question…Create only a G+ profile to promote a website, or create a G+ profile & a G+ page for the website, & promote the page instead of the profile? Or, dare I say it, promote both?!

    Of course authorship corresponds to the profile, not the page, but the rel=”publisher” tag links the page to the website, all of which ads even more confusion. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks so much!

  29. says

    An all too interesting read about the value of Google Plus, particularly as a form of SocialSEO that kind of downplays the value of other social ranking factors ( namely likes, tweets and pins – don’t forget Google is still an algorithm that can identify links, even on the shelter socials).

    The thing that stood out the most is that Google Plus really isn’t a social network, yet it is. In a way its the future of Search or rather the present of search, but in a way its like Social has been tacked onto Search, instead of some Search based recommendation layer by itself.

  30. says

    Great article Demian.

    Question: how will g+ help a local remodeling business? Most of those consumers are not on g+


      • says

        Most are FB and Pinterest. Mostly women. But, I love the search aspects of g+

        It only makes sense to have a strong presence on the best search platform right?

        • says

          Tom, you nailed it. I tell people to work two social networks — Google+ and wherever your audience hangs out the most.

          For you, that’s likely Facebook. But think about it. Out of the millions of people on G+, many of them own houses. And that means they will be interested in remodeling issues, even if they are not currently in the market or even in your market. Those engagement and sharing signals can only help you.

          Plus, when G+ allows you to target people by geography like FB does, you’ll be able to create localized content that sends Google signals AND leads to direct business. It may be slow at first, but if you’re competitors aren’t creating content and working G+, guess who will get the search love?

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