With the growing use of Google +1 and subsequent launch of Google +, the folks at Google have built, in the last couple of months, a foundation upon social networking. The +1 button, which is basically the search engine’s version of the Facebook “like” button, has slowly gained momentum in the search engine optimization world.
Why Google +1 is (still) very important months after its introduction
Because no one expected Google to just release it and move on. There had to be more to it.
Google’s new reporting methods allow you to track all these likes (and, don’t forget +1s and tweets, plus other social buttons!)
Many SEOs presciently blogged about how this button might be incorporated into search engine rankings in the near future (therefore giving relevant content a whole new meaning – what’s more relevant to you, the searcher, than a site that a friend – who knows what you like – recommends to you?). In a recent blog post, Google affirmed this concept: “The +1 button and the Google+ project are both about making it easier to connect with the people you trust online. For the +1 button, that means bringing advice from trusted friends and contacts right into Google search, letting the users who love your web content recommend it at the moment of decision.”
But the problem for webmasters was that there really wasn’t any way to track the impact of the +1 button alone. It could be bringing in a lot of traffic, or absolutely none at all. Well, this problem has been solved: yesterday, Google announced that +1 metrics have been added to Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics (via “Social Plugin Tracking”).
Tracking in Webmaster Tools
Lately, many webmasters have wondered how exactly to measure whether the +1 button impacts the incoming traffic to their sites.
Image taken from Google Analytics blog.
Google’s answer to this curiosity is the following features in the new +1 Metrics menu added to Google Webmaster Tools:
In your Webmaster tools, you will now see something called the “Search Impact Report,” which shows you your click-through rates and search result impressions both with the +1 button and without it (so that you can compare the two).
The new “Audience report” compiles demographic and geographic information about the people who have recommended your pages to others once you have acquired a significant amount of +1s.
The “Activity report” shows how many times and where (on the actual page or in the Google SERPs) your page has been +1ed.
Recording +1’s, Tweets, and Likes
Finally, Google gives webmasters a way to track social networking “props” via the “Social Plugin Tracking” addition to Google Analytics. Though the Internet has become a main forum for business interaction within social interaction on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and soon Google +, up until now we have not had an accurate way to track how these platforms are helping (or not helping) site traffic.
“Social engagement reports” show you data about your tweets, likes, and +1s (plus any other social interactions you connect to your site). So, if you want to see if someone who liked your page on Facebook spent more time on your site than the average visitor, you can simply check these reports for the answer. These reports also include two sub-reports:
Image taken from Google Analytics blog.
The “Social Actions report” – This report shows you how many tweets, +1 clicks, and Facebook likes have occurred on your site.
The “Social Pages report” – This one allows you to look at the pages on your site and see which one inspires the most social interaction.
Why is this important for SEO?
With all the debate and back-and-forth going on in the Search Engine Optimization world since the Google Caffeine Update (which looks for outbound links to social networks as well as active participation in them), these new reporting methods will allow businesses to really evaluate their social footprint. Then these businesses can use that knowledge to either broaden their social media presence or maintain it; ultimately, how they improve with these reports will possibly dictate whether move up in the rankings.
We’ll be able to track how this Tweet helps our business. Speaking of, follow @EverSparkSEO on Twitter!
Additionally, it is not lost on anyone that by placing Google +1 alongside other, more popular (right now) socially interactive buttons like the “like,” the search engine is trying to cement its place as an important social action. How this ties into Google’s new + social network remains to be seen, but its implications are clear. Google is proving that having the +1 button is (or, more accurately, eventually will be) a prominent way to drive traffic and scale up the rankings.