Social Optimiziation with Open Graph Protocol

We’ve previously talked about microformats like Schema.org, but what is there for social networking sites? Have you ever attempted to Like or share something on Facebook with strange titles or pictures showing up? You might not even get what you’re looking for unless you manually input that information and let’s face it, what customer is going to do that themselves? Such a thing does exist to help and it’s called The Open Graph protocol.

What is Open Graph?
This protocol allows developers to integrate their site into a “social graph”. Using specified markup, you can make any page on your site socially shareable by setting custom type (video, article etc.), title, meta description, contact information, and even address/location.

How do you implement it?
Open Graph supports simple markup data and it’s not really hard to apply. It’s really a matter of copying and pasting the right information. If you’re using WordPress, there are plugins that can generate this for you. It’s important to use the right code when using the markup on your website. As a rule of thumb, it’s important to test and check your work before going live or before you implement it on many pages, or even site wide. Check out this Facebook Tool which gives you feedback on a page where the code is added so that you can see any potential errors. It’s also helpful to check a live, working example such as Amazon or IMDb to see how they’re using the markup and replicate it on your site for maximum effectiveness.

Why is this important?
For e-commerce retailers, product pages could have unrelated or boring information when it shows up Liked or shared on Facebook and Google Plus. Having control of what shows up in your customers’ feed is important because you want to optimize for consumers, and not just have a default blurb of what the site pulls up. Moreover, using these tags means that you’re putting it in a language that search engines can easily read and it could help boost your rankings. You can also test it on 2 similar pages, one using the markup and one not and see what difference it makes for your particular product/service (in terms of comparing bounce rate, conversions, click through rate, etc). In other words, optimizing your site for social using Open Graph can only help as you’re making your site more search and social friendly.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact us if you have any questions about Open Graph or any other social media marketing strategies!

What Is Google Author Rank?

If you know about Google’s Page Rank, it’s also important to understand exactly what Author Rank is and how it affects Page Rank and rankings in general. It all begins with creating a profile on Google Plus that is linked to your website content. Although making this addition is easy, there is more to it in order to effectively boost your search engine results.

author rank

What: In an attempt to further fight spam and integrate social signals, Google has introduced Author Rank. This is a measure of your social influence and success, meaning that Google takes into account the number of people who have added you to their Circles, how often you update, your social mentions and more. More content and more social interactions = more authority and better Author Rank. Take a look at how Google places emphasis on a credible author. Not to mention that a visual element provides a competitive edge that will help increase click-through-rates.

Why: Since your Google Plus profile is linked to your real name, picture, email address (and sometimes phone number and address) it’s a credible source and proof that you’re a real person. On top of that, being in more Circles will show that you are a voice of influence in your respective industry. The assumption is that you can provide more benefit to consumers rather than any other site that have not gone through the vigorous steps and verification to add the Author tag. Once the Author tag is added, it’s easier for Google to track the quality of your social associations and apply it towards your site’s Page Rank.

How: Once you’ve signed up for Google Plus, you just need to add a small code to the bio page on your site and the corresponding URL to the Contributor To section of your Profile. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing fancy or advanced.) Click here to for an in-depth tutorial for adding the rel=author tag to your site.

Fighting web spam isn’t an easy thing to do and social signals are a way to combat it. So, webmasters rejoice! This tool can only help add more visibility to your website and increase your trustworthiness. To learn more about how Author Rank can affect your SEO content, check out this handy infographic here.

Taking a Look at Google Plus and Search

google plus While there’s no argument that your website can benefit from an active presence on Google Plus, it’s still crucial to take a look at the different ways in which this is possible:

Inside the Social Realm
There’s no doubt that +1’s help web pages when we take a look at Search Plus Your World. This helps socialize your search results – meaning that your +1’s will show up when your Google plus friends search for something relevant to your recommendation (and vice versa). These +1’s act like a social sign of credibility and relevance since your friends are liking them and in return, endorsing that certain web page/company. This major change in search has businesses even more intently focused on creating content that will engage users and not just search engines.

Impact on Search Algorithm
The more +1’s your site has, the more it signifies relevance, credibility and trustworthiness. To what degree Google considers these social signals is unclear and their impact probably changes all the time, due to different factors. Of course, this also goes for Facebook Likes and Tweets, but some suspect that Google will give preference over their own social networking platform over the others that are out there.

Ongoing Debate
There is no direct answer on whether Google Plus can bring something “new” to your online organic campaigns but it’s the potential that people are focused on. In a way, you can look at Google + in a way that it isn’t doing anything to drastically change the search marketing game, but that it is amplifying the effects of things being spoken about in the SEO community for awhile now.

For example, these social signals are encouraging companies to create content that is more user-friendly and that will evoke more engagement. The addition of social factors to search engine results are also discouraging spammy content, keyword stuffing and other black hat methods that have been frowned upon because really, who is going to click on, read or even +1 a badly written, self-serving article?

Is Google Plus Right for Your Business?
This all boils down to making an analysis on what social platform will be a good fit for your company. Right now, big brand names and marketing/technology companies are doing well with Google Plus. Smaller companies might benefit as well, depending on their niche. In a comparison that can be easier to relate to, it’s like choosing whether direct mail, television ads or even paper directories are a good fit for your company. Believe me, there are some clients who still invest thousands a month in Yellow Page ads. Marketing is about choosing a mix of different strategies that will suit your company well – it doesn’t mean that you have to just choose one thing and stick to it.

Google + For Businesses: Will You Join?

Yesterday, Google + business profiles have finally arrived. A short clip about new “branded” pages shows that a business owner cares about customer loyalty and personal interaction with different types of people.

And that’s what I’m seeing showcased more in social media services for small business solutions. The promo ends with this tagline, “Business don’t make people happy. People do.” Social media can help businesses hone that human side and showcase an inviting persona. After all, clicks, Likes and +1’s if businesses don’t see the end result with real people after all their efforts.

Here are some questions that you should really think about investing time and resources on yet another social networking site:

  • Are my customers (or customers within the industry) actively using Google +?
  • What is the point of the company profile and what message do we want to convey?
  • Why would customers be interested in connecting with my company/brand?
  • How else will I promote my content on Google+ and off?
  • How will I integrate this campaign with my other online marketing efforts?

After you answer these questions, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself the final question: are you ready to create unique and relevant content for your Google+ profile? After all, that is the goal of an effective profile. Check out these popular profiles for more examples of how they’re being used: Toyota, Angry Birds, NPR and Macy’s,

Google +1 Button: To Do or Not to Do? (Part Deux)

Will you be implementing Google’s +1 button on your site? Although there are many benefits of using a the button, it’s crucial to see the downsides and how it can affect your current site:

Speed is a factor: More social media buttons means more load time. Slower load time and site speed will hurt your rankings, since it is a factor in how Google ranks your site… not to mention that impatient customers may bounce away.
Too many distractions: Adding a Google +1 button can be a distraction from your site content, especially if you already have multiple buttons. This can clutter your site and draw attention in a negative manner and away from your business.
Harm your professional image: Sometimes, when I see a site overloaded with social media buttons, it gives me the impression of being spammy or not very credible. If you focus on a few social media sites and integrate them into a clean design, it will help your site feel and look more reliable.
Right target audience?: First of all, do you even plan to devote time to your Google + profile? For now, business profiles don’t exist so if you have the button but don’t plan on being social on Google +, it may not help your site in the long run to add more clutter. For the most part, I see that many internet marketers are utilizing Google + and +1s. Like LinkedIn, this can be a good method to learn about your industry and network. But for getting retail customers for your small retail business? Maybe not so much…

Do you think Google’s +1 button is right for your business? Remember, it doesn’t hurt to experiment and see what works out. Feel free to let us know why you will or won’t be using this social media button (or any others for that matter!)

How Will You Be Using Google Plus?

Facebook vs Google

In the battle of the giants, which one will reign supreme? Like vs Plus is a site where you can show your brand loyalty and cast your vote. After all, you can’t both Like and +1 everything, right?

Even if you’re tired of hearing so much on Google +, it’s important to stay connected so that you can adapt in the fast paced world of social media marketing. Here are some more ways you can use Google +:

– Chris Brogan shows us that we can blog with Google +. This basically consists of sharing a video/picture or some other media content and quickly following up in your own post with comments and links.

– Since business profiles are not allowed yet, you can take this opportunity to be innovative and show a personal side. Creating a personal profile associated with your business will allow you to socialize in a niche community and showcase your expertise.

– In a way, Google Circles reminds me of communities and groups on LinkedIn. Creating and organizing different Circles will allow you to network with different groups of people without worrying about keeping matters separate. (For example: connecting with clients, partners, employees, and friendly competitors… frenemies, anyone?)

– Watch out for Google Sparks. This is a section where you can receive personalized news articles and other information based on your interests. I see where SEOs can use this feature to their advantage by utilizing the right keywords.

Google + is more extensive than other social media platforms right now but it doesn’t necessarily mean that users have the time and knowledge to use them all. Let’s just see where all this potential can take us – after all, we’re talking about something that’s less than 3 weeks old!