Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 17 - The Google Gorilla in the Room...

Google+ secret sauce - how they can help you earn more income from home

(Secret Sauce - third installment)

We can't continue here without discussing the 900lb. Gorilla in the room - Google.

This particular scene only unfolded for me last month, but is so basic to our SEO efforts that I had to tell you (been "busting to" in fact).

Google has been working on entering the social arena for years. They tried Buzz and Wave and now Google+ - which seems to be a hit (finally). Of course, it's overshadowed by Facebook, for now.

The reason I can say that is that point I've mentioned about Facebook before: it's a walled garden. Unfortunately, that works against it. While I could tell you all the statistics which show it reaches a saturation point in any country and then starts slowly declining, they offset that with it's entry into new countries. And point to ad revenue (which doesn't get new clients for those businesses, so is a ponzi scheme waiting to implode.)

Google+ is simply built on how people share content. So it's a natural fit to Google and users.

But the real deal is that it's now integrated into all Google does - and shortly will even have their analytics built into their Google+ pages. And how you integrate with Google affects what searches you personally get and also who gets your links. So this will help your community to keep track of your content - nice, yes?

There are 2 parts to this:
  1. Everything you connect into Google will help your site rank better.
  2. Google will teach you how to make better content - so your pages rank better.
Now, the outset is that you need to set up a Google Account, which is fairly simple -  go to https://accounts.google.com and fill out their form. Now a point here is that you don't try to set up several accounts here. It's not like twitter. They cross-check stuff. So one should do you and keep it the same. From all the work I've done with them, that's my short version. Pick one and stick to it.

Google's purpose

Arguably, they have mostly been interested in how people store and retrieve information. Their business plan has been to sell advertising, which has worked. Especially with the tools they offer to "auction" their ads. So they very nearly always sell as the highest rate possible, but that's another story we don't have time to get into.

The great part of Google is that they have been so successful at search, that they have long controlled the greatest part of the market for searches. So if they say they want "such-and-so" every one asks - "how high?" (mixed metaphor).

For better or worse, they have started to become ubiquitous on other platforms as well. Their Chrome browser is now starting to unseat Microsoft's IE as top dog. And this is another way they are working to understand people's usage of the Internet, so they can give better results in their search.

Factually, their biggest problem now is their success, as they have been losing trust - essentially due to the huge amount of data they can access about people. Again, this is an issue that there are solutions for which we don't need to get into.

Our use of this is to leverage their ability to have their fingers in all pies in order to get them to notice our content more easily. The second point it that their feedback on what we do can improve our own rankings. So we use their expansiveness to our advantage.

Analytics

Google Analytics is simple to find. http://www.google.com/analytics/
You sign in with your gmail account (Google Account) and then enter all the various properties that you have. For each one (unless you group them together) you'll get a number which you can drop into other social properties where they ask for such.

A lot of these social sites are supporting Google analytics, which is a good thing. It makes it easier to implement (no cutting and pasting code into your page headers) and this also tells them that your site is available and connects to you.

While we'll go over this later, this is a key point - that you take control of ownership for your content. The better you make this content and the more sites you have out there, it's important that Google knows where it started. By plugging in analytics, you then will enable Google to directly track your site/blog/content and so tell you all sorts of things about how it's working and what you can to to improve it.

Now a caveat - Google Analytics simply isn't as good as your own server. But if you are using free hosting, it's the next best thing (and far better than nothing.) So if you have a Google account, then take the next step of generating a number for it and plugging it in.

Webmaster Tools

Their use of this is fascinating, since they can tell you what people are using to search your site. Again, your own server is better for this in terms of accuracy, but this is what Google thinks your site looks like and so can give you a leg up on what content you should produce next in order to back up what Google is sending your way.

A rule of warning here - it's not the Gospel truth of what are the best keywords you should be using. Remember our lessons on Market Samurai. Not all keywords are valuable. You want to chase those which have commerciality - people click through on ads which others pay good money for. But you can scrape these keywords and run them through Market Samurai (or for free - through Domain Samurai) to find out what is working best for you.

They also tell you here what broken links you have and how you can improve your site for the search engines. Mainly that when they search a site and find broken links, they come back less often. So fixing these ensure they will search your site quickly (like minutes).

Recently (this year sometime) they plugged Webmaster Tools into Analytics which improved both of them. So when you go into Analytics (you'll have to turn on this interconnection, but it's simple) then you can see what keywords are being searched for and what pages people are accessing.

Again, this is included with your Google Account. And some, like Wordpress.com, only take Webmaster Tools. Odd, but at least you'll be able to see the keywords they visit your free Wordpress blog from it's dashboard - which is also handy.

Google+profiles

While this has been a long, slow start and with several mis-steps, now it looks like they have their feet under them.

Google+ profiles are your personal page on Google. And ties all your work on their various platforms together. And it's the best of the profiles out there, since they have learned from Facebook's and other's mistakes. Just review that freebie I gave you yesterday about setting up your social profiles and you'll get the bulk of it. (Pictures, links back to your site, the whole thing.) But they do privacy better (as much as you can on the web...)

I'm not one who cares all that much for burning my time keeping track of other people's posts. (Even Google has this on automatic.) But Google has released this along with some of their other updates, and is probably the first to use a tag (rel=author) which says that the content on that page was created there first. By doing this, they can see where someone else simply copied the content and pasted it onto their site.

So they can then give the best value to the original content. People who copy your stuff (and leave the links intact) will then be sending you authority for being the author. So they boost your site up for those keywords.

The way Google helps you with this is by enabling you to put a badge on your site which lets people "plus-1" your page. But also marks your site as the original.

Google+ pages

I'm continually surprised that there isn't a land-rush for these.

The same thing you do for yourself, you can do for any product. Like affiliate products and such. If you support or recommend a product and have put up pages about that product or service, then create a Google+ page for this and then share the link here for your content (a lot like Facebook or Twitter). But in this case, the links don't disappear, since Google is hosting it on their servers.

Now, if you have a site for that product, then create a badge from that Google page and plop that code down in the sidebar. Voila - you are now the authority for that content as well.

So if you have several sites, you create Google+ pages, share the links, and plop the badge on those different sites. Don't forget to put your link on that page to your site - it goes right under the logo you use. (Nothing like a backlink from Google to make your day, eh?)

Both on their pages and your profile, you can link all your other sites in. Of course, this makes your blogger blog have more seniority, doesn't it? Not bad for free.

- - - -

There's really too much to discuss here. I've touched on the basics we are going to use later in our "secret sauce" sub-series.

The freebie today is called the Google Plus Marketing Landscape - a collection of data from someone who is an online geek from beyond. While you can get it from his site, I've left all his links in and encourage you to visit it just to get a feel of what he knows. (His style of content isn't what I cherish, so I opted out after awhile...)

Your daily assignment is to create a Google Account if you don't have one and play around with their profiles and pages. If you want, you can start linking in your content so others can find it on Google.

Now I don't go into these "circles" things. But I'll leave you to search for them, as there is quite a bit of discussion on them. Hint: pages can't "circle" people. But you can find "shared circles" of just brands and pages to use for your pages to increase their authority. (It's just branding after all...) Active brands will include you're brand in their circles, particularly if you've shared some good content on your G+ page.