+1 Problems & Preparing for +1 Targeting

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Over the past week, Google has made it very clear that they do not want businesses creating G+ profiles, because, as they have noted, their current structure isn’t meant for businesses.  Fear not, businesses, for Google has something in the works and undoubtedly it will affect advertisers.  What exactly Google has lined up, I’m not sure – your guess is as good as mine and I’d love to hear your predictions.  (As always, feel free to use the comment section as a discussion forum.)  In exchange, here are some of my guesses as to what G+ business profiles will include:

  • Lead forms at first, likely followed by e-commerce, which will both be easily trackable in Analytics without additional tracking, of course.
  • Likely some impact on SEO, based upon the content shared – although I think any and all content shared on G+, regardless of whether it originated from a business profile, will be rewarded organically.
  • A link to AdWords, in order to specifically target certain circles.
  • Of course everything Google is already doing will be tied in as well: maps, locations, click-to-call, etc.

If you’re interested in piloting, sign up to be a Beta tester for G+’s business profiles. (Note: all testing profiles will be deleted at the end of the test.)

Again, with the knowledge that G+ has something on the way for businesses, that they seem pretty excited about, I’d say it’s safe to assume that it will affect advertisers.  I think it is also pretty likely that we will soon be able to target G+ users and, more specifically, people that have +1’d our pages.  Whether targeting options regarding G+ users and +1’s, is in the near future or later in the year is still unclear, however, I think we can all agree that something will be headed our way soon.

What does that mean for advertisers, today?  Get ready.

There are a few things to note.  If you’re already using AdWords and you’re using it well, following Google’s suggestions: specifically, utilizing multiple landing pages based upon different keywords, then you may want to sit down.  If you’re like me, as you read on, you may find a few details regarding the +1 feature frustrating and I will try my best to help you understand the different ways of implementing in order to suit your needs.

Although +1 reporting is not yet available, the button is already appearing next to ads.  Ideally, this is great.  What could possibly be better than incorporating viral marketing into paid search?  Viral marketing is, as Google notes, a cheap and reliable form of advertising.   I would agree but, at the same time, viral marketing must be done right.  Before we move on, you must note that when an ad is +1’d, it is not actually the ad that receives the +1 but the destination URL.  So, essentially what people are saying is “This URL helped me find what I was looking for.” (Aside: users won’t actually know that until they go to the page – not after just reading the ad, so it is helpful to include +1 on the page itself, as well.)

I’m sure the wheels are turning in your head but here’s the kicker: each landing page will be counted as a different page because they have different URLs.  Also, if you have additional tracking appended to your URLs for more intense data analysis, Google will recognize this as a different URL but we’ll talk about how to resolve that in a moment.

In my opinion, if you’ve created several landing pages, as Google suggests, in order to meet the needs of every user and to maintain high quality scores, then you’re kind of getting screwed.  At this point, I’m seeing +1’s trickle in slowly, I don’t see any pages with mass amounts of +1’s, although it may have a boost once more people sign up for G+.  Thus, if you have multiple landing pages, the few +1’s that you do receive will be spread throughout the site, a few here and a few there, so although you may have a healthy 15 +1’s for your services, each page may only have 3 or less.  A competitor that uses their home page for their landing page may only have five +1’s total but it will look as though they have more than you, since they are all on the same page and that is the page that they use to advertise.

If you can pick the most important page, you can use  canonical tags to redirect your +1’s to a specific page but in many cases there isn’t necessarily one page that is “better” than another page.  Also, if you do use a canonical tag, remember that all other URLs, aside from ‘the chosen one’, won’t show +1 if they appear in the SERPs for ads or for organic because their +1’s are trickling through the canonical tag to the other page, so that negates the value of the +1 for advertisers.

Remember, although it isn’t possible yet, it likely will be possible to target people that have +1’d your page so you probably don’t want to send all the +1’s of various products to your home page just to boost your home page.  In the future, I assume you will want to know where your +1’s are coming from.  I wish, however, that product categories could share +1’s without having to send all traffic to the main category page or canonicalizing all pages within the category.

In e-commerce it would be especially helpful to have different +1’s for each product, but many lead gen clients use multiple landing pages with content that is similar but yet different enough to warrant different landing pages, so it’s frustrating that the +1’s are scattered throughout.

Handling Parameters

Also, as previously noted, any additional tracking will be treated as a separate URL but you can use Google’s parameter handling to ask Google to ignore up to 15 parameters. If you use session i.d.’s you’ll definitely want to use parameter handling because each page will technically never show up again.  Note: Google treats this as a suggestion, so it may or may not ignore the parameters.

So what do we do, Amy?

Well, that depends.  It’s important to note that the +1’s stick with a URL.  So, if your URL is clicked when it shows up in organic results, it later will show up for ads and vice versa.  So, if your landing pages aren’t indexed, you may want to add canonical tags to your landing pages, redirecting the +1 value to the actual site, which will boost your SEO.  Unfortunately, that devalues your paid search from a +1 standpoint.  Maybe its best to leave your pages alone and see what Google has in store for +1 targeting.  At the very least, I would consider utilizing the parameter handling to ensure that your +1’s aren’t entirely scattered.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  • http://seoedinburgh.co.uk Andrew Baker

    Hi Amy, great post I can’t say categorically but since I’ve been using G+ my website which shares my G+ profile has moved from 4th to 1st in the SERPs for a fairly competitive keyword. I’d been stuck there for a good few months, I leap frogged the top site (that has around 3K links where I have about 400)…

    Is there benefit from actively using G+, who cant say 100% yes but I believe it may be more than just coincidence.

    Andrew

     

    • Anonymous

      That’s awesome!  I completely agree there are benefits, which is why I wish that those benefits could be shared across similar landing pages.  It would be in the advertisers benefit, because they could truly flaunt all of their +1’s for similar pages, which we’ll call a category.  At the same time, the advertiser may want to target based upon those +1’s so they wouldn’t want to share them across the entire page.  Think of it as different conversion types.  It would also benefit the consumer because they could truly make good comparisons by seeing apples to apples which advertiser has more likes for a certain topic.  In example, an advertiser such as yourself may have several landing pages for your SEO services but your competitor may take people straight to their landing page.  If someone searches ‘local SEO’ you want them to see all of the +1s you received for landing pages about your SEO services, especially if it now appears that your competitor has more just because all of theirs are on their home page.

      • http://www.joshkelson.com Joshkelson

        I don’t think that spreading +1’s across multiple pages is a bad thing and my gut says it will actually be more beneficial in the long run. My hunch is that it will be viewed by Google similar to deep linking is in SEO and having multiple pages with +1’s will improve the overall credibility of the site and thus it’s rankings. DO NOT use a canonical to direct that +1 juice all to one page like the home page – this is not what the canonical link is used for and using a canonical to “shape” your +1 juice will surely get your ranking tanked (in my experience I have seen sites go from top 5 to 100+ by improperly using the canonical tag to shape link juice).

        Overall a very good post, I’m excited to see how +1 plays into SEO/SEM in all ways…and a bit nervous at the same time :)

        Thanks Amy for a great post!

        • Anonymous

          Thanks, Josh! I agree +1’s would be great across pages of the site but not necessarily landing pages.  Often landing pages are very similar but still different and have different URLs.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend sending all of your juice to the home page because it will make it harder to target later, if targeting by +1 becomes an option.  However, it may be beneficial to transfer +1’s from a landing page to a similar page on the actual site, if landing pages aren’t indexed, so that you can reap the SEO benefits of it.  Unfortunately, like I said, that would nullify the advertising benefits in regard to the +1.  Decisions, decisions!

          Thanks for reading and, moreover, thanks for commenting!

          • http://www.joshkelson.com Joshkelson

            Most likely your landing pages are being indexed (unless you are doing a noindex, nofollow). If they aren’t being indexed, it probably has no SEO benefit at all doing a rel canonical anyway, because the page probably isn’t even being regarded very highly or scanned very thoroughly if your page isn’t indexed. Also, the rel canonical is a tag used to clear up issues about duplicate content. While Google has said that there can be slight variances of content, mis-using the tag to “shape” link juice or +1 juice I think will result in negative effects. Make sure you are using the rel canonical correctly.

            If you are using a landing page with similar content and a constant URL (ie: http://www.x.com/ppc/testpage) and changing content for testing purposes (keeping the same theme/URL – ie: a page about ppc stays about ppc and has only slightly different content than the main ppc page, but perhaps the organization changes, offers change, slight content, etc) then I would say you could do a rel canonical and pass that juice to the main page without being penalized.

            My thoughts would be to create pages within the site to use as landing pages. Any test landing pages that use the rel canonical tag should be pretty similar in content according to Google (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html)

            Love this article Amy…gets the thoughts and excitement going for the future of +1 :)

          • Anonymous

            Thanks for reading, Josh, and, more importantly, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Very helpful!

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  • http://righteousmarketing.com robertbrady

    Dang you Google for making my life more complicated than it already is!!!

    Amy – You bring up some great points and as this becomes more widespread I’ll be interested to hear what PPCers are doing with this.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reading, Robert! I look forward to what Google has in store and I’m very interested to see how PPC-ers use it to their advantage.  I’m also interested to see if people keep their +1’s where they are, or move them and why.

  • Saija Mahon

    My head is spinning after that!! Thank you for the very interesting article, I think interesting things will come out of this +1 and G+. It definitely was not as uncomplicated that I thought it would have been!! 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reading, Saija! Let’s hope Google finds a way to simplify it before targeting by +1, or anything of the sort, rolls out! I’m looking forward to whatever is around the bend!

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