Should You Do Linkbuilding to Your G+ Page for Local?

equityMiriam Ellis of Solas Web Design asked me the other day to revisit the question of whether one should “build links to their G+ Page for local“.

Often this question is asked from the wrong frame of reference.

Unlike the Google Places page, a Google + Page is indexed and CAN have page rank. The page can appear in the Google index and Mark Trapenhagen has documented cases where a + Page has achieved a PR of 8. As such it is tempting to ask the question of whether  one should do link building to G+ Plus page.

“Should I link build to my Google + Page” carries with it an implicit premise in the question that a business will benefit from arbitrarily building links to a given page. In that is the simplistic assumption that ends up focusing efforts on the wrong target. An example of this thinking is the corollary question: “Will linking to the page help my local listing rank better”?

The simple answer to that question is no as the local algo looks at the strength of the “authority document” to assess ranking and that authority document is the business website. And if having a higher PR for G+ Page for local provided any value in that regard it would be a tangental benefit as a citation that passes some location strength back to your website.

A different way to ask the question that may frame it more effectively: Is there a benefit to my marketing or my readers to include a link to my Google + Page?

And the other question that puts it in the bigger context: Should I build the strength and presence of my Google + Page via Google’s social network? Will marketing my company on G+ enhance my overall marketing effort?

Lets deal with them in order. Google has put in place what are and will become legitimate reasons that carry significant benefits to an individual and a business to create links to their respective G+ Pages from the business website.

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 7.51.19 AMIn an effort to associate an individual that Google has information about with their content around the web, they offer up the Authorship relationship (mutual linking from your individual Plus page to your website and back again). The benefits of having your author photo are well documented. The author image and social annotations clearly give your search results an advantage when Google shows them in the results. Google has published research that documents this affect.

While the publisher relationship (a reciprocal link between your website and the business G+ page using the rel=publisher tag) has not really expanded by Google beyond the publishing industry Google has been encouraging the activity  for local businesses. Recent tests to include publisher images in the search result indicate that its benefit will soon increase for every website in much the same way that the rel=Author relationship has.

So unlike having a website link to a Places page, there is a Google endorsed benefit to a business to have a link to their respective personal and business G+ Pages.

Another  reader focused benefit that was true with a Place page as well is that a business may also want to direct a client to their G+ Page for local to leave a review via a link on their website.

The question of whether you should go out and put time, money and effort into “link building” to your Google + Page, really seems like a question that distracts from the task at hand, marketing your business to an appropriate audience. It isn’t all that hard to get your Plus page to show on the front page for a brand search for your company. That hardly seems to be an effort that creates significant benefit to your business unless you are using the tactic to push unsavory results from the front page of Google.

But other than the possible reputation management benefit, how exactly would explicit link building to the page benefit your company? It takes time and or money to build links and it would seem to me that for the most part promoting a content thin G+ Page offers little of comparative benefit to a business.

On the other hand we also know that Google will readily show interesting and fresh G+ Plus content in the search results. This diversified content can attract shares, pluses and links to your G+ Page that will populate the Google search results and will expand the visibility of your content and hopefully your business. This is much like blogging. If you have great content on your G+ page it will attract attention both within the context of the Google social environment AND gain visibility on the search results. This offsite content at G+ can and does pass visitors back to your main website. The link graph is very unique to a G+ page, obvious to Google and not one that is easily forged by “link building”.

However rather than thinking about “linking to your G+ Page” you need to think about a social presence on G+ much like one would think about guest blogging. It has a place in the pantheon of marketing technologies. It can increase a business’s visibility across platforms that you might not be able to get short haul from your own blog. It can help build the strength of your website and your own blog while instantly increasing your exposure in the main search results. Thus it has a real place in an overall marketing approach.

But even in that scenario you need to be cautious. Building the content on other’s websites is a short haul tactic while you build out the strength of your own site. Long haul it doesn’t replace building out the ever green content and the effectiveness of your own site. It is a great complimentary strategy but not a replacement strategy to building the equity of web content that you own.

I think that building a strong G+ presence makes sense. It attracts pluses, shares, links and all of that can pass strength and visitors back to your own site. But even with this tactic you need to take caution and not necessarily rush in. Has a business implemented the other, long haul sustainable marketing infrastructure that takes less effort and provides more returns than a social presence? Does the business website have really useful content? Is the businesses’ NAP clean and accurate across the whole internet? Are they gathering and actively using email marketing? Are they actively collecting customer feedback and funneling customers into the review process? Are they generating fresh content on their own blog?

Those are all opportunities that should be mined before you think about “link building” to your G+ page. And when you do start promoting your G+ Page as a social presence doing it in a way that impacts your overall marketing and benefits your client is probably the best way to do so.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Should You Do Linkbuilding to Your G+ Page for Local? by

25 thoughts on “Should You Do Linkbuilding to Your G+ Page for Local?”

  1. Any experience making a G+ profile / page the authority document? Just curious.

  2. @Gyl
    That would require that you NOT include your own business URL on your profile. Essentially you would be giving up your website presence to the G+ Page. I haven’t tried it. It might work IF you do all the things for that page that you do for a website… I would hardly trust Google with my crown jewels though.

  3. Great answer, Mike. It is nice that you have focused more on the “why” side of the problem rather than on the “if” side.

  4. @Jim

    Google is going to automatically assign a website to the +Page in most situations. To give your + Page any significant location prominence you would need to use the G+ URL at all of the directories and primary data suppliers.

    That hardly seems an interesting experiment for any business that I can think of.

  5. Great article as always Mike. I have been a big advocate of building social signals over link building ever since the Penguin/Panda updates – It’s done wonders for my local clients and is amazing how much easier and more fun it is than link building.

  6. My take; forget about ‘link building’ to your G+ Page or Profile.
    For now, linking back to your G+ Page, making it easier for users to see and post reviews, is a good idea. Now, and more likely (and more importantly) later, becoming active within G+ will add strength to your Profile and Page.

  7. Over many years and to this day it is incredibly valuable to link to the site. How Google treats the google + page with regard to its ranking and presentation on the (hopefully first page -top results) is up to Google and quite possibly keeps changing.

    As of June 25th when a change in the overall algo switch I saw several of those smb’s I’ve been tracking for years move from an organic listing above the PAC for SEVERAL different phrases relating to its service/city to #1 within the PAC. Another moved from #1 in the PAC to top organic listing above the PAC.

    The sites and smbs are among those smart examples of out of the box smart link building that created powerful links into the site. Some of those links go to the page connected to google + page. Some go to internal pages.

    The net results are the sites visibility and ranking over time dance between being above the PAC in a #1 organic ranking or at #1 in the PAC.

    I’ve been following some sites for years. Some of them coincide with the earliest days of Google Maps and Google Places…but these continuously strong sites relative to their competition do have powerful link profiles into their sites…and how google shows them sometimes jumps between organic above the PAC or at #1 inside the PAC.

    After all is said and done I’d build links into a site when possible. Today though the link impact is very different from years before.

    Some things that used to work are now considered penalties (too much anchor text, links from bs crappy non authoritative sites like crappy directories, etc.)

    But when google is taking a site with a strong link profile and moving it either above the PAC or at #1 inside the PAC….that is a signal to take a hard look at authoritative links well above the competition.

    BTW: I’ve also looked at volume of citations for those sites. Their citation totals or possible authority don’t appear to be as positively skewed better than the competition than does the link profile.

    Now this response sidesteps the question of links to the Google + page…but it addresses links to the site…..and frankly links to the site can push you up in the PAC if you follow those sites I’ve been following.

    Dave

  8. Awesome post … the key is : be social, by doing that we can get backlinks and citations on many authority and relevant places to our business site

  9. I am sure you can rank a Google+ page just like you can rank a video or a Facebook page. I personally haven’t tried ranking the Google+ pages, by building links to it, but you wouldn’t most likely need to build very many links.

    I’d probably say…. Just participate. Every time you comment, reshare, etc you are building links with your Google+ Local page in the Google+ eco system it then passes pagerank and link luv back to your Google+ local page. Just like it does on YouTube and other sites like tumblr.com… or at least… that is what i believe happens.

    Also the only page I see that is indexed in Google+ pages is the about page which has a pretty crappy auto generated Title Tag and pulls a small snippet from your about sections as the meta description. So hard to do any on-page SEO.

    Still might be worth testing out. Maybe also test out ranking a single Google+ post.

  10. This is just terrific, Mike! This is a subject that really needed coverage, and you’ve done a beautiful job of discussing the logic behind this. Thank you so much for considering my suggestion. Terrific!

  11. Thanks Mike for covering this topic. It is definitely one that has been brought up on more than one occasion. The premise was that link weight pointed at local pages would drive more authority and ‘citations’ to the local listing, driving up the value it then passes to the client.

    I agree with you, the metrics and evaluation have likely completely changed.

    I would think that the quality of content that you publish around the Internet, and activity within that account, will likely yield improvements to overall authority.

    What are your thoughts on the best overall ways to improve authority for the G+ page to improve authority passing to the client?

  12. Best article on G+ for local I have ever seen. Thank you.

    I have been active on G+ and feel the benefits are the same as many social networks, relationship building and branding. I don’t discount th3e value of the added presence my site and client suites get in personnel results on Google.

    Nice job Mike, and thank you!

  13. I have noticed, like others may have, that when you make a link from your Google + page to your website and importantly a link back from the website to the Google + page that this improves the ranking of the page. I have only put a link to the website and then later a link back to the plus page and have seen that when I later added the back link from the site to the Google Plus page that it had a boosting effect. The question I would have is whether this is a general link signal or a specific signal Google uses to validate the importance of the Google Plus page. So therefore, maybe that link, but not other links boost the page.

    On the other hand, I believe Google has a sweet tooth for videos and other visual sites, and one SEO company called Free Traffic has created a Google + page booster where they submit a company video with tags plus the Google Plus URL to various sites (don’t know which ones). Just maybe this is another signal Google looks at for Google Plus page ranking.

  14. really good article Mike, thanks a lot for sharing your opinion. I think it makes sense to build connections versus the G+ page but this activity should’t stop the marketing team working on the main target: the website, because building connections to the website i think it is still more important

  15. Mike – for those business owners stuck in the hell of an upgraded dashboard/No Google+ page – do you recommend waiting for whenever they get around upgrading, or creating our own + page so we can do some of this link building, and then doing the gamble of combining them?

  16. @colleen

    I don’t see any benefit of creating a G+ Page now unless 1) you really, really need social or 2) you really, really need video.

    So I would wait.

  17. Thanks mike – 2 months of not being able to respond to reviews is getting on my nerves, I keep thinking there’s some sort of magical fix I am missing.

  18. @Colleen

    Your inability to respond to reviews is a function of the listing having been claimed into more than one account. And the other account is the dominant one that has the privilege of responding.

    Have you attempted to ascertain what other account it is claimed into?

  19. Thanks Mike for keeping us up-to-date on this possible link building strategy. I agree, though, that ranking your website and using your Google + presence to help do so is a better strategy for long term.

  20. This post does a great job of breaking down the do’s and don’ts of G+. I especially liked when you compared building a social presence on G+ to guest blogging.

  21. Hello Mike,

    I have read the article thoroughly. And it answered a lot of my questions and doubts I had in mind. Looking at the newer version of G+, where you have this Business Page features on a local page or whatever you call it (a page with both the features, etc.), I want to know your advice on what should be marketing strategy for this new page? The same old business page strategy or local oriented?

  22. @Anikait
    Thanks for your question. The question for me is how to your maximize your company’s presence on Google while minimizing expense, time and making sure that your web equity is increasing.

    So firstly I would suggest that you want to think about marketing your business and not marketing the Google + Page for local.

    Essentially the new G+ Page for local performs several functions (some more important than others) that benefit your business:
    1-It shows in local search results
    2-It (actually the dashboard) feeds data to the main search results providing that create the critical first impression with customers.
    3-It is landing page for your clients to leave you reviews

    4-It is a social page on which you can post and gain followers
    5-It is a page that show in the Google search results in and of its own right and thus can function in the capacity of controlling (or improving) your reputation by replacing less savory pages.

    1- Obviously having your G+ Page show in local search results is far and away the biggest benefit you can get from it. To increase that visibility you need to increase the prominence of your business every across the internet that Google uses to rank your business. That means you need to focus on building a great website that people link to, you get citations everywhere that matters, you get newspaper and blog articles singing your business’s praises and you get reviews at the many sites that Google looks at etc, etc etc. Improving the digital prominence of your will improve your rank and will make that G+ Local page pop in the search results.

    2-Having great photos, complete hours, reviews from around the web can really make your business listing stand out in the local search results. It is important that you add lots of excellent photos to your dashboard. That means picking a great profile photo which is the one photo most likely to be seen and adding a compelling cover photo as that is the second most likely image to be send. Many times searchers will immediately call your business from the search results based on the impression create on the main page of Google. They never get to see nor are they interested in seeing your social page.

    3-Obviously reviews play a big part in creating that strong first impression. That includes reviews at Google as well as reviews around the web. So it is important to have in place a plan that grows your reviews. Growing them at your Plus page has the benefit of not only improving the visibility of your listing in general search, it also improves the visibility of your listing in personalized search. When your customers leave reviews their friends are more likely to see your listing in the main search results and their review might be highlighted. What better way to increase exposure than have your customers do it for you?

    4-Using your G+ Page for Local as a social platform certainly doesn’t hurt. However given that many of your local customers are not yet there means that the benefit is not direct as they are unlikely to see your efforts. While I think it is a good long term play to be social on that page the cost benefit ratio of it today may or may not be that favorable at the moment. If you do take that route be sure that you do it in a way that engages your local clientele.

    5-Using your G+ Page for reputation management is the one scenario where it might make sense to do link building to the page as it will increase the page’s visibility in the search results. In general I would rather a searcher see my web results and go to my website than go to my G+ page as it is easier to track that activity and move them in a direction closer to a sale from there. But even in this scenario rather than link building externally in a forced fashion you might be better off creating great social content there and getting shared and linked to internally from other G+ users.

    Bottom line? Understand the role that the page plays in the bigger picture of your total marketing scheme… don’t get too wrapped up in the Google reality distortion field and take marketing actions that help you over the long haul.

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