Andrew Shotland is the Proprietor of Local SEO Guide.com, a premier enterprise and local SEO consulting company. Andrew runs the popular Local SEO Guide blog and is also a regular writer for SearchEngineLand. He will be speaking this fall at SMX East and BIA Kelsey’s SMB Digital Marketing 2012.
Yesterday I stumbled upon a new update to Google’s Knowledge Graph, the information section that sometimes shows up in the top-right corner of a Google SERP when Google has a summary of information related to the query. Brands that are verified on Google+ are getting Knowledge-Graph-like displays on their Google+ activity for queries that are closely associated with the brand.
Here are some example searches and their new results:
What Triggers These Results?
1. It appears that the brand has to have a verified Google+ account to trigger this, but not all verified brands have one yet.
2. As far as I can tell it’s only showing up for “active” Google+ accounts, providing a huge incentive for brands to get active on G+.
3. It also appears that the brand must rank #1 for the query.
4. The query needs to be closely associated with the brand. In the above examples, it’s interesting that Coupons.com, the more generic brand, gets the Knowledge Graph treatment for more variations than Angies List, which is a much more unique brand name. My guess is this is a temporary glitch that will be fixed in the future.
What Does This Mean For Brands?
1. While I can see the value of these results for users, this development seems like a key component of Google’s strategy to increase the profile of Google+ and lure more users. Brand activity was a big part of Facebook’s and Twitter’s success, so I would imagine that Google is hoping to capitalize on the same by providing big incentives to brands to get busy on Google+.
2. For companies with generic brands, achieving a Knowledge Graph box on a SERP related to your brand could help capture a lot more organic traffic for these generic queries by pushing the advertising down and making a click hard to avoid. In the “coupons” example, you can see now that Coupons.com dominates the top of the SERP, particularly because they are buying ads against this query as well:
3. Given the above, for brands with generic names, getting active on Google+ so that you can achieve verified brand status may be both a great defensive move and a profitable one. If you can achieve Google Knowledge Graph status, you may see are large increase in traffic.
4. Even if you do not have a generic brand, getting this kind of placement on a SERP could mean much greater exposure for your Google+ profile, which provides a greater opportunity to craft the SERPs to expose your brand’s key messages via the exposed Google+ stream.
So What Can You Do?
Right now the only way to achieve these results is to have a verified brand on Google+ and to be active on the service. In the near term, I doubt we are going to see this rolled out to a large number of brands, but I would expect by the beginning of 2013, this system will be available to many more Google+ accounts. And while it can be hard to prioritize Google+ activity vs. more mature social networks, the Knowledge Graph potential seems like a very enticing carrot. At the least, do the following:
– Make sure your company has an official Google Plus for Business account
– Connect your Google+ profile with your site via Rel=Author tags so that your Google+ profile pic can show up next to your URLs in the SERPs.
– Connect with customers and other relevant users on Google+. Invite your customers and other connections who are not already on Google+ to connect with you there.
– If you don’t have the resources to be super-active on Google+ but you have a WordPress site, you can try to set up auto-posting to your Google+ feed with your latest posts by using this plugin. That said, it would probably be better to manually update your feed to avoid tripping any spam filters, and to not look like an auto-posting robot to your Google+ followers.
As this service evolves, I am sure there will be many more opportunities to take advantage of Google+’s SERP-dominating features. So stay tuned!