[#SESDENVER] Could Google+ Be the Future of SEO?

As Google’s Hummingbird update places more weight on social signals for search rankings, Google+ could become more important for marketers looking to boost SEO.

In an SES Denver panel discussion titled “Insights Into Future Search Trends,” Merry Morud, social advertising director for aimClear, said that social signals have replaced links in importance for SEO. “In the old days of SEO, link-building was the ultimate, but with social, SEO becomes democratized, more of an aggregate of symbols and authority.”

Because of these changes in the way search is ranked, Google+ might become a more important tool than Facebook for marketers looking to see a rise in their rankings. “Google+ is not a joke,” said Morud. “It’s not going away. If you are not active in Google+, start now. Google gets its purest social signals in Google+, and they can often impact SEO more than Facebook.”

And as advertisers see recommendations from Facebook count for less in terms of social signals in search, their ads on the platform could be further impacted by rampant “accidental clicks” on mobile, which could lead to inaccurate data.

“For social ad placements in mobile, Facebook creates desktop, mobile, and Right-Rail ads, but they heavily weight for mobile views,” said Morud. The problem with the uneven weighting is that “accidental clicks happen a lot. There’s a lot of discrepancy between clicks and actual website visits.” For example, one of Morud’s clients found that of Facebook’s reported 850 ad clicks, only four came from desktop, which indicates that many of the clicks may have happened by mistake. The discrepancy, according to Morud, could be attributed to what she termed “fat finger syndrome,” or accidental clicks that don’t actually result in page views.

To manage this, Cindy Krum, founder and chief executive (CEO) of MobileMoxie, encouraged Facebook advertisers to test ads across devices before pushing live, because many ads are ineffective on mobile. As an example, she used Stuart Weitzman’s “Design Your Own Loafers” landing page, which offered users an interactive design experience. However, “Facebook mobile couldn’t handle Ajax and JavaScript,” so users were abandoning the page when it wouldn’t load. “Test, test, test,” Krum said, “if you’re paying for Facebook ads expecting to be shown to mobile users.”

These problems downloading ads on mobile and the sheer volume of ads on Facebook could be driving users toward Google+. “Facebook is getting too busy,” Morud said. “People are outgrowing [the platform]. Google+ being ad-free is going to be a plus for them.”

Now that social signals count toward SEO rankings, advertisers can no longer afford to ignore their presence on Google+, according to Morud. “Google is going to make social signals from Google+ so important that they can’t be denied,” she said.

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