It feels like Google has been changing or updating things on a weekly basis for six months or so. One of the biggest changes being Google+ becoming more apparent in the SERPs [search engine results pages]. It seems whether we like it or not Google is going to keep twisting everyone’s arms into getting a Google+, and to start that off they’re going straight for the webmasters. If you’re not keeping up and your Google+ is not optimized, be prepared to lose your rank while your competitors’ ranks go up.
Linking out to all your other social profiles and websites is essential for creating a well optimized Google+ profile. Eric Ward (one of the biggest leaders and speakers in the search engine marketing industry) says that every page you’re posting on should be easy for the user to share on whatever social network they’re using.
Your avatar is like the logo for your website, it’s the first thing people see and they will immediately know whether this is a professional profile or something they will skip over. This isn’t MySpace, so you’re not going to want to take some mirror pic with your Razr cell phone. It is wise to invest in a photographer or at least take the time to get a proper profile pic. While you’re thinking of what you’re profile pic will look like, consider how this profile image will show up in SERPs – which I will be explaining next.
The Importance of Author Rank
As mentioned before, this is the introduction of Google integrating social media into the search queries. From a conversion standpoint, a link listed in the search engine with an image (your profile picture) next to it will probably be clicked more than one without a pic. If the author is willing to show his or her face and stand-by his or her article, Google will trust that content more. From another standpoint, it will bring more traffic to your other articles because if the viewers liked what they read they will probably be willing to check out your other posts. Ultimately, you have the ability to become more of an authority content writer in your niche.
Optimizing your site for Google+
Now that you have a hopefully professional and optimized Google+ profile, it’s time to optimize your website for Google+. Google explains pretty well how to do that on their webmaster help page (edit 9/13/2012: dead link removed) But to sum it up, you will need to build an author page that is linked to your Google+ profile. I would take the time at this point to put all the other social networks you’re involved in on your author page. Each post you create will have to contain a link to your author page on your site, or if you write for another site, you should include a link to your Google+ profile to achieve author rank.
This is only the beginning of what Google will do to make social a bigger thing in the search queries. Who knows what they will do next to integrate it more, but it is for certain that they will continue making social an influence on what ranks and what doesn’t. It’s better to be ahead of the curve and make sure that your website is prevalent on all social media sites.