If you’ve explored Google+, whether from your personal account or the one you are using for your business, you’ve probably noticed the “What’s hot” button in the left-hand navigation. What is “What’s hot?” It’s another Google algorithm at work – selecting the most popular posts from across Google+ and compiling them into one place.
Currently, the “What’s hot” algorithm doesn’t take any personalization into account when displaying results. Although many of the posts may not be relevant to you, there are still the benefits of discovering new, interesting things and seeing what types of content are drawing everyone’s attention around the net.
That second point is important. The marketing benefits of getting your content featured as “hot” are great. You gain the potential of having your content seen, shared, and interacted with by the entire social network – even people who don’t have you in a circle. Being featured can definitely be considered a viral success. So, to appear in the feed, you must cater to user interests.
Google does not divulge what specific factors can push a piece of content into the “What’s hot” feed. However, a little observation and common sense indicate the piece has to have the makings of popularity. Nearly every single piece of hot content has an accompanying image and several comments. They also have lots of +1’s, as well as shares (although, these amounts may be skewed by appearing in the “What’s hot” feed – which will dramatically increase +1’s and shares just from sheer visibility).
By creating image based content that engages your users and invites a rapport with them, you increase your chances of appearing in the “What’s hot” feed. Monitor popular trends, and give your spin on it. As with all things SEO, quality content that considers the end user will win the day.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Google+ and Facebook these last few days. Google+ recently made its social network available to the public and Facebook had its F8 conference touting the new features that will be rolling out. Both Google+ and Facebook want to be the social media site that everyone goes to for social interaction. The real question is why? It could be because they want to boast that they have the most visitors, but Facebook (see the Computerworld article) already won that title. Plus, it’s safe to say that neither Facebook nor Google+ is improving their social media site for that warm and fuzzy feeling. So what’s the real reason? It could be that by reaching out to people, they are both competing for the attention of businesses and their advertising dollars.
Facebook and Google+ know that companies will pay top dollar to reach their target audience. Businesses already pay to reach their target audience, so what’s the big deal? The social media sites can use data and information to predict a user’s actions.
According to an article on CNET, Facebook’s “algorithm can determine what you’re likely to like based on who you like, what you do, where you go, which apps you use (and how), and so forth–all of which is information that Facebook will now collect through its own service and all the apps that are being built to run on it.” This is a game changer.
It means that Facebook and Google+ (at a later date) can help corporations pinpoint people who should be in their target audience based on their social behavior. This makes advertising dollars even more valuable. In the past people’s profile information, their interests and their “likes” determined which ads would be relevant. Now, their actual behavior and interactions will be watched and ads will be served based on those actions. Its one thing for a social media site to say a user is interested in country songs based on their status; it’s another thing to say that they listen to the song “Sweet Home Alabama” once a week. By collecting and providing more valuable data, a social media site can make itself of greater worth to advertisers. In fact, it can help advertisers adjust their strategy based on the data received. According to CNET, if this works, “Facebook is on its way to becoming the source of the most valuable information on the Web: who likes what, who they influence, and how to reach the people most likely to influence others (hint: go through their friends).”
It’s no wonder that Facebook and Google+ continue to attempt to out-do each other. In the end, it adds up to greater revenue for both companies.
Relatively speaking, Google’s +1 button is a new feature in search. However, it has already begun to affect searches in a big way. So much so, people have been trying to make, sadly, an unscrupulous business out of it.
Lately, sites have been springing up that offer to sell +1’s for your website. For a fee, you can get any where from 50 to several thousand unique clicks for the +1 button on your site – a practice which goes directly against Google’s quality guidelines. In the biz, its something we refer to as “back hat SEO.”
While tactics like this may be tempting, and can even provide some short term benefit, they can become detrimental or disastrous in the long run. In the case of buying +1’s for your site, there can be a number of ill-effects.
You may receive a penalization at a later date – Google prides itself on providing quality search results, and it doesn’t take kindly to those who try to game the system. If future algorithms can detect your purchased +1’s, you will have wasted your money and seriously harmed your website’s ranking in Google search.
It’s a spamming technique, and lowers quality – Consider what the +1 button is: a relevancy indicator to enhance social search. By paying a few hundred unrelated, non-relevant users to +1 your site, you can hurt your ranking in the long term and obscure your brand’s overall message to consumers.
It can mess up your analytics – The “audience report” in Google Analytics tells you the demographic and geographic information about users who’ve +1’d the pages on your site. It’s a great way to learn about your audience so you can cater to them better. Paying for a large amount of unnatural +1’s will skew this data and ruin your chances to find and target your actual, converting audience.
All of these negative aspects have the potential to harm your site. For long term success, you should always follow the best practices guidelines and stick to “white hat” SEO techniques.