Is Google+ turning us into spammers?

Back in the day (say, early 2000′s) a very loose definition of spam was, “Utilizing a technique where the only benefit was to gain search engine rankings.”

Now, I want to ask how many people have recommended jumping on the Google+ bandwagon to their clients.

Not because their target market is on Google+

Not because it will help the client drive leads or sales.

But because being on Google+ has enough perceived search engine benefit that you pretty much have to do it.

Feeling like a spammer yet? :)

The post, Google+, Plus or Minus for SEO’s, Users, really got me thinking. The article cites findings from RJMetrics, which include:

  • The average post has one +1, less than one re-share and one reply.
  • People posting publicly-viewable posts wait an average of 12 days between posts.
  • 30% of people post once. Just once.

You could argue, “But Heather, Google+ reports 150 million active users. That’s a big number.”

It’s not just about size, though. It’s about relevancy.  I could put a flyer under 150,000 car windshields, but it wouldn’t be “relevant, targeted” marketing.  The reality is, Google+ is not where conversions (or even conversations) are happening for most businesses. Facebook? Sure. LinkedIn? Yes. Twitter? You bet.

But Google+? Not so much.

But here’s the thing:  We’re on Google+ (and we tell our clients to do it,) because we know that’s what Google wants (and rewards.)

According to the article:

Google+ and your Google circles influence personalized search results for users such as +1 for a page, a brand being part of your circles, or the potential authority of your Google+ account (speculation). In turn, this will affect a brand or sites personalized rankings….

…Even though Google+ isn’t the most dominant platform right now, it definitely is the most impactful for organic search traffic and measurement.

So, we know that Google+ won’t necessarily help us land more business (at least, not like Facebook or Twitter,) but we do it because it’s “impactful for organic search traffic.” Even Danny Sullivan has reported that Google pushes Google+ over relevancy.

It almost feels like article marketing. It never really worked well, nor did it drive targeted traffic…but people did it for the links.

Does Google+ have some advantages to the searcher? Perhaps. It’s true that the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found that 65 percent of respondents thought that “personalized search is bad, as it may limit the information you get online and the information you see.” At the same time, some could argue that if a reader sees that someone in their Circles has +1′ed something, that something could be highly relevant – and the searcher will click on the link.

That’s assuming, of course, that people within their Circles have actually, you know posted something on Google+.

I see more of a business-building impact happening when Google+ is a more mainstream social network – one that people organically gravitate to (like Pinterest) rather than being forced to sign up.

In a perfect world, I would love to see Google+ “work” across-the-board as a social network. But that day isn’t today. Not for the most part. Right now, it’s more of an SEO tactic – not a place where (most) people share information.

What do you think?

(And yes, of course SuccessWorks has a Google+ page! What, are you crazy? You can access it here.)