But Isn’t Google+ a Ghost Town?

It’s not really true that Google+ is a ghost town.

It may turn out to be more like the new sub-division no one has moved into yet.

The reason is when you integrate your social media platform into search the way Google has with Google+, people are going to figure it out and start showing up.

How does Google integrate Google+ with search?

Most Social Media Updates Are Not Seen by Your Followers

An article on Marketingland.com documents a “view rate” on twitter of 1.85% and an engagement rate of .0923%. And twitter occasionally slams Facebook for their low engagement.

Why does  this happen? Because if everyone saw everything, there would be too much stuff in all our streams. So the social media sites “throttle” what we do and don’t see.

Doesn’t This Happen on Google+ Too?

Yes, but that misses the impact of integrating search with Google+.

While it’s true not everyone who follows you on Google+ see’s what you post, what you post:

  1. Is indexed by the Google search engine.
  2. Shows up in what is called Personalized Search.

What is This Personalized Search?

This is best explained by providing an example.

Let’s pretend I follow a lady named Jessica.

4 months ago Jessica created a Google+ update in which she shared a recipe for a vegan chocolate cream pie. At the time, I didn’t see it.

However, a few minutes ago I searched Google for vegan chocolate cream pie recipes, and Jessica’s Google+ update appeared third in my search engine result page.

Why did it appear third in my search engine result page? Because I follow her AND because her update matches my search.

If I had seen the post and +1’d it, then it would be available in the search results of not just me (because I follow Jessica) but it would be available in the search results of everyone who follows me.

That is personalized search.

To illustrate this point, I did the following.

I created a Google+ update which says only “Testing. Testing. This is just a test. Please ignore this post”.

You can see it below. Double click the image to enlarge it.

google+ personalized search
Google+ Update








Then in a different browser tab, I searched Google for the word “testing”. As you can see below, the GooglePlus update shows up in the Search Engine Result Page in position 3.

It even displays my picture (as used to occur with Google Authorship) thereby making it more visually obvious compared to the other results on the page.

Again, double click the image to enlarge it.

google+, personalized search, search engine result page
Example of a personalized SERP











Yet when I perform a Google search when NOT logged into any Google applications (gmail, calendar, etc) I see the exact same search result page, but without the Google+ update in question.

So while your Google+ update was seen by only a few of your followers at the time it was posted, when one of them does a search for a topic you’ve previously done a Google+ update (or two or twelve) for, they’ll see it in their search results, and that’s when it’s most relevant for them.

Who Else Knows This?

The people at Moz do. They periodically measure correlations between high ranking websites and various factors about that website.

Their most recent search engine ranking factors study (as compared to the one for local search) identifed Google+ +1’s as the factor with the highest correlation.

Their chart is shown below.


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