Google+ Growing Your Social Network: Quantity vs. Quality

There is an ongoing discussion trying to better understand what Google+ brings to the table. Recently, the stats were released that Google+ now has 90M users and about 60% log in every day.

Will Google+ ever be that “Facebook killer” that everyone keeps speculating? That has yet to be demonstrated. My hunch is that it won’t. Not because it can’t, but because I am not convinced that was ever the goal of Google+.

Search and Social Goober Hybrid

Recent algorithm changes, namely Google + your world, support what I am speculating. We are seeing a cross between Search and Social like never before.

Not A Facebook Killer

This leads me to believe that Google may be building a network simply to enhance our search results, not necessarily to kill Facebook.

The concept of a social graph, which was brought to life by Facebook, may be what Google is really creating. But not for the Social network; for relevance in the search results.

Enhanced Relevant Results From Google

Google has always been about relevance, and if information I tell Google enhances that relevance, then the search engine provides a better user experience .

As an offshoot, there is a network for people to congregate on. Over time, I see this getting baked further into the search engine results as well (think social notations alongside listings).

Personal Search vs. Incognito example


There is a gut feeling most marketers have, but I have yet to come across any research indicating which is better: the amount of followers any one person has, or if  they have fewer followers, but more relevant and authoritative in quality.

In a recent adage article, Bob Knorpp from The BeanCast discusses how creating a user base built off likes, re-tweets, shares, +1s etc. is very similar to the traditional media method of creating and building an audience. He goes on to say these connections don’t measure the quality of the relationship, but there is basis to growing that user base.

Personally, I have always been a strong believer that the amount of followers you have on any given network is irrelevant if the interaction is not there.

But with these changes happening, and Google’s unique approach to social connections, I have come to think that there is basis for marketers to grow their user base, even if interactions are limited.

The Catch

I don’t mean to imply at all that the amount of followers should be the end all be all metric. However, we now see added integration means heightened brand visibility in the SERP. This is added visibility is due to the connections you have made.

Search and Social Magic Chia Pet Solution

Sadly, there is no magic spell or “chia pet” solution to grow your network.

Typically, the only way to grow your audience is through hard work, creative content and engaging users. Most of us don’t have the luxury or global brand recognition to create an account and instantly gain a following.

As marketers,we still need to “actively” grow our audiences. For global brands like +starbucks, people will connect simply because of who they are; they have this luxury.

But for the rest of us, you need to give them a reason to ‘want’ and add you. This of course, is the argument for adding in solid content.

Do’s & Don’ts For Success

While growing your audience is important, pluses and likes for the sake of pluses and likes may have short term benefits, but they aren’t productive. To successfully build the network, there needs to be meaningful interactive engagements.

The spam market has picked up on these benefits and the social media spam market has emerged to reap the benefits. A guy even legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg to try and capture audiences.

There is no precise formula for success, there are tips to help lead you in the right direction as well as rules that if you violate will be a sure fire way to hinder performance.

Follow these simple rules and you are sure to grow your audience while pleasing the search engine.



Do Create Unique Content Don’t Plagiarize
Do Create Useful Content Don’t Spam or Share Useless Content
Do Create Helpful Content Don’t take the ‘social’ out of ‘Social Media’. Keep it human
Do Understand your Audience and Separate them into Circles Don’t buy “likes” or “+1’s”
Do treat your social audience just as you would any direct offline promotion (contests, incentives to further their engagement) Don’t Neglect your networks. Leverage them, understand what makes them tick.
Do take advantage of social measurement metrics like Facebook Insights to understand your network Don’t use generic pics or un-identifiably ‘your brand’ images for your profile

In order to increase visibility in the SERP, there should be a big push to grow your audience base. Search engines will have to evolve to determine what the nature and strength of the relationship. Search engines will also have to evolve to understand the quality of a like rather than just a like in and of itself.

For now, do what you can to grow this user base as large as you possibly can. But, do not be useless to your audience.

Do you have anything to add to the list?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Director of SEO for Kahena, a Digital Marketing agency focused on sustainable SEO, vertical search optimization, and online advertising. At KDM, he leads strategy for all accounts and is experienced in SEO ranging from local, digital marketing, to national and global search marketing. Aaron also specializes in social media strategy development and its convergence with SEO, content creation, image and video optimization. Follow him on Twitter @AaronFriedman.

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  • erikeric

    Good summary of the importance of creating quality content and value to drive real engagement, and Google’s potential to measure that. However, I take issue with the fact that in order to bring this unique relevance to Google SERPs one has to do so via Google+. If someone is creating genuine value and engagement on Facebook or Twitter, then that should show in the SERPs as well. Google doesn’t necessarily need a “special relationship” to do that and its insistence on artificially showing Google+ content over other, more relevant content in its auto-suggest and regular SERPs is simply a way to strong-arm users and brands into using their service over other more popular ones. So I think Google definitely wants to see Google+ as the #1 social network, and it’s going to try to accomplish that with Search Plus Your World. It’s naive to think otherwise.

    Remember Knol? Google has started to act like the behemoth it is and no longer cares to push users to the most relevant content outside of its walls, it wants Google users to say within their garden as long as possible. This is in direct opposition to Larry Page’s own goal for the “portal.”

  • Judy Caroll

    Hi Aaron,

    Very insightful. And I like what you said about meaningful interactive engagements. The problem with some marketers is the fact that they use social media as another “channel” to sell more stuff and forget about the idea why they are “out there” in the first place. To get social means to interact, to listen, and to add value to the community. And also quantity of quality for me wins. It would be much better if we are able to build both quantity and quality of interactive engagements. Thanks for all the knowledge.



  • Nick Stamoulis

    Many businesses still haven’t joined Google+. Some felt like dealing with another social network was too much work and others didn’t join because their audience wasn’t really using it. What it comes down to is that Google+ isn’t just a social network. Its data has search ranking implications, which means that you need to get involved.

  • Aaron Friedman

    erikeric, I hear your point and I cant say I disagree with you. As Danny has shown over and over, there is clearly a bias coming from Google on this. But as marketers, I think this goes to support why we should be paying attention to G+ since it does affect the engines so much. But yes, they certainly do seem to have lost sight a bit of the importance of their core product. Time will tell on this.

    And to touch on Judy’s point above as well, I think most marketers would agree that the end goal in many situations is to “sell more stuff” but that doesn’t have to come at the expense of quality. Take the field of dream approach; “if you build it, they will come”.

    And Nick, spot on! Given everything we are seeing, its a wonder why brands and businesses haven’t joined yet.

    Thanks for reading everyone! There should be more to come soon :)
    Feel free to connect with me on twitter @aaronfriedman



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