Google’s Webmaster tools has been very dynamic recently along with all of the other big changes that have been going on at the ‘plex… It has been one of those dizzying weeks for SEO’s where we’re trying to get our bearings amid-st all of changes and predictions about what is to come. I want to highlight a recent change and point out why I think it is indicative of one of Google’s most effective strategies.
On June 30th, Google Webmaster Tools started incorporating search metrics from +1 into the data they share with webmasters. It isn’t just broad, generic data either, it includes JUICY details about how +1 has real impact on search results. These are the kind of metrics marketers crave, and they are built right into the tool. There is no need to try to pull the data into a spreadsheet, make some stretch assumptions, and marry it with reams of other data- the real deal data about the impact of social activity on search rankings and CTR is presented in a clear, usable format. Here are some of the metrics I love:
- +1 Annotated Impressions
- +1 Annotated Clicks
- CTR Impact with +1
- Internal +1′s (over time)
- External +1′s (over time)
- Which URL’s are getting +1′d
- Audience Demographics about who likes your content (age, gender, location!)
These are exactly the kinds of tools that can be helpful in creating great content. With transparent social metrics to provide feedback about how likable and viral content is (without using more 3rd party tools), content creators can focus their efforts on creating content that speaks more to the audience they serve, or find out who they are not reaching. SEO efforts can focus more directly on creating site designs and content that win more +1′s more often in a way that is measurable over time. Most well-run SEO campaigns are built around a CPA goal, but for brands and those with difficult to measure conversions, +1 metrics can now provide some concrete evidence as to if an SEO campaign is doing its job or not.
Like any web geek, I am twitterpated with the rollout of a new tool and more data… but I think the openness with social metrics impacting search means something greater. Google has gone to great lengths to embrace and empower the web marketing community- I believe with a strategic self-interest in mind. I can’t wait for the torrent of comments about how Google has made marketer’s lives difficult… but how much of that really is due to the marketer’s lack of discretion in the first place? With the rollout of +1 metrics, Google has yet again opened the kimono to the SEO community. I think that the rational here is simple- if you can keep all of the smartest, most vocal, well-connected marketers talking about Google this and Google that, using Google tools and working for Google certification, it creates great distance between them and other search engines. Believe it or not, SEO and SEM firms have an inordinate amount of influence about how the general public perceives and interacts with search technology. If all of the SEO’s in the world start telling their mom’s to start using Blekko, telling their big clients to worry about their Bing rankings, or incessantly blog about the beauty of Wolfram Alpha, eventually people, and the mainstream press, will start to listen. By keeping SEO/SEM folk engaged with Google in a dynamic way, they have effectively inspired an army of advocates, critics, and commentators to keep the focus on them as the center of the universe.
If some other search/social company wants to woo the hearts of the online marketing community with even more radical transparency… be my guest- really.