A brilliant aspect of Google’s business model is that it ties in search with many of its other applications. In a nutshell, the company takes its core competency and applies it in one form or another to the other things that it does. This goes for Google Plus as well and your activity on the platform can have effects on where your site ranks in search.
Of course just being active on G+ won’t guarantee more traffic. There are already a few studies on the web showing that activity on the platform alone doesn’t mean higher rankings. While those studies may carry a lot of weight, it’s no secret that for those in your network, interacting with your content is indeed augmenting what they see in search when they are logged in.
If you follow someone on Google Plus and use a query that is found in content they have shared on the platform or is in some way connected to their profile, it is more likely that the content will show up in search results for you. In the screenshot below, both my own content for my blog as well as another attorney (Jeffrey Lapin) whose content I have interacted with show up in search for the keyword phrase “lawyer SEO“.
Google knows that its users want reliable information and that users can trust information from people that they also trust. It may not happen every time but if there is content related to your query that is also related to something you interacted with on Google Plus, chances are it will pop up in results for you.
Even if you aren’t connected to someone directly, you may see results second-hand. Say you are connected to a fellow attorney whose content you interact with regularly. When you search for something related to what you have already interacted with, that will show up in your results. What also has the potential to show up is content that you have never interacted with but that the person you are connected to has interacted with.
In this way, Google is showing you results based on the assumption that your activity with another profile is a sign you think that person is authoritative. This all makes perfect sense when you think about it. This is the same behavior we display when we look for information in the physical world. We call our friends or ask our neighbors or co-workers if they have the information we are looking for. We even tend to throw out information we already have in place of new information that comes from a more trustworthy source.
Plus Posts in Search
Not only do web pages show up in search but so do Google Plus posts. As long as they are configured to be public posts, they will appear in both personalized and generic SERPs. In this regard, you can have both content and branding that can rank well in search without a website.
In the same screenshot note that the two results in the SERP are in fact posts on the respective Google Plus profiles in which they appear.
The key takeaways here are:
1. Activity on Google Plus probably doesn’t directly affect the ranking of a URL
2. The more you can grow your network on Google Plus, the more exposure you will get in search as long as you remain active.
By growing your network on G+ and having those people connected to you search for content relevant to what you have been sharing, the more exposure you get for your website and your brand.