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Since the full launch of Google+ last September, there has understandably been much speculation as to the impact it will have on search rankings. 

Many SEOs have predicted that search engines will use social signals more and more, and the introduction of Google+ made that even more likely. 

So what effect has Google's social network had on the job of the search marketer? 

We asked more than 500 agency and client-side respondents for our UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2012, produced in association with NetBooster ...

Google+ and search marketing

Of the companies we surveyed, 68% did not know the impact that Google+ was having on their search marketing campaigns.

Very few thought that Google+ was already having either a positive impact (3%) or a negative impact (1%), while 29% stated that it had been neutral.

What impact is Google+ having on your search campaigns? 

More agency respondents (7%) stated that G+ was having a positive impact on search campaigns, and just 1% thought it was negative. 47% though the impact was neutral, while the remaining 45% were don't knows.

The responses suggest that it's very early to tell, and perhaps that Google has yet to fully integrate social signals from Google+ into search results.

There are some signs of this though, such as enhanced search listings for brands with Google+ pages, though it's still unclear exactly what criteria Google uses here. 

A study by Econsultancy guest blogger Kevin Gibbons found that search results with +1s actually achieved lower CTR, though this could be because some +1 results are over-inflated and therefore less relevant to some queries. 

Kevin did find that sites with a Google+ presence and a strong social footprint were doing much better in terms of organic traffic, and a social footprint does have the advantage of "making your rankings more defensible and future proof to algorithm updates". 

Tactics for Google+

We also asked companies and agencies about what they had done since Google+ was launched. Over half of companies (56%) and over a third of agency clients (39%) said they had done nothing about this. 

33% of companies and 56% of agency clients had created Google+ brand pages, which is the first step, but just 6% of companies and 10% of agencies said they had measured referrals and conversions from these pages. 

What have your clients done since the launch of Google+?

Other highlights from the study

Search and social media marketing spending continues to grow, with only a small minority of responding companies planning to decrease their budgets. 

  • 62% of companies plan to increase social media spending in the next 12 months. 
  • 57% will increase their SEO spending and 49% will invest more in paid search.

Many companies are lacking an integrated approach to digital marketing because they are continuing to treat different channels in isolation. 

  • 57% are still treating social media and search marketing separately.
  • Only 19% use the same agency to manage search and display campaigns. 

Another significant trend shown in the report is that in just 12 months, there has been a near doubling in the proportion of paid search budget going to mobile.

  • In 2011, only 2% of company and 5% of agency paid search budgets were allocated to mobile.
  • in 2012, these figures rose to 4% and 9% respectively
Graham Charlton

Published 25 May, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Xavier Izaguirre

This is counter-intutive.

I asked a SEO analyst at a top London agency what was the hot thing in SEO this year and he replied Google+ was one of them. I guess he would be on that 3%...

about 4 years ago

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Tanya Smith Lorenz

Interesting findings in this post! I think a lot of businesses are hesitating to integrate Google + (if they've even heard of it) because they feel that their customers won't want to be bothered with another social media channel to connect with them through - compared to Facebook and Twitter it's still too new, and too tech oriented. It's not yet regarded as a mainstream social media channel by the average person, so unless a company has someone doing their SEO who actually understands the weight that Google is increasingly giving to social signals (and it will of course want to favour its own platforms - Google + and YouTube for example, over Facebook)then they probably won't see the need for using Google + yet. Great scope for those in the know to get a headstart though!!

about 4 years ago

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Alok

Thanks Graham, it seems like most marketing managers still don't see the importance of Google+ on their SEO results. One thing I have noticed is when blog posts are ranked on Google, the author's Google+ profile picture is also displayed. This adds a much more personal presentation to the search result, and allows the reader to see that an actual person has written the post. Regardless of the SEO importance or not, don't you think its essential for every blogger to have a Google+ page for this reason?

about 4 years ago

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Mug

Ghost town plus yay! I don't go to parties hearing add me to G+. Post it to G+ etc. sorry but that's another failed Google 'product'

about 4 years ago

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