Google uses many factors in its search algorithm and although social is purported to not be one of them1, there is no denying that it plays some kind of role in high rankings2. Aside from outside sources of influence such as Facebook, Twitter and other big names, users of Google Plus are already more likely to see content in search results related to their activity on the platform. Attorneys can use this to their advantage in promoting their brand online.
(EDIT: As of 5/03/15 Google Plus has updated their platform and circle sharing is no longer available. Obtaining more followers will now require the same types of engagement activities you would use on other social platforms.)
By using tactics like circle sharing, engaging with other’s posts3, following people4, and being active on G+ in general, you will grow your number of followers. When those followers use queries related to content you have published (either on your website or on Google Plus), it is more likely to be served to those individuals in their SERPs.
Unlike personalized search (which was once only available to logged in users), SERPs influenced by Google Plus5 require users to be logged in. For example if you are logged into your Google account, you might see posts you shared with a limited audience show up in your search results. As of right now, pretty much all search results you see from a logged in account are personalized in some way.
This allows Google to serve results that may be more relevant to its users. It can also be sort of unnerving at first when you see posts you only wanted to share with one person show up in (what you might think) are public search results.
As long as people are logged into their Google accounts, they will see content of yours they have interacted with show up in their search results for relevant queries. Notice how when I search for the keyword phrase “Philidelphia dog bite lawyer“, Gabriel Levin’s6 post (Can I Sue for a Philadelphia Dog Bite?7) shows up in my search results page.
Conversely, when I use the same exact query without being logged into Google Plus, I don’t see Gabriel’s post. Notice how many of the other results are still the same.
Another thing to point out is that Google Plus profile photos continue to show up in search results despite the cessation of the Authorship program8. They only show up in snippets that are Google Plus posts though.
So this is not really anything new. It is also not all that interesting until you consider what you can do with it. In a way, your following on Google Plus can be tailored so that you are showing content to a target market.
This is where the real power of circles come in. You can segment your following on a lot of different platforms but none is more pronounced than G+. Segment your following into different groups based on the content that resonates best with them. When you go to share content, make sure you are consciously selecting the proper circles that it should be shared with.
Not only will those people be more likely to interact with the content but it will also start showing up in their search results for related queries.
You should give visitors the chance to plus-1 content on your site whenever possible. For example placing sharing buttons that include plus-1 buttons at the end of blog posts is a good strategy. The more content you can connect with Google Plus on your site the better. When people plus-1 that content, it is like saying they give a personal vote for it on Google Plus.