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The Google+ Effect on Breaking News

The Google+ Effect on Breaking News

No search results are safe from the Google+ effect.

Yesterday afternoon, I was walking back from a meeting and checking Twitter (yes, I know all about the dangers of walking and reading on my phone) when I saw this update from someone I follow:

Dorner Tweet

I have been following the Chris Dorner events pretty closely for the past week so I wanted to find out what was going on. I think Twitter is a great source for breaking news, but it’s not the most reliable source of information. So I did a quick search for “dorner” on Google (iPhone 5 using Safari not logged in) and was surprised to see Google+ results ranking above everything else (right under the News box).

I wasn’t sure if it was something that was only happening on mobile, so I did the same search on my computer and saw the same thing:

Google Search for "dorner "

I did another search for “dorner news” and again saw two (different) Google+ updates at the top of the search results:

dorner news   Google Search

To put this all into context, news about Christopher Dorner was the most-searched-for thing in the United States yesterday (way ahead of even the President’s State of the Union address), according to Google Trends:

Google Trends - February 12, 2013

So the top two search results for two of the most-searched-for terms in the U.S. yesterday both belonged to Google+ posts. That is major. Let’s take a closer look at what we can learn from these posts.

This was the first result I came across:

Maria Quiban - Dorner - Google Plus

Maria Quiban is an anchor & meteorologist at KTTV, a local Fox affiliate in Los Angeles. The interesting part about the result was that this was her personal profile and update. Not the official one of her employer (who didn’t post their first update until 5:20 p.m.).

What can we learn from the results for ‘Dorner news’?

Let’s look at the top result from ABC News (in San Francisco — not even Los Angeles):

ABC7 News San Francisco - Google+ - Dorner News

I added the arrow to point out the significance of adding the picture to their post. Look at how it shows up in the search engine result pages (SERPs):

Look at that Picture - Dorner News

Which result are you more likely to click?

The top Google+ result gets these four eye-catchers:

  2. Logo thumbnail
  3. BIG image
  4. Freshest result

8 Key Takeaways for Publishers & News Outlets

1) Google+ should no longer be an afterthought for publishers. If you aren’t using Google+ for your publication, you are missing out. In the words of Brian Clark, “Get Over Yourself and Get On Google+.”

2) Go beyond Google News. Just because you are in Google News, doesn’t mean you are covered. Think about maximizing your touchpoints.

3) The nimblest, or most agile outlets have another distinct advantage. It doesn’t matter if they are the biggest or even the most authoritative.

4) Have an integrated plan with your staff. This allows you to respond quickly (and effectively) to market shifts or the latest news.

5) Be descriptive and use multimedia (photos, videos, etc.) in your Google+ posts.

6) Implement rel=”publisher”. Want that nice little logo to show next to your search listing? Make sure you have implemented rel=”publisher”.

7) These results don’t last. If you look at the the SERPs for either of these terms today, you will see something very different, and none of the Google+ posts. Which leads me to one thing I am sure of…

8) Google SERPs and Google+’s effect will continue to evolve, so pay close attention. Breaking news events allows us great insight into shifts, tactics, and updates. Watch closely, see what worked, and figure out how you can make that work for your news outlet (or website or brand).

Have you noticed anything similar lately? Please share your insights or examples in the comments.

**Connect with me on Google+ here.**

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  1. Kristi says:

    Thanks for the mention :) But also a great reminder. I need to make sure I’m posting over there, I’ve been a bad marketer!

    • Chris Winfield says:

      Thanks for being the catalyst for this post Kristi!

  2. Amazing influence on Google+ in the SERPs, especially for news! They are no longer relegated to the bottom 2 results when we are signed in.

    Thanks also for your tips, Chris. Big image is a good point. If the image is not big enough, they won’t pull anything. If one puts in OG code to give them an image, that needs to be at least 200×200.

    It is exciting to watch this evolve. Thanks for capturing this for us!

    • Chris Winfield says:

      I am glad you got something out of it Dana, thanks for the extra tips as well!

  3. The thing we know is that Google crawls and indexes Google+ content pretty quickly–but who you are matters. Not all of my G+ posts show up in Google search–but those of someone like Rand Fishkin or Brian Clark do. Sometimes in less than 20 minutes. I think there is some kind of cut off around 1,000 followers. Moral of the story: not every one can benefit–but if you want to, then get building your profile.

    • Chris Winfield says:

      Really good points Demian.

      Things are evolving so quickly with Google+ and Google SERPs so it’s hard to draw many definite conclusions (yet) but larger audience doesn’t ever seem to hurt ;)

  4. Abe Bellini says:

    Very well explained. Thanks for the insight, Chris!

  5. Super Article, thanks for this. What is your perspective overall on google+ and the impact of authorrank. There was a Webmatser Hangout with John Müller from Google who was saying that Authorrank might become relevant over time, which means not now http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NghngcGoNvM – starts at 13:00
    Best regards

    • Chris Winfield says:

      Hi Alexander — thanks for the link to that video :)

      From what I can gather, the question that you referred to (and what John answered) was more about the idea of ‘AuthorRank’ in relation to ‘PageRank’ and that’s why he said it might become more relevant over time as a ranking factor. I think Authorship’s value goes well beyond just potential ranking factors.

  6. Jody Raines says:

    Awesome information and very timely. Thank you for sharing the results of your research. I’ve noticed that Google+ results do show up ahead of some others, and as a Google+ user, I often see posts with people I am connected to. The fact that I know someone who recommended the link does impact my decision which link to click, which in time, could absolutely result in higher ranking.

  7. Tshaka Armstrong says:

    Thank you for the nod Chris! From day one, I had a feeling that G+ was going to have a much more profound impact on TV news than brands were giving it credit for and it’s great to see it beginning to pay off. Fortunately, I work for and with individuals who “get it.” They understand that we need to be active in experimenting with engaging our audience AND the interwebz in unconventional channels.

    Also, Maria has been tenacious since day one with community building in the space, so hats off to her for crushing it!

    • Chris Winfield says:

      You guys are doing some great stuff Tshaka!

      > Fortunately, I work for and with individuals who ““get it.”

      The importance of this can’t be understated!

  8. Amy says:

    Wow, really great information, Chris. I never remember to post my news updates, blog posts, etc. on Google+, but your article shows that it definitely may be worth it. I’ll keep you posted on the results I see following posting my pieces on Google+.

    • Maria Quiban says:

      Awesome article on the growing importance of Google+ engagement! I didn’t know the extent of the Google+ effect until now- let alone mine! :) Thank you for making it easy to understand, I’ll be sure to share your article.

    • Chris Winfield says:

      @Amy — please do! Thanks :)

      @Maria – it’s awesome to see someone trying new things, thanks for being a great example of this!

  9. The only drawback for me is that I don’t Google much for breaking news. Occasionally I will after reading a piece and wanting more information, but often I find news simply by checking the national news outlets. Chris, do you have any data on how many people search Google for breaking news vs. those who opt for regular reading of news websites like the BBC, or even social media sites.

    • Chris Winfield says:

      Interesting points Anthony! Due to Universal Search, I’m pretty accustomed to putting something into Google (whether it’s the search box or the address bar in Chrome) and knowing it will show me news results if it’s something breaking/trending/etc.

      > “Chris, do you have any data on how many people search Google for breaking news vs. those who opt for regular reading of news websites like the BBC, or even social media sites.”

      Did you see this study? http://searchengineland.com/search-engines-more-trusted-than-social-media-for-news-information-study-148914

      I’m not sure if that’s what you are looking for but it might help.

  10. Google+ is definitively coming. We had just analized the employer branding and engagement uses of the 30 major german corporations on social media and realized they are just starting at google+. Only five of them use it explicitly for the engaging of emploxers but nearly all of them do have a representation of their business there.

  11. Google hasn’t had much luck in the past in the social game, but they seem to be sticking with Google+. They are making it highly relevant for marketers by tying the data into the Google search algorithm. By sharing content in Google+, it will likely get crawled and indexed more quickly.

  12. Yes! Finally something about %keyword1%.

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