Google Circles – The New SEO

SEO goes social. Now get on Google+

Thanks to Google and recent updates, understanding Google+ is becoming increasingly important. Why? Because if you’ve got a Google+ account (and you DO if you have a Google account), your Google+ social signals are affecting HOW you view the search results.

On November 1, SEO expert Rand Fishkin, published a video on how to use Google+ in order to appear in the top results. Turns out, that if the people you’re following have +1’d a link, it’s going to be a LOT more likely to show up in your results, even if the correlation between your query and the +1’d article isn’t that great (even if the keywords aren’t exact matches).

Here’s an example: I type in ‘digital marketing’. It’s a broad search so I DON’T expect to find anything relating to Xanthos (the digital agency I work for). However, scroll down the page and low and behold…occupying position 4, 8 and 10 are highly personalized links – one link to my own Google+ page, one link to the Xanthos Google+ page and one link to the Xanthos website. Xanthos has me in their circles.




Again, I try a broad search ‘AspDotNetStorefront’. Given that Xanthos is only one of hundreds of clients that use this ecommerce website CMS, we have never ranked on the 1st, let alone the 2nd page for the term. But now? Well, now in position 10, we’re showing up. Why? Because I’ve +1’d the blog article in question and one of the people I have in my Google Circles has also done the same.



The same thing happens when I type in ‘Happy Christmas’. In position 8, 9 and 10 are links to 3 people I follow on Google+ and these are links that neither I nor my friends have +1’d! Google is openly ‘biasing’ or PERSONALISING my search results.

SEO goes Social

According to Rand then, if you want people to see you on page 1 of the Search Results, all you have to do is get them to follow you on Google+. Forget about all those complex ranking signals, now you’ve got an easy out.

“Even if these people aren’t using Google+ as a social network—even if they’re not visiting, and they’re not sharing things and following people and +1’ing—it doesn’t matter, because they’re still being biased so long as they follow your account. So long as you’re encircled by those individuals, it’s valuable.”

Interestingly, you don’t even have to be using ‘exact keywords’ to show up. Right now it seems the algorithm is broad which makes this a pretty darn powerful tool for anyone that wants to rank quickly for a specific term.

SEO and Gmail

The same is true if you’ve exchanged emails with someone. Providing you’re logged into your Gmail account, any links that person has shared or +1’d will also show in your search results. The same is true for them. If they’re logged in and have exchanged a few emails with you (not just spam), but have not ‘circled’ you, your links are likely still going to be showing in their search results.

A word of caution

Before you think of gaming the system by sharing or +1’ing all your links (and this isn’t just my advice, it’s direct from the renowned CEO of, consider the fact that people aren’t going to KEEP you in their circles if ALL of their search results are just a feed of the things you’ve +1’d. Eventually, Google will create (if they haven’t already) some type of algorithm that ranks those personalized results and they’ll start picking up on the things that haven’t actually been organically shared or +1’d.

Interestingly, those posts/links that appeared in the search results were relatively recent. This could mean that unless you’re sharing on an ongoing basis, your links will eventually drop of the radar.

How to use this information

Consider – what are you trying to rank for this month? Let’s make it timely. If you’re trying to rank during Black Friday, get a post or two up so that when people you’ve exchange emails with, or that have you in Circles, do a search for ‘Black Friday Sales’, you can be in there with all of the big names!

Did you find this post useful?

If you found any of the information useful, let us know! We like to keep posting the things that you can come back to time and time again and that will teach you something . If you’ve got further questions/comments leave a review. If you’d like to find out more about using social media to affect your search results, get in touch.