Does Engagement Trump Recency in High Ranking Google+ Posts?

Yesterday I posted a dramatic example of how an influential Google+ profile combined with Google author verification linked to high-traffic web posts can result in a huge Google SEO power boost for Google+ posts in regular Google search, even for non-logged-in searchers.

Well and fine for my example, which was for a post only a few days old. (My #1 and #2 ranking is still showing today, though!) What about older Google+ posts? Some of my SEO friends and I on Google+ were speculating that this effect might be ephemeral. That is, Google+ posts may be heavily tied to recency. One of the main emphases of Google’s recent Panda updates to its search algorithms was to emphasize recency. More up-to-date content should be ranked higher than older content, other things being equal.

It is now well-known that one factor that can overcome recency is size and quality of the link profile pointing to a web page. If an older page still has a lot of good quality links pointing to it (and/or still gets new links), Google will still rank it high.

So since engagement (+1s, comments, re-shares) are the “links” of Google+, the next logical question for me to ask is whether engagement can have the same effect (i.e., overcoming recency) on a Google+ post’s ranking. Will all Google+ posts naturally fade away in search results over time, no matter what?

My Google+ Post Still Ranking #1 After Three Weeks

On February 6, 2012, over three weeks before the date of this post, I posted on Google+ “Yes, There Will Be Google+ Page Analytics.” The post started getting a good amount of engagement, including some by other very influential Google+ users, and within hours it was showing up as the #1 result in an incognito (non-personalized) Google search for “google+ page analytics.” (That query, by the way, has enough search volume that it comes up as a search suggestion by the time you get to the end of “page.”)

Since then the post has racked up 66 re-shares, 28 +1s, and 23 comments. So where is it at in search over three weeks later?

 

Google+ Page Analytics

 

Still #1, and proudly bearing my handsome visage and link to more of my related content.

I’m going to continue to track this, but it appears that we are mounting good evidence that active participation on Google+ combined with popular, relevant online content linked to your Google+ profile is the new killer combo for ranking high in Google search.

UPDATE: Did This Post Just Knock My Google+ Post Out of the Rankings???

It’s now four hours after I published this post. A check just now shows that after three weeks at number one, my Google+ post referenced above has completely disappeared from the rankings! What the what?

Digging a little further turns up this: this post you’re reading right now shows up on the 4th page of results for “google+ page analytics.” It’s not ranking as highly (yet) as my Google+ post did, but I wouldn’t expect it too, as that is not a primary keyword for this post. It’s not in the title for one thing, as it was in the Google+ post.

So here’s my tentative conclusion about this: With the author-to-Google+-profile tie-in I have, given no outside competition, my high engagement Google+ post can rank high on SERPs, and stay highly ranked. But once Google gets a more powerful (and/or more recent?) signal from the same author, that new content causes the older (in this case my G+ post) to get devalued.

Any thoughts on something I’m missing?

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: And…….we’re back!

Just checked incognito search for “google+ page analytics” 24 hours after my update above…and my three-week-old Google+ post is back at #1! What to make of this? Was the disappearance in Update 1 an anomaly? Perhaps we were looking right at the time of an algorithm update? Or did my new post actually knock it out of the rankings, but only temporarily?

Does Engagement Trump Recency in High Ranking Google+ Posts? by

Mark is Director of Digital Outreach for Virante Inc. Mark helps businesses build strategies to increase brand influence and attract natural links and social signals. He has a special reputation as an expert on Google+ and Google Authorship. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web.

Comments

  1. curious observation that of the “devalued” post when more recent by same source…

    Is the lesson here…. speak once on a topic, authoritatively and then shut up?

    In a sense it’s promoting a large opus
    mentality isn’t it?

    an interesting experiment might be to “refresh” (i.e. modify date of original posting) with added fresh content and track.

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