Google Plus rolls out custom URLs: a win for boosting organic search results?

An interesting thing happened this morning when I opened my email. Both my company and personal Google Plus pages were approved for a custom Google Plus URL. Previously, Blueprint Effects’ company Google Plus URL looked like this: https://plus.google.com/115840249624971392978, and I received the invitations as per Google’s rolling out of this feature across a broader range of users.

What was interesting to me as a digital marketer was that even though I don’t really use my personal Google Plus page as much as I should, it was approved prior to some individual and corporate pages of people and companies who are far more active on the platform. Without looking too much into it, I strongly believe this occurrence is a strong validation of the benefits of an expansive usage of Google’s product suite, as opposed to me being a Google Plus superuser.

Google+ Custom URLs
Google+ Custom URLs

Google+ Custom URL Invitation

So why have my pages been singled out already and how can you get your personal and business page custom URL invitation from Google Plus? This post will outline the tactics you should take and the reasons why you should make them.

Why should you care?

Aside from it looking better (google.com/+Blueprinteffects vs. plus.google.com/115840249624971392978) and being far more shareable, increasing organic search results remains a priority and challenge for every real estate organization. As a general rule, when Google does something the SEO community listens, as Google’s overall role in the marketing and lead generation value chain remains unchallenged. For what it’s worth, our site saw a 30-40 percent spike in site traffic following the latest Google Hummingbird update, as well as a noticeable increase in our domain authority.

Article continues below

I bring this up only because one of the cornerstones of our in-house SEO strategy has always been built around utilizing all of Google’s products as Google intended them in order to please the Google algorithm. This strategy is also likely why we received the custom Google Plus URL prior to more active users who are not using a broader depth of Google products and features.

What does it mean for SEO?

For those not familiar, the importance of Google Plus is based on the view that Google rewards users and companies that are active and well-followed on their various Web properties by giving them increased domain authority thus leading to higher organic search results. The 2013 Moz Search Engine Ranking Factor indicates that Google Plus +1’s (that’s a mouthful) is thesecond most important factor behind your site’s domain authority for improving your website’s SEO performance.

What improvements can I make?

Let’s use my own examples, as hopefully they can offer some insight into improving your Google Plus page(s) and getting approved for the custom URL sooner.

Personal Google Plus Page – Colin Bogar (google.com/+ColinBogar). Check first to see if you’ve already been approved. Click here for directions.

If not:

  • Complete your profile.
  • Be sure your profile email is verified.
  • Expand your circles.
  • Post at least every 72 hours.
  • Set up Google Authorship.
  • Link your YouTube account and preferably add content.

Once approved, the only difference between the personal page and company page is that you can request a different URL. From a Realtor and real estate SEO perspective, this would make sense if you have a very common name that won’t rank highly in organic Google searches. The other obvious reason to request a different URL is if you are known in your market by a nickname or if you use a middle initial.

If you blog, you should update your Google Plus profile to include the websites you are currently active on, as this is also a prerequisite step for setting up Google Authorship and having author snippets appear in search results.

Company Page – Blueprint Effects (google.com/+Blueprinteffects)

  • Check first to see if you’ve already been approved. Click here for directions. If not:
  • Complete your profile.
  • Be sure your company page is verified. To do this you will have to paste a line of code onto your home page.
  • Be sure you page is somewhat active.
  • Be sure a meaningful number of people are in your circles. At least 100 seems to be a good estimate.
  • Although it doesn’t seem required, your site should have +1 button on your blog posts, or at least for the site itself. This should be combined with setting up Google Authorship.
  • Not to worry, your existing links with the all those numbers will still work so you don’t need to worry about going and manually changing all of those existing links immediately, although it’s probably not a bad best practice.
  • Recommended: Set up Google Places for your business. See previous post here on this topic.

Our guess is that Google will continue to roll out custom URLs through the rest of 2013, so if you believe you are deserving a custom URL and haven’t received one by then, look at the points above and see what you are missing from your — and your company’s — profile.

Finally, I will be at the NAR conference in San Francisco from Nov. 8-11 and will be in the the FBS booth (Booth 1229 and 1235) between the Realogy and Homes.com pavilions. Stop by and I’ll be happy to answer any SEO or other digital marketing questions you might have. See you then.

Colin Bogar is the founder of Blueprint Effects, a fully integrated digital marketing and sales company helping our clients create innovative digital real estate marketing products, software and technology.