How I Increased My Organic Traffic By 655% Using Google Plus [Case Study]

By azfar on November 13, 2015

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Increase Organic Traffic Using Google Plus

It’s been a little over 6 months since I started doing content marketing and I can say that I’ve grown quite a bit since then. There are many ways to measure growth when it comes to content marketing. But here at SEOPressor, we mainly look at organic traffic as our measuring stick.

While promoting your contents can net you a lot of referral traffic, organic traffic is a bit harder to influence. Earlier on I tried a combination of SEO, promoting contents through email and social media sites to increase incoming organic traffic. But that yield very little result.

That is until the day I noticed how sharing in Google Plus communities affects organic traffic tremendously. Since I started doing it, organic traffic to my contents increased from 137 to 873 per month only in 3 months!

Organic traffic only improve when I start to share on various Google Plus communities.

Organic traffic only improve when I start to share on various Google Plus communities.

So if you still haven’t started doing it yourself, here’s some guide on how I manage to pull it off. I’ll first start by sharing my observation on the effects of Google Plus sharing, followed by my speculation on the reason why that happens. Afterwards I will share the methods I did to do my sharing.

You can straight away jump to the “How to post in Google Plus Communities” part if you aren’t interested in the case study.

Content Marketing Made Easy:
Content Promotion Tracker

"Using the Content Promotion Tracker, I no longer miss promoting my contents on key sites!" - Ben Stevens
  • Track multiple contents across multiple sharing sites
  • Access various sharing sites from one convenient page
  • Highly customizable to suit to your own sharing site preferences

Observation

We know that social signals are among the ranking factors Google uses to rank websites. That’s why I started with sharing my contents on multiple platforms – Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn just to name a few.

And even though they managed to get a decent amount of shares and likes, there are not much effect on organic traffic.

Once I started sharing on Google Plus communities though, the amount of organic traffic surges to match the amount of interaction an article receives in Google Plus communities. The more +1s, shares and comments, the more organic traffic pours in.

Organic traffic increased the day the article is shared on a Google Plus community.

Organic traffic spiked on the day the article is shared on a Google Plus community.

An very clear example is an older post of mine. I have stopped promoting it for quite a while until I saw an opportunity to reshare it in a Google Plus community. Just by sharing once, a very apparent spike in organic traffic instantly occur. It also quickly dwindle down the moment the share start to get less interaction.

Shares on Twitter and LinkedIn doesn't really affect organic traffic.

Shares on Twitter and LinkedIn doesn’t really affect organic traffic.

Compared to some of my other article that manage to get huge amount of interaction on LinkedIn and Twitter, the organic traffic stays more or less the same. The spike still only happen during the sharing on Google Plus. Despite the Twitter and LinkedIn shares came a bit later, they are not reflected at all in the amount of incoming organic traffic.

Speculation

Earlier on I was suspecting that maybe being a Google product, traffic from Google Plus counts as organic traffic. But it’s clearly not the case since they are still counted as referral. But somehow they correlate so well with organic traffic.

Then the conspiracy theorist in me thought that maybe it’s a ploy by Google to promote Google Plus. This doesn’t sound too absurd considering that Google have in fact, have favored Google Plus in the past.

google plus is quite important to indirectly increase organic traffic

There was a time when the information included in the Knowledge Graph panel is derived mostly from Google Plus.

There used to be a time when contents in Google Plus profile are heavily featured in Google Knowledge Graph. It is also a fact that only until recently, YouTube users are practically forced to create Google Plus account to post videos. But is this the same case?

Well, it could be. But considering over the years Google does make an effort to push less their own products, I’m thinking that it’s more about convenience rather than favoritism.


Matt Cutts once explained that extracting data from other social media sites is not an easy task.

Other social media like Facebook or Twitter have their own privacy/security settings. So, Google’s ability to extract data from those sites might be limited. At one time Google was even banned from crawling on a certain platform for a month and a half.

Such limitation doesn’t exist on Google’s own platform. Being in their control, extracting data from Google Plus to be used in ranking factor would be much easier.

Wrapping up the case study

So basically what can be concluded from the case study is:

  • Posting contents on Google Plus have a very close connection with the organic traffic the post gets.
  • +1s, shares and comments can bring more organic traffic.
  • Shares on other platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter doesn’t have the same effect.
  • The amount of organic traffic returns to normal when interaction in Google Plus stops.
  • Google Plus shares have bigger impact on organic traffic because the data is more accessible to Google.

So with this, let’s take a look at how I did my sharing in Google Plus so that you too can get the same results.

How to post in Google Plus communities

When people post on Google Plus, usually they just post on their own profile or company page. This is a very common mistake, even I was guilty of it earlier on.

Common perception of the general population regarding Google Plus

Common perception of the general population regarding Google Plus.

Given the lack of popularity of Google Plus among the common masses (compared to Facebook, Twitter etc) and the stigma that Google Plus is a ghost town, it’s understandable that few understand its true potential – Communities.

But is Google Plus really a ghost town though? To illustrate this, let’s compare how the communities fare against other more “popular” social media communities:

google plus communities are better at increasing organic traffic compared to twitter and linkedin

Comparing small business communities in Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

This not only proves that the Google Plus communities are alive, but it’s also bustling with activities even more than other platforms. While Facebook and Twitter might be more popular to casual users talking about random daily stuff, Google Plus is where people with interest on focused topics hang around.

With this in mind, let’s look at how you can start posting on Google Plus communities. This of course, assuming that you already have a Google Plus account:

1. Search communities related to your field

finding the right google plus communities is important to increase organic traffic to your site

There are tons of active Communities with a huge amount of members covering a plethora of niches. You can start by looking through the 25 Biggest Communities on Google Plus. Among the ones worth mentioning:

And don’t just limit yourself to the big players. You can search subjects related to your business and find suitable communities to join. For example, I join various groups centered around SEO, Blogging and Content Marketing.

2. Decide which communities to join

From the examples given above, you might think the only communities worth joining are those with at least half a million members. This is not the case as big communities doesn’t always mean a lot of engagement.

They are either strictly moderated or rampant with spam. Sometimes your shares will get drowned by the fast paced activity of large communities so you need to find the right amount of balance.

Some of the things you need to consider when deciding which communities to join:

    number of members

  • Number of members – Number of members are a good measure of exposure you will get by posting in the community. While you might not want to join just the huge ones, also avoid groups with too few members. In my opinion having around at least 20,000 members is an indicator of a good community to join.

  • Community rules – The first thing you need to do upon checking a community is to read their rules. Some communities are stricter than the others. Some doesn’t even allow posting links to your own contents even if they are good and not spammy.

    community rules

    Communities without any rules at all to enforce the quality of contents posted aren’t any good either. Sure you are free to post anything there, but same goes to spammers posting junks.

  • Type of contents – Different communities might be dedicated to different types of contents. For example, communities related to photography – One community might revolve just around sharing photos. Another might be more broad, including photography techniques or camera reviews.

    Formats are also very important – Observe whether the members post mostly statuses, images, videos or links. To get traffic to your site you need to find communities where members share links regularly.

  • Community activities – Monitoring the activities can tell you the state of a community. Is it spam infested despite the rule? It shows that the community is poorly moderated.

    community activity

    An ideal community should have a decent amount of discussion, +1s and shares. If the latest posts barely have any comments or even +1s, it signals a dead community where nobody reads the posts.

3. Start engaging with the community

Once you joined a community, you can start interacting with the members to show that you’re not in it just to dump links. It’s a good idea to first introduce yourself upon joining, especially if the practice is encouraged in the Community Rules.

Introducing yourself when first joining a community is a good practice to be observed.

Introducing yourself when first joining a community is a good practice to be observed.

You can observe the discussions happening in the community and participate in those you related to your expertise. It’s a good opportunity to build your reputation and familiarize yourself with the rest of the members.

Questions related to your field is an opportunity to share your expertise.

Questions related to your field are opportunities to share your expertise.

Sometimes, questions asked by other members can also be a chance to use your contents as an answer. You can also get ideas on what to write by observing actual questions often asked.

4. Start sharing your post

Once you got the hang of a community, you can start sharing your contents on a regular basis. There are few ways you can go about doing it:

  • New contents – The moment a new content is published, you can start sharing with the communities with the best exposure and engagement and move to the next community the day after. Repeat this until you’ve shared to each of the communities in your list.

    It’s important to notice that some communities frowns upon sharing links that is already shared on other communities. It is best to adhere to such policies as the moderators can detect whether a link is posted on other communities. Strict moderators might delete your post or even ban you from posting.

  • Old contents – You can share older contents to communities where it haven’t been shared yet. For example sometimes you discover and join new communities so you can start sharing your contents daily from the latest to the older ones.

    You can also re-share your posts if the situation calls for it – such as events or discussions that is related to your post. Sharing in the right situation can yield better results compared to doing routine shares.

Make the best out of the preview display.

Make the best out of the preview display.

It is important to note that in order to maximize engagement, you shouldn’t simply drop links and be done at it. Here’s what you can do:

  • Write comments that can spark discussions to accompany your link. Try to avoid just copy pasting the first few lines of the article. It is also a good idea to customize the comment to better suit the communities it is shared on instead of just using a universal one.

    Depending on the reception, you might want to tweak the comment on further shares. Always improve if a comment doesn’t get a post the desired feedback.

  • Select the best feature picture to be displayed. Sometimes Google Plus selects a random image among the article that might not be the best choice for a display picture. Simply click on the left-right arrow to scroll through and pick the best picture.

  • Write the most fitting meta description. Again, avoid duplicating the first line of the article. Try to write something that best summarize the article while keeping it under 160 characters. It’s also important to include your main keyword in the description.

5. Monitor and respond to feedback

Never ignore comments people write on your shares. Even if it’s just a simple “good post” comment, try to get them to interact more by asking their opinion on subjects discussed in the article. The more comments a share have, the more others are attracted to join in the fun.

When readers comment on your post, don't leave them hanging!

When readers comment on your post, don’t leave them hanging!

And the livelier the comment section, the stronger the signals it will give Google that it’s a good content!

Bonus:

As you build reputation by posting quality contents, people will start to follow you. This increases the viewership of contents you post in your own timeline. I created and use my Google Plus profile mostly for work-related stuff. In the beginning I only have a handful of people in my circle, almost all are my officemates.

Not exactly a superstar, but the extra exposure sure does come in handy.

Not exactly a superstar, but the extra exposure sure does come in handy.

As I started to share more and more of my contents, people started to follow me and before long, I gained quite a few of them. Now shares on my own profile are no longer seen, shared and +1’d exclusively by my officemates, but also by others who’s interested in my posts.

Conclusion

All in all, Google Plus communities is a very powerful tool for content promotion, traffic generation as well as link building. But it’s worth noting that the success of posting in Google Plus communities in the end relies on the quality of your contents.

You can post in tens of communities but in the end, it’s still up to the readers to comment, share and +1 your post. If you keep pushing less favorable contents, that counts as spamming and you will soon find them deleted and get yourself banned. On the plus side, you know a content is truly good if it manage to get a lot of people sharing and commenting.

And even though interaction in Google Plus can quite directly affect organic traffic, they also dwindle down once you stop sharing. Hence, it doesn’t replace a good SEO in the long term.

Give it a try if you still haven’t. I’d love to hear if this work for you!

Content Marketing Made Easy:
Content Promotion Tracker

"Using the Content Promotion Tracker, I no longer miss promoting my contents on key sites!" - Ben Stevens
  • Track multiple contents across multiple sharing sites
  • Access various sharing sites from one convenient page
  • Highly customizable to suit to your own sharing site preferences

Updated: 24 May 2017

Azfar Hisham

About Azfar Hisham

A copywriter with previous experience developing computer simulations, managing websites and being the social media guy. Interested in Google Patents, Knowledge Graph and questioning everything.

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