It seems Google+ is starting to emulate some Facebook & Twitter features by trying to promote the original owner of the content being shared which is potentially great for content creators, but maybe not so much for the user/page sharing the content. As I couldn’t find a feature name in the HTML code I’ve decided to call this feature Google+ Smart Links.
Almost exactly 12 months ago Facebook started promoting anyone clicking like on a post if they “Want to see more from this FB Page” to drive more FB fans for the brands page. This feature seemed to be only offered in a limited rollout and seemed to be focused around Facebook’s big media partners that they were trying to win over.
Twitter has had their Twitter cards which they rolled out in June 2012 that allow for a rich snippet but also allow users to easily follow the Twitter account linked to the official owner of the content. The process did require the website to add in Twitter meta tags and then have their account verified before they would show it but has worked quite well for driving increased engagement and better CTR from Tweets.
I noticed last night when doing some research for another Google+ post that Google has quietly also rolled out an enhanced Google+ status update with a link to the content’s owner as you can see below for VentureBeat post.
Lee Jarrat over on Google Plus Daily seems to be the first site to post about the new Google+ smart links thanks to a tip from Sebastien Defrance. What is interesting is that Lee has correctly pointed out that this new Google+ page link replaces the websites URL which is part of Google’s general move in Search results away from showing the websites Domain/URLs and towards just showing Names/Brands.
So how do Google+ Smart Links Work?
It’s an easy assumption to make based on who is showing up that this feature is only available to verified names or those pages that have verified their link to the website. It seems that the Google+ Smart Links are showing in feeds for both personal accounts and if acting as a Google+ page. So I decided to shift through both feeds and these are the pages that I noticed were showing Smart Links:
- Thomas Cook UK (verified/linked)
- Tourism Whistler (verified/linked)
- SurveyMonkey (verified/linked)
- VentureBeat (verified/linked)
- SocialMouths (verified/linked)
- Storify (verified/linked/not-active)
- MediaPost (unverified/linked/not-active)
- SEO Chat (not-linked/unverified)
What was interesting is that I found that the common element was usually that the page was a Google Verified Name and they were a Linked website but I also found that this was not always the case. So there is obviously something else that is triggering if Google+ decides to show these for your pages.
SEO Chat was the interesting example where they did not have a verified name, had not yet verified the link to their website and their page and unlike the other examples they only had a small amount of people that had them in circles. I did check their website and the SEO Chat Forum does have their Google+ publisher link embedded on their page so maybe that is enough?
This made me wonder if the new Google+ Smart Links had some link with the amount of URLs shared on Google+ or the authority of the admins running the page? The reason why I wonder this is that both MediaPost and Storify have not posted once on Google+ yet are included in this test experiment.
Doesn’t Relate to Circles
The initial thought was that the Google+ Smart Links were similar to Facebook’s follow this page feature but if you look at the example below when I was using Google+ as a page Thomas Cook UK was showing these. But if I mouse over the link you can see that I already have Thomas Cook UK in my circles so maybe these Smart Links are being used for more than just growing follower numbers?
Downside to Google+ Smart Linking
What are the downsides to Google+ Smart Linking can be seen below where a random user Kerry was looking for people to complete her SurveyMonkey quiz. But as you can see in the screenshot her Google+ post is now also promoting the SurveyMokey Google+ page instead of the URL of the survey.
What is the upside to Google+ Smart Linking?
The potential upside is expanded branding for content owners/creators that are having their content shared on Google+ and have created a Google+ page. The other point I’ve noticed is that because this feature is controlled by Google it seems to be retrospective for old posts. The other upside is that it appears unlike Twitter cards brands/pages don’t have to do anything onpage to have this feature enabled so it’s probably something that is going to be more attractive to big brands and large websites.
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