Back in August this year I conducted an analysis looking at 10 of the top brands on Google+. I carried out the study for a number of reasons but primarily to help answer a question that had been grating on me – why do some brands appear to do so well on Google+ when others seem to struggle?

Some of my findings included:

  • 50% of the top 10 brands had a daily follower increase of over 5,000 people

  • The other 50% of the top brands had less than 1000 new followers each day

  • About 75% of the brands posted more than 5 times a day with decent quality content

  • The top performing brand, Cadbury, had an average of 68 comments per post, with the rest averaging at 20, so quite engaging

  • Only 50% of the top brands actually promoted Google+ on their websites

  • H&M and Burberry were the only 2 brands which had over 5,000 new followers each day but had no on-site promotion

  • Out of the top 3 brands the number of comments that appeared to be fake looked like this: Cadbury = 1%, Pepsi = 20%, ASOS = 60%

Afterwards my general feeling was that some brands were doing things properly and some were cheating, it’s as simple as that. The results were certainly nothing new if you look at some of the fans and followers of big brands on Twitter and facebook, it’s just part of the way some companies operate.

So, what’s changed 3 months on?

Looking at the number of  Google+ followers in August and the number of new followers over the 3 month period, it shows some interesting insights. While the likes of Cadbury, H&M and Burberry have appeared to remain quite consistent – Glamour Magazine and Samsung USA have slowed right down. In fact, over the last 3 months Samsung USA has only had 552 new followers and Glamour Magazine with just over 22,000. The most new followers come from Burberry and H&M with over 500k new followers in just 3 months.

I’ve looked at both sites (Samsung USA and Glamour Magazine) and nothing has changed since my last analysis in terms of promoting G+, so looking on you can see that there was a sudden drop in followers for Samsung USA, this has been steadily happening since mid-September.

For Glamour Magazine it’s quite similar; up to August 2012 they were averaging around 5,000 new followers a day and then all of a sudden this too dropped to a much lower number. As well as this, in the start of October they began to follow other people/pages, which they had not done before:

Make of it what you will, but something looks out of place for these two brands.

Next on the comparison was the post frequency – essentially I’ve graded each brand a score out of 10 based on the number of times they each post content, those that post content regularly get a higher score:

Sony was the only brand that has improved the amount of content they’re posting (although it’s still fairly infrequent). I found it quite surprising that most brands had actually slowed the number of posts down.

The last metric I revisited was looking at the post quality of each brand – this again was just a personal scoring out of ten. The maximum point generated would mean that a brand has been posting high quality content such as images, videos, competitions and unique content specifically for Google+.

What’s good to see here is that the majority of the brands in this analysis have upped their game when it comes to Google+ content. Glamour Magazine and Burberry were the only two brands which seem to have dropped the quality ball slightly. I believe more brands are realizing that you cannot just post web content on Google+ and expect to proposer – more brands are creating unique content specifically designed for Google+ (with logos often appearing in imagery and videos). It makes sense to me as most people will have Twitter and facebook already, so why would they want a third location of the same style?

I will keep an eye on these brands and revisit in another 3 months.


So one of the latest pieces of “clarification” from Google came in the shape of Matt Cutt’s explaining his take on Guest Blog Posting and if it’s OK for SEO?

For those of you who havn’t yet seen it:

Matt explains in so many words:

  • Guest blog posts that are recycled over and over will be discounted – don’t do it
  • Guest blog posts that write the “bare minimum” of 300 words are generally not considered good quality and are probably ignored
  • If you have something insightful, valuable or genuinely interesting to say it is OK to guest blog post
  • Make sure the content is well written – it helps if the writer is an expert in the field

Generally speaking guest blog posting has worked well for SEO for a few years now (extremely well to start with) but over the last 12 months in particular it’s really become one of the standard/out of the box link building approaches for many brands – and is therefore now less valuable/harder to find the gems. Typically the best way of identifying the right guest blogging opportunities is to use various Google commands to track down content and URLs that are looking for guest blog posts, there are even command generators available now to make it that little easier for you.

So what makes a Non-Friendly Google guest blog post?

I saw this great tweet from MyCool King:

He really hits the nail on the head with this one, whatever Matt Cutt’ says in his videos always use that information with a pinch of salt. The bottom line is that more than likely the only way Google will be able to detect if you’re abusing guest blog posting is if you do something glaringly obvious to them that makes you stand out:

  • Use the same author bio or boiler plate
  • Mass syndicate the same guest blog post on multiple blogs
  • Create different blog posts that include the same links to the same pages
  • Talk about topics which are not relevant to the blog itself
  • Write posts in bulk and distribute all together

These are only some of the ways I believe you run the risk of Google’s algorithm taking more of an interest in what you write for guest blog posts.

Time invested will equal a good SEO return

If you want to play the numbers game it’s quite simple – you can either write many low quality guest blog posts which will give you direct links and a slight uplift or you can spend time writing few big guest blog posts of much higher quality that will give you immediate links PLUS social signals, reference links from other bloggers and more author-rank. Now i’m probably not alone when I say; I’ve created guest blog posts of 300-400 words but those words have been written very well by someone who knows what they’re talking about – unfortunately that probably isn’t going to cut it for returning enough value to make the process worthwhile anymore – the goalposts have just moved (or were they always this far apart..)

How to write a perfect guest blog post for Google?

  • Finding the right blog will play a big part in determining how well the content will perform, obviously bigger brands with a good social profiles will give you a larger stage in which to talk about your subject. You’d actually be surprised how many high street and large brands are willing to accept content. They’re not always under an obvious URL too so you might need to do some digging around for email addresses – commands will not always find the gems people.
  • Theme and topic of your blog post is equally important. If you’re trying to build links to uninteresting keywords (like finance) it can be quite hard to be imaginative and still produce something relevant but it’s essential you capture the right audience. Look at Google Trends and insights for inspiration and time-relevant angles may present themselves.
  • The content itself should obviously grammatically well written but always support your blog posts with references, data and images where possible. If it looks like you’ve produced something that has taken hours then more people will value and respect the content you’ve created.
  • Adding the links is often the part where people slip up – adding links in the first paragraph to a commercial website will look artificial to users and search engines. Don’t force the links in and don’t write for the links – create a blog post as if it was simply an essay and look to where you can add opportunities afterward.
  • Author Bios are  often a good place to include a branded link to your website – explain who you are and also link to your Google+ profile if you have one

Examples of Google friendly guest blog posts

For the SEO’s we don’t have to travel far to find a location that illustrates guest blog posting done well – YouMoz. A section for SEOMoz’s users to write freely about the various topics within the industry with the added ability to include external links. What makes this so special? Well, they have a strict content guideline and really push users to write to the best of their ability, there’s also a review process which is undertaken for each blog post to ensure quality is continued.

A very high percentage of the posts on YouMoz look valuable – so when thinking about writing content for another blog use similar guidelines for yourself or writers before sending to blogs – you’ll find the blogger will love it and you’ll reap the rewards for much longer than before.



Google UK seems to be testing SERP layouts again; this time the Meta description seems to be impacted, I’ve seen listings move from the typical 2 lines of description to 3 and 4 lines per listing, note the example below:

Now Google has actually shown these kind of results for quite some time now but typically only get displayed when you type a phrase that is very long tail, like: buy seo services in the london area of soho for cheap. However I’ve never seen 4 lines of text before, which actually moves from around 158 characters to 324.

Above you can again see examples of both 3 and 4 lines of a Meta description being displayed for the same search query “tom cruise films”. From what I can see this is only being triggered for movie/film related queries but what’s interesting is that it’s for more generic keywords – imagine if this gets rolled out everywhere, the number of organic listings above the page fold would most likely be only 2!