Google has rolled out some nice changes over the last few weeks, as an SEO and as a search user I have to say that I am really pleased and satisfied with their updates. So what are these updates I am talking about and what can we do with them?

google+circles

+1 Global

Webmaster Tools and Analytics +1

Google+

Rel=”author” in search results

And I don’t count Page Rank update as one of the updates, if anyone wants to add I forgot about that in the comments. Of course this post is about sharing and social updates, we won’t talk about canonical headers and instant pages and other new updates like Google redesign.

Google +1 Global

Most people from smaller countries have waited for the praised +1 to come to them, and now they have it. What does this mean, well if you were in one of the countries that didn’t support +1 you couldn’t get the benefits of having your site +1’d in Google by your friends and connections, and so you couldn’t get the results of having your site higher in the serp’s based on personalization and favorites. Now you can.

+1 in Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Now this is something I love. Yesterday Google rolled out a new update to Webmaster Tools and Analytics, an update that lets you monitor the effect of +1 on your traffic and clickthroughs as well as demographics. In your webmaster tools you can easily see the effects of +1 under the search impact report section. You can watch if there has been any influence of the +1 button on your rankings, traffic as well as CTR. You can also see the number of times your pages have been +1’d total, meaning both from your site and the search results and you can also take a peek into your demographics and get to know a bit more about the audience that +1’d your pages.

As for the Google Analytics, you can now setup Social Plugin Tracking that will let you not only track how the users share your content via +1, but also for other large social networks, of course including Facebook and Twitter. This is great if you wish to get into the mind of your audience, as you will be able to see what do people that +1’d your site do, how long they stay, and what are their habits. You can also see how many times your pages have been tweeted, liked, +1’d etc… And you can also identify the highest social sharing pages on your website.

Google+

Google+ or Google Plus is a new social network basically, but I like it. It is still in testing phase and by invitation only. I got an invite and poked around a bit and I have to say I like it. It is connected to your Google Profile and allows you to create your inner circles, circles for job, friends, family, and contacts, whatever you want and wish. You can limit who sees what from your profile by managing your circles.

I like it because it is very simple to use and there are no distractions, I know Google won’t add any as they pride themselves with simplicity. It resembles Facebook a little, but there are no apps, no games or similar distractions. Of course we will see how this will work out for Google, but I’m going to use and see where it takes time. After all their social attempts, this is one of the first that makes sense to me and looks cool by the way.

Rel=”Author”

Markup rel=”author” is not that new to most of you. It is used to claim a piece of content you wrote. Thanks to schema.org now we can setup an author page and link to it each time we publish something, telling Google that we are the rightful authors. Of course we can use different profiles on our own website or other websites. But the update that got me smiling was the one where your image, name and a link to your profile are showed alongside SERP results!

The thing is that you need to connect your Google profile with your content in order for it to work, and also, I have seen this only on a limited number of people, so it is not a global update yet. However, my Google profile is update and my site uses rel=”author” and hopefully soon my image will be next to my posts in the SERP very soon. This will help us brand our websites more and share our content better. I mean if you are a known online persona it will be enough for people to see your image next to the SERP title and click on the link, even if you are number 3 or 4 in the list. It often happens that a crappy piece of content ranks as number one, but if I saw Rand Fishkin’s face next to the title of a serp result I would scrawl down and click on it, jumping all others before it.

As for other updates, well, I like Google’s new look and the fancy tab at the top, we will see where that leads them. My advice, install social tracking, get your Google profile if you haven’t already and start using rel=”author” as well as other schema.org markups.