Google+ Ripples Falls Short Pinpointing User Behavior

Google+ burst onto the scene just over a year ago and has since been integrated into almost every facet of Google. From the Google+ SERP integration with Search Plus Your World to the integration of Google Places, brands are wondering what the potential impact on their business will be as a result of adopting yet another social network.

Google+ Ripples has been introduced to provide a deeper insight into the social reach of public posts and “re-shares.” The problem is, it is only on a post per post basis and fails to pinpoint the many aspects of user engagement that are captured with tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics. Google+ Ripples lacks the usability and depth of these other tools including exporting functionality, date sorting, gender and age demographics, topic trending and geographic reporting. SEMPO released an eye-opening study in February that revealed Google+ averaged only 3 minutes of monthly user engagements compared a staggering 405 minutes on Facebook from September 2011 through January 2012. On the flipside for Google+, users tend to engage primarily via thought leadership on the site, which is beneficial to brands with large numbers of circles because they are much more likely to share posts circling that brand.

Andrew Devine, Senior SEO Strategist at Covario in San Diego, outlines the potential pros and limitations to Google+ Ripples in “Google+ Ripples: Insights & Limitations.” He notes that while Google hasn’t released any tools specific to Google+, users can still isolate the impact a Google+ profile has on a brand’s site by using any standard analytics platform. Simply by isolating the sub-domain, traffic statistics can be collected and compared over a specified date period. The problem here is that it isn’t possible to narrow down to the referring keyword, making it difficult to pinpoint which keywords are driving large amounts of search traffic to a company’s specific Google+ post.

Devine wraps up a few actionable insights into tracking your businesses web visibility until Google releases an on-page analytics solution for Google+ profiles. He recommends using referral reports in your analytics software to monitor traffic to your site that is being driven from your Google+ profile and use Google+ Ripples on a post-by-post basis to identify industry influencers. As Google’s 250+ million users increase, the Google+ social platform will likely provide deeper insight for businesses tracking their brand’s web visibility.

What do you think about Google+ Ripples? Is it an adequate solution for brands tracking their visibility on the web?

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