Elements of Google Plus – Part Six: Ripples

Ripples – The New Metric of 2013

Ripples are an interactive feature that tracks how posts or URLs are shared through Google and the Google Plus network. Valuable to both users and marketers, the Ripple feature demonstrates not only what we’re sharing, but how, when, and with whom.

Launched in fall 2011, Ripples has stayed relatively below the radar for the last 18 months. However, with the obfuscation of older standard metrics and changing values in the industry, many SEOs are looking for new insights into user behaviour. This feature may be the answer to finding more in-depth information into user behaviour, but be mindful that Ripples only show publicly shared pieces, so it’s not going to be 100% accurate.

How it Works

You can access the Ripple of a post or URL through the small arrow in the top right corner of the post. As per the image below, the View Ripples function is at the bottom of the drop down menu.

elements of google pt 6 - ripples how to

When you view the Ripples, you’ll be brought to the visual overview of sharing for the URL in question. The circles are known as Spheres of Influence. Influencers are exactly that: people with a wide influence, whom many people share the URL or link through.

elements of google pt 6 - ripples rand

For instance, this is a Ripple graph for a link posted by Rand Fishkin. At the top is the URL in question: You can see the people who shared it directly from him are included in his circle of influence, as well as whom they shared it with. With some Ripples, the amount of individual shares is so high that the graphic is more difficult to read. Using the zoom function on the left will correct this.

elements of google pt 6 - ripples

Similar to Rand’s post, this ripple shows the amount of sharing in both the post of origin, as well as the amount of single shares. If you use the zoom function, you can discover the specific people who are sharing the article or URL. It also allows you to follow and discover more through the Ripple.

elements of google pt 6 - ripples stats close up

 There is also additional information below this graphic that demonstrate the staring process, and help you quantify it for your clients. The Ripple function tracks the comments associated with the post, shows statistics about how it was shared, and how it was shared over time. The interactive spread timeline demonstrates how the link was spread and by whom. The statistics are also able to breakdown the languages it is shared in, as well as animate the sharing process for the visually inclined.

elements of google pt 6 - ripples stats

Why Ripples Matter

Ripples are an important and undervalued marketing tool. It is one of the few, FREE ways of quantifying user interaction and behaviour. It’s important to remember this is an indication of how users are spreading and sharing information; not on-page behaviour, but rather the driving force that leads to it. The Ripples statistics give you an interactive timeline of sharing, names of influencers on the URL or post, the languages it was shared in and how it was spread (length of sharing chain, number of shares per hour, etc).

Ripples are not just useful to SEOs and marketers; burgeoning writers and webmasters can benefit greatly from this element. With SEO keyword reports being made irrelevant, this should be one of the easiest ways online marketers can quantify user behaviour and better tailor their online marketing efforts for their clients and their own business. Ripples can uncover Influencers, targeted subjects or keywords: it’s a perfect research tool to determine what is and isn’t working. With Google pushing G+ into prominence and 500 million registered Google+ users, can you afford not to?


Bria Jordan

Bria Jordan is a Toronto-based Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Consultant. A published writer for the last 14 years, she began her career as a music journalist before moving into marketing and communications. She has recently written a series about Google Plus. Follow Bria on twitter @InfiniteSass.

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