Google launched their fourth networking service, Google+, in June 2011. Leading up to the launch, tech tabloids and social media enthusiasts believed Google+ would be the latest competition for social networking titan Facebook. But with only 100 million active users monthly, Google’s highly anticipated social network hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype, compared to the one billion users who now visit Facebook each month. While Google+ may not be the most popular social networking site, this doesn’t mean it can’t still be a helpful tool in your business’s digital marketing toolbox.
Businesses were first thrown into the mix when Google+ pages were made available to businesses in November 2011 and it wasn’t long before businesses flooded the new social network. The Google+ pages allow businesses to create posts and connect with customers in the same fashion that Facebook pages do. So why does your business need to be on Google+ if it works the same as a Facebook page? The answer is simple; Google+ has the greatest influence on your search engine rankings because Google trusts their social media network the most.
Boosting your search engine rankings with Google+ isn’t complicated. If you are comfortable with Facebook pages, using Google+ should be a breeze after you learn what is important — Google+ shares — and why it is important.
When a user shares your content on Google+, a link to your content appears on their profile. To state the obvious, your business gains another link thus helping search engine visibility! However, this is not only beneficial from an SEO perspective; a Google+ share can also drive traffic to your site. For example, if someone shares a blog post from your site on their profile, a person in their circles would have to visit your site to read it. Additionally, a person can recommend a post when they click the +1 (aka ‘like’ in Facebook terminology) button. A person also has the option of sharing the post they +1’d publicly or to their circles which gives your website credit for the link again.
If you want to increase your Google+ shares, add the Google+ counter to your site. The Google+ counter is a little widget that allows visitors to +1 your content when they are on your site. When a person +1s your content, they are given the option to post it on their profile which would expose the content to their circles and be another link to your site. However, Google+ is more than a quick way to get links and traffic to your site.
Setting up Google+ Local, which replaced Google Places pages in May 2012, is also important. Your business may already be listed in Google+ Local since Google Places pages were automatically converted. If your page has tabs for About and Photos under the map at the top of your page like the photo below, then it is a local listing. The managing and editing of your local listing is done in Google Places.
The local layer of Google+ allows users to post photos, reviews and ratings directly to the specific location page. The greatest benefit of a Google+ Local listing comes from the user reviews. When someone does a local search, the places reviewed by people in their circles are automatically highlighted or the searcher can select to see reviews and recommendations from only people in their circles thus making reviews valuable. Having reviews on Google+ Local will help put your brand in front of a wider audience. Previous reviews from Google Places were transferred over, but they might not be beneficial. Unless the author has gone through and claimed the review with their Google+ account, it shows up as written by “A Google User.” If the review isn’t attached to a Google+ account then it won’t be highlighted when a person in their circles does a local search.
Your business may have a stronger following on Facebook and Twitter, but the bottom line is you can’t ignore Google+. So go and spend some time on Google’s social network, but don’t forget to click the +1first!