Here was my reaction to the introduction of Google+ around six months ago:
“Sweet, Google’s rolling out its own improved version of Facebook. Wait, it doesn’t look like there’s anything going on for businesses with this. Wow, not many clicking on the +1 buttons. Hmmm, none of the cool kids are playing much here – guess we’ll wait and see if this thing grows legs.”
Today, 90 million users later, wait mode is over. Google+ is running on fresh legs - and beckoning us to join while the echo from the starting gun can still be heard.
Jury’s still out, you say? Don’t really want to hear it, as you’ve hit a good stride with other social media activities you must manage? If this aligns at all with your thinking, then now is the time to pretend you have been a bad salesman, and I am Alec Baldwin, who has been sent on a mission of mercy to help set you straight.
The New Necessity of Google+ for Business
Regardless of your experience with Google+, you may still find yourself needing to articulate, even justify (to yourself, your clients or boss), why attention must be paid to this effort.
The most significant reason to get your business on Google+ is simple: The quality and corresponding engagement around your search engine visibility stands to either noticeably improve or gradually decline.
At the heart of this lies the new “Search Plus Your World” algorithm (also referred to as “Search+”), which relies on data collected from logged in Google+ users. The output is search results that display/promote People and (business) Pages in Google+.
This is a bold direction for Google, delivering search results based on a new range of personalization signals that include elements of user engagement we’re familiar with in Facebook (comments, shares, likes - or in Google’s case, +1’s).
Yes, this is still relatively early-stage, but make no mistake. New patterns are being established for the long term. Now, more than ever, is go time.
2 Top Advantages of Google+ Pages for Business
Although related changes to search results were an easy prediction several months ago, there’s now plenty more visible evidence from recent Google algorithm updates that demonstrate the importance of Google+ practices effecting search results both inside and outsidethe Google+ environment.
To clarify on the significance of that last sentence, consider for a moment the work that goes into maintaining status updates and community response on an active Facebook fan page.
Can you get relevant, topical access to Facebook engagement via a Google search? No way. But guess what? You can’t on Facebook either.
Status updates/wall posts come and go. Got a post on your Facebook fan page that got over 350 comments? Cool, but too bad it’s here today and gone tomorrow – soon to vanish with no commonly known way for anyone to look for or happen upon it in the future.
Like Facebook, you’ll see updates from those you follow (Circle) in Google+. But unlike Facebook, the content in your Google+ posts may turn into highly ranked search results on Google (again, inside or outside the Google+ environment) – providing keyword and topic-relevant search engine visibility that improves based on your “AuthorRank” and content-specific engagement levels.
A second key advantage relates to how you can target your messaging and more directly interact with your followers, organizing those you follow into the circles (groups) of your choosing. Google+ has done a good job of enabling a fairly intuitive way to track and engage with segments of an audience curated by you.
Learning From Early Adopters
Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice I can share with you as a marketer who is just getting setup in Google+ or wants to learn more is to create a circle called “Google+ Resources”, then begin to add people and pages who are on the cutting edge of this subject matter.
A good first Google+ page to add would be Google’s own Google+ Your Business page. Toby Stein, the Pages and Mobile Community Manager for Google+, is great about referencing helpful articles and other expert resources in the field.
Just this week, Gideon Rosenblatt created a circle that now has over 100 G+ influencers who have demonstrated various levels of thought leadership around social media in the context of this platform. You can follow all of them in the click of a button.
Additional Next-Step Recommendations
I’ve summarized some favorites here, many spelled out in greater detail on Mark Traphagen’s post regarding the “First 5 Things You Should Do with Your Google+ Business Page”:
- Optimize your page for SEO by completing the verification process, adding recommended links and being smart about keyword placement in your Introduction and Subtitle areas. Thanks to people like AJ Kohn, you can get a deeper understanding of this, and take a closer look at the Google+ anatomy from an SEO perspective, for both personal and business pages.
- Take advantage of the “Scrapbook” photos and text editing features to make your page visually appealing and consistent with your brand identity.
- As always, the quality of your content is of paramount importance. Post pictures and videos when possible. Make your first few posts very rich so new potential followers will be attracted by their first impression of what you’re putting out. Don’t assume what resonates on Facebook will also appeal to your audience here.
- Promote your business page by leveraging personal profile pages on G+, announcements/requests to follow on other social networks and by using the Google+ Badge on your web pages.
- Be thoughtful about how you segment your audience with circles, considering how you might post frequently and differently to targeted interests.
- Monitor your stream, and be intentional about +1’s, comments, and shares of your follower’s posts. As Traphagen notes, “such engagement seems to be more valued on G+ than on other networks, and will induce your followers to do the same for you.”
Search Results I See Are Looking Less Like Search Results You See
Despite the strong opinions in this post, and in hopes of convincing you I’m really not a Google groupie fan boy – I will acknowledge that Google’s changes, even with our ability to control multiple query settings, have continued to evolve in a manner that arguably supports the “filter bubble” problem presented in Eli Pariser’s Ted Talk.
Helen Brown recently referenced this, along with a statement I’m empathetically compelled to quote: “Just to do one search in Google the way I used to just last year, I have to turn off two things and turn one on. Every. Single. Time. This is progress?”
We face a slew of other issues and challenges as Google and digital marketing in general continue to evolve. For today, hopefully you gained something that will inspire your next action on Google+.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!