Why you should care about Google Plus

Surely not another social networking site?

I know what you are thinking. Is this really another thing we need to be on? With so many different online marketing channels available to small business owners in 2013, it can be tough to make the right call on where to direct your time and energy when it comes to social media.

The ecosystem for social media marketing can be pretty overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a short list of reasons why we think you should start to take notice of Google Plus and why it could be a great match for your business. We’re good like that.

What is Google+?

First launched in July 2011, Google+ is a free social networking site that borrows a lot of elements from Facebook and Twitter, but includes some exciting additions for small business that can give you a competitive edge in social.

Much like its larger rival Facebook, Google+ centres around your personal profile. It has the familiar ‘profile wall’, allowing you to post messages, articles and photos and comment on those posted by others. But under the hood Google+ is part of a much bigger picture by Google to provide a ‘social layer’ to its products, and give users more ways to interact with each other.

Here’s the top five reasons we think it’s worth investing time and energy into Google Plus:

#5 – Make the most from your content

One of the main goals for Google+ was to create a ‘real community’ to interact and share information in truly meaningful ways. As of January 2013, Google+ had grown its user base to over 400 million users and while this trails significantly behind Facebook, one interesting piece of data is hidden within the way that people use Google+.

Core to a successful social media strategy is creating fresh and engaging content that tells the story about your products or services and gets your followers talking about you. Content like this costs time and money to create, so you want to get the best bang for your buck when you post it.

According to research, Google+ users are more likely to be engaged with the content they discover. They are more likely to read and absorb information from stories and articles than the same content posted on Facebook. We’ve all been there. It’s much easier to ‘Like’ someone’s post than actually read it. Apparently, that’s not just me.

#4 – It’s part of Google’s big plan

Undoubtedly the leader in search, Google also has a stable of other incredibly successful apps under its belt. With hundreds of millions of users relying on their products such as Google Drive and Google Docs everyday for business and personal use, it’s difficult to see Google not leveraging the benefits of Google+ for users any time soon.

# 3 – Build credibility and increase traffic with Google Authorship

With Google+ being so deeply integrated into their products, Google needed an environment where articles, opinions and reviews were backed up by real people. As you know, anybody can write and post anything on the internet, and not all information is true and correct. Google Authorship tries to create a more transparent experience by giving authors incentives to ‘stand behind’ their content.

By ‘connecting’ your Google+ account to articles or posts you write and publish on your website or blog, Google can display your name, your Google+ profile photo and the number of ‘circles’ you are in within the Google search engine results page.

Besides increasing your physical presence on the search results page (always a good thing), Google Authorship instantly adds a layer of legitimacy and credibility that is tough to match. Your readers can make an instant connection to a ‘real live person’, which is an extremely powerful conversion tool.

#2 – Stand out from your competitors with AuthorRank

Making the effort to connect yourself to your content has other benefits too.

Introduced into their search algorithm in 2011, Google AuthorRank determines the quality of content based on the reputation and credibility of its author. In short, the more experienced Google thinks you are in your industry or topic, the higher any articles or blogs you write will rank in their search results.

By building up AuthorRank, you can increase your reach and exposure in Google search for your business website.
Great, so how do I do that?

Links – Quality and quantity of incoming links to your content is a key contributor to AuthorRank.

Social Activity – Those shares, likes, and +1’s now matter more than ever.

Timeliness & Consistency – Publishing quality content on a regular basis .

#1 – Increase your impact close to home with Google+ Local

In early 2012, Google revealed that their popular location-based ‘Google Places’ was to become their new all in one solution for business called ‘Google+ Local’.

I’m sure many people will be familiar with the concept of Google Places, which effectively ties your business to a location on Google Maps and displays additional information to users about you. Handy.

Details of your address and opening hours, types of payments accepted and customer reviews are all now managed through Google+ Local pages with your Google+ account. You can even add photos and video of your products and services to provide further information to potential customers.

By bringing their local business listings into their Google+ ecosystem, Google have also enabled the ability for Plus users to review businesses and attach their face and name to the reviews, much the same as the Google Authorship program to bring more transparency to this process. Seeing a friend or colleague’s face next to a review of a restaurant is another powerful tool to increase conversion rates.

Summary: Bringing it all home

We believe that investment into Google+ is extremely worthwhile for a business operating in the online space for both now and the future. The effect of adding a real face to your business in Google, and to any content you create is not to be underestimated. The additional exposure this can bring your search engine listings is real and measurable.

If you would like more information on how you can get involved with Google+, Excite Media can help. Get in touch with us today and let’s discuss your social media strategy.

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