Written by Jennifer Dunphy Tuesday, June 19 2012
Google+ is a new form of social media, but do not assume that is just another networking site like MySpace or Facebook. Google+ brings a personal, inclusive touch to social networking as it allows you to share your life with circles of people you choose with the click and drag of a mouse. Find out why it may be to your advantage to utilize Google+ as a new tool for advertising your company brand.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about Google+ and how it is affecting the organic search results, specifically as it relates to search giant Google. With Google+, the already blurred line between social media and search marketing just got fuzzier. With all this hype, it's hard to believe that Google+ is really only affecting a small percentage of the overall search algorithm. With social signals (factors used by the search engines that take social media activity into consideration) currently making up approximately 7 percent of the overall search algorithm, exactly how heavy is the weight of Google+ in that 7 percent? Here is some food for thought: Google states that Google+ isn’t simply social – Google+ is part of search. Google+ gained 10 million users within the first 16 days after its private launch and 40 million within the first 100 days. As of April 2012, more than 170 million people now have Google+ accounts, but to what extent are they engaging on the site? Recent statistics show that the average person only spends 3.3 minutes a day on Google+, although their network is growing each month. Many marketers wonder is it really worth investing your company’s time, energy and budget into a Google+ campaign?
Google+ Helps your Organic SEO
The answer, in my humble opinion, is yes. I feel that every marketer needs a Google+ strategy and here is why: The most significant reason that I can give you to create a Google+ profile and business page is to improve your organic search rankings and help your SEO strategy. Although Google+ is still in its infancy, posts originating from Google+ pages tend to rank incredibly well in Google’s search result pages, assuming the post is relevant to a searchers query. This is a great way to gain additional momentum to your company’s SEO strategy. Google+ is really pushing the envelope with personalization and it is, in essence, forcing its success within the search engine's rankings.
When Google+ rolled out the Google “+1 button” and “Search Plus Your World,” they took a step forward in further personalizing the search experience for their users. If I am logged into my Google+ or Gmail account, and I perform a search, I am going to get results that are different than if I were logged out. Logged in, my results will be more personalized and tailored to my interests and my connections on the web, which will in return be more relevant to me. As we all know, delivering the most relevant search data is critical to the search engines because it will ensure that searchers are more likely to use Google over one of its competitors like Bing or Yahoo. With the personalized search results, things that are deemed more relevant to MY particular search query will be ranked higher in the natural search results. The results will vary for each logged in user.
You will also find that your posts and the posts of your network that were shared via Google+ will often out rank similar posts that were shared on Twitter or Facebook. Furthermore, you are more likely to see the relevant results that have received numerous +1’s from people in your network, because those links are deemed to be more relevant to your search query. So, in essence, the Google+1 button has an indirect impact on your SEO organic rankings. The more +1’s your site has, the more it will help with your site's organic rankings, click through rate and social shares. Google's bias to their own social network, for better or for worse, is just one more example of how Google+ is impacting your organic search results and if properly utilized, can help give your company a competitive advantage.
While there are numerous social networks that offer engagement and value for marketers, Google+ has one competitive advantage that is unmatched: It is Google! Here are 3 things your company can do to get the ball rolling with Google+.
Create a Company Page
First and foremost take the first step and secure your company page on Google+. It’s quick and easy to get started. The primary reason you should create a Google+ page for your business is simple. Google includes Google+ brand pages in the primary search results, thus enhancing the impact on your organic ranking results and helping to further your SEO initiatives. There has been a tremendous amount of controversy along with some accusations surrounding the monopolistic behaviors and the possibility that the search giant is abusing their dominant position in the market by including Google+ signals in the SERPs (search engine results page). But, the fact still stands that it is their engine, and they will do as they please.
Just like you would optimize the content on your website, be sure that you optimize your personal and business page on Google+. Ensure that your profile is complete with a descriptive summary and include links to your website and other social networks so that you can easily facilitate your social sharing. Leverage your other social profiles as well, both personal and business. Request that your fans on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn, and your followers on Twitter add you on Google+ as well. You will also want to include images, specifically your profile and “scrapbook” images. Aesthetics always help your profile to be more appealing to more people. One great thing to take advantage of from the beginning, are the “circles”. Google+ circles allow you to categorize your connections. You can create a circle for clients, employees, prospective clients, industry movers and shakers. The list goes on. By putting people in their proper circles, you can craft tailored messages to each circle, and only share the information that is most pertinent to them.
Utilize The Ripple Effect
Google+ Ripples are a great way to connect with the movers and shakers in your industry. Ripples (think of the ripple effect created by water) allow you to see all of the shares for a specific page that you shared, as well as how the link was shared with the network. Now you have access to not only the people that shared your post from your page but everyone overall that shared your post, even if you are not directly connected to them. When you know who is engaging with you and your brand, you are better equipped to quickly facilitate the information flow to your community and targeted audience. Available in over 60 different languages, Google+ Ripples is positioned to become a valuable tool for reputation management as well. With the analytics that are provided, you are able to see not only who shared the post, but who are your top influencers, allowing you to reach out to them and form a mutually beneficial business relationship.
You can view your post's Ripples by clicking on the expandable menu on the right side of any public posts.
Here is a post regarding Project Glass shared by Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and over 10,010 additional public shares.
Here you can see the statistical data around the post and utilize it to better engage with your audience and top influencers.
Hangout With Your Community
Every business owner would love to be able to get closer to their customers. With Google+, not only can they now get a little closer, they can actually “hangout” with their community. Google+ enables marketers to start a Google+ “hangout”, or simply join someone else’s hangout and get involved in the conversation. The direct face to face interaction allows businesses to create deeper interactions with their audience and to enhance brand loyalty. It enables businesses to have a more personal conversation with their community all within the comfort of their own office. Hangouts also present an excellent forum to quickly issue important updates and announcements to a specific audience.
In addition to being a phenomenal tool for client relations, you can also create internal hangouts for employees, where you can come together, strategize and collaborate or simply hold weekly meetings without requiring employees to report to the office. Better yet, hangouts come at zero cost to the business, unlike many other tools for collaboration.
As time goes on Google+ will likely continue to evolve and morph into not only a social media platform for the masses, but also a valuable resource for inter-company connectivity and collaboration. Give it a shot and see how it can help your business today.
Learn more about how you can utilize social media and the Internet as a business strategy for promoting your personal brand:
Jennifer Dunphy enlightens us on how to use LinkedIn to manage your online reputation.
Learn how to generate business buzz online with insights from Laura Roeder, web designer turned social media maven.
"Shoestring Marketing" expert Jessica Swanson shares 4 simple, inexpensive strategies for attracting business online.
Jennifer Dunphy, an accomplished sales and marketing executive, is currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Vayu Media. You can connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.