Google+ is arguably one of the most important social networks for both businesses and marketers – it’s something you need to embrace if you haven’t already done so.
Having a Google+ profile is something that should be integral to your content focused SEO strategy and if you haven’t already been persuaded to create your Google+ profile, then we sure you will be after reading this article. This article sets out to provide you with a basic overview of what it is and how to get started – and highlights some of the key benefits for your business.
So let’s start off with the basics…
A Google+ page is your business’s home on Google; it’s literally Google with a plus. And as a business, you’ll want to get your brand on here – because it isn’t just a social network, it’s part of a powerful search and social platform that integrates with key capabilities such as Google Docs, chat, hangouts, email and more!
Many of us share the common misconception that Google+ is a ghost town. In reality, Google+ has over 359 million active users and is home to vibrant, active communities that foster deep engagement.
What’s key is learning what the Google features are, and taking advantage of them – but before we help you with that, you need to know how to set it up and make your Google+ Business Page user friendly.
How to set up your Google+ Business Page:
It’s very simple to set up a Google+ Business Page, but remember this has to be done via a personal Google+ account – if you haven’t set up a personal page yet then you can do it here. If you already have a gmail address – then you already have a G+ account – it’s just that you haven’t done anything with it. So login to Google using your gmail address and you will see the G+ option. Fill out the relevant info – and then you’re in.
Once you’ve created your personal profile, you can then create a business page – do this by clicking on the pages icon from the left hand navigation. Then by following a few simple steps, Google will walk you through picking a business category, followed by completing a few details about your business e.g. company name, picture, town and contact details.
Getting to grips with Google+:
- Now that you’ve got your page set up, it’s time to explore the ways you can customise it. Recently, Google updated the platform to give businesses the opportunity to put large header images on business pages – a great chance to use it as a ‘shop window’ to promote your brand/business/products or team.
- Like any kind of social media activity, patience is key. Don’t expect to gain new followers and customers overnight. You need to promote your page as much as you can: perhaps with discreet mentions using the ‘+’ before a name when you are sharing a post or status update on Google+ or by adding URL links to stationery and business cards, and use your existing social networks to encourage Google+ engagement (as well as your website of course!)
- Google+ is all about community, and the pages that do well are the ones that respond to shares, +1s and comments. Don’t ignore reactions to your posts – if somebody likes your post and shares it, remember to go back and thank them! Keep an eye out on your +1s too, these are a popularity ranking signal for SEO – and are equivalent to the number of ‘Likes’ on your Facebook Page. Ensure you add the +1 widget to your website pages and content – so that you make it easy for people to ‘like’ your content.
- Photos, videos and articles go down well on Google+ so if you have a blog, make sure that you update it regularly, and use this platform to promote it as well as other interesting articles and content.
Take advantage of the Google+ features for your business:
For those of you wondering why your business needs to be Google+ – take a look at some of the strictly Google+ features (you won’t find these on any other social network):
- Circle People
Like Twitter this feature allows you to follow people, but with the added bonus of being able to put the people you follow into groups – therefore you can group followers according to interest or any other criteria you’d wish to assign.
The people you circle will get a notification of you doing so, and are likely to follow your account back. This is a great way to closely target different interest groups, communities and conversations that matter to you. You can then communication a message just to a particular segment – so really useful for targeted messages.
- Google Reviews
Google reviews are important as they are a large contributing factor to your business’s ranking in search results. When someone writes a review on Google+ they can create a simple rating using a star system. These stars have great ‘eye-catching’ potential as well as increasing your click through rate. Once someone writes a review, it gets shared with their friends (people in their Google Plus ‘Circles’) – therefore giving your business more visibility.
If you don’t have Google+ reviews and a competitor does, they will likely rank higher than you when customers search for your services. So make sure you’re getting your customers to hit that pencil on your Google+ Page and give their feedback about your business.
- Google Hangouts
Looking to share knowledge or obtain feedback? Try a Google Hangout! Hangouts allow you to schedule online group events such as live Q&A sessions that allow multiple people to participate (think of it like a giant chartroom that you can control).
There are two different types of Hangouts: Hangouts and Hangouts on Air
– Hangouts are typically used for private video chats with another person or group of people. They are not recorded to YouTube and only visible to the people you invite to them – you can invite individuals or circles to join the hangout and up to 10 people can be on at a time.
– Hangouts on Air are publicly viewable and automatically recorded to your YouTube channel associated with your G+ account. Your broadcast will be viewable by the public once you click ‘Start broadcast’ from within the Hangout on Air – and the number of viewers watching your broadcast will be displayed at the top of the video call window.
These are great fun and very useful to showcase your business – just be sure not to make the same mistake we did on our first Google Hangout ! And remember, you can record Hangouts – so you are creating a great piece of content which you can then share on other platforms or via your website or blog too.
- Google+ Influences Search Rankings
Have you seen those +1s about when searching though Google+ pages? Shares or +1s of Google+ posts act like social recommendations that influence what searches see in Google when they log in.
After you have created a Google+ page – people are able to +1 your page which is essentially the same as a Facebook ‘Like’. Google uses the number of +1s on your page to determine how popular your business/brand is. This all helps to push your content up through the rankings.
- Google Posts get Indexed
This is a great thing about Google plus – having your posts indexed immediately into search results. Everything you post including all status updates are indexed pretty much immediately into search results which increases the possibility that your Google+ network will see your content in their search results.
Tip: To optimise you Google+ posts – use the appropriate keywords and don’t forget to create tags using the ‘#’ before your keyword.
- Google Authorship – an emerging SEO Ranking Signal
Google+ is a critical component of Google Authorship which is increasingly being used as a ranking signal. Think back to when you search in Google – do you ever wonder why some people’s faces show up in search results alongside a link? How do they do that?
Well, the answer is through Google Authorship! This allows your photo (the photo which is on your Google+ page) to appear directly in search engine results next to your page title – creating a visual element that naturally attracts searchers to your website.
Authorship allows you to link your content across the Internet, letting Google know what content you have created and that it originates from you. The more quality content you publish and the more it’s shared, the more positively Google will regard you -therefore boosting your Author Rank.
- Google Communities
The newly launched Google+ communities, gives your customers a place to mingle with each other about your products. It allows you to create, or participate in, focused groups of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest – these communities can be made public or private to invited members.
You can participate in them using your personal profile or your business page—an option you won’t find on any other social network. This means that you can build your business’ authority on a particular topic within communities as well as creating trust and getting direct feedback from customers.
- Embedded Posts:
While this isn’t an entirely ground-breaking move by Google (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all already done it), for Google+ enthusiasts, it’s big. With this update, website owners can now take any public Google+ post—whether a photo, text, or media—and add it directly onto their web pages.
What does this mean? This update will give anyone who produces content on Google+ a lot more opportunity to expand their audiences across the web. Think about it this way: a journalist can now stumble upon your personal or business update on Google+ and plug it right into a story.
Don’t forget to make the most of Google’s newest feature – Google+ Custom URLs which are short, easy to remember web addresses that link directly to your Google+ page. They make it easier for you to connect with others, as well as promoting your content. Once you’ve set up your Google+ page you can check here to see if your profile meets the criteria to carry out this feature.
So looking back, not only does Google+ increase authority and influence of your company, brand and boosts your search rankings – but it also offers some very cool features for you to take advantage of!
Have we persuaded you to get your business on Google?
In our view, Google+ will continue to go from strength to strength and its influence will continue to grow in the social media marketing arena. From the community itself, to the ability to write keyword rich content that links back to your sites – there are definitely some search and social advantages of being active on Google+. So don’t miss out and get your business involved!
This blog post was brought to you by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative, the online visibility experts and author of The Business of Being Social – A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn for all Businesses.