So we’re quickly heading into 2016 and we’re still having the same old debate – “should my business be on Google+?” From the user’s perspective, not much about Google+ seems to have changed over the past few years. However, from other perspectives, the nature of the platform has changed significantly.
Firstly, Google pulled all of the resources it was spending on promoting it and secondly, Google has been continually, subtlety increasing the influence of the platform. Google+ is an important social network – we just don’t yet know how important it will become.
So, the important question:
Should my business start using Google+?
And this might come as a shock:
Yes. If you’re not already using it, you need to start using Google+. The truth is you’re probably already using it in some capacity and so are most of your target audience.
Look: we are actually on it too!
My business needs to start using Google+? What, really? I thought no one used it!
Right, time to get real. Google runs this joint (this joint being the internet) and they have a social network they’d like people to start using. You may have already noticed that you now need a Google+ account to have a Youtube account – this is just one of a whole host of changes Google is making to the internet to get you using Google+.
If you have a Gmail account, an android phone, a Youtube account or Google places for your business, you already have a Google+ account.
Okay, so I might have a Google account but why does my business need Google+?
So there are actually three very good reasons.
1. Every business needs to be set up on Google Places and, ideally, collect reviews there. Google Places is not just an indicator to Google that your business is legit (for SEO) but signals to your customers that you’re legit. To have a Google Places account, you must have had your business address verified by Google to it’s a big tick in the authenticity box. You will also find that you Google Places listing will show up in Google searches for your or similar businesses in your area.
2. Google+ is a way to cheat at SEO (and not in a black-hat way!). Social media indicators are important both directly and indirectly for SEO but we now know that Google+ plays a very interesting role. If you’ve ever had contact with someone over Google (using Gmail, for example), your business will show up in their search results where appropriate. This means you get a mega SEO boost within your existing Google network (which could be a very significant factor).
3. Traffic hacking. SEO isn’t everything when it comes to Google and Google+. Search marketing will play a key role in generating traffic and sales but Google+ can help you direct traffic through referral. People do use Google+ and their ‘circles’. Just like any other social platform, links from you Google+ bio and from the content you share, all stands to generate click back to your website’s key content and pages.
What does this mean for me?
Naturally, you’re going to want to start sharing your content through Google+. If more and more companies start doing it, there are cyclical benefits for Google+ because more and more good quality content will be shared. This means it’s going to become a much more valuable platform to be present and active on for both individuals and businesses.
Has there been an increase in active usage?
The changes made by Google have caused a shift in digital, SEO and social media marketing strategy. Google’s ranking algorithm is notoriously complex and dynamic so as soon as we know anything specific is important within it, it won’t take long for people to exploit it. Google+’s impact means digital marketers are having to use it and recommend using it to their clients – just like we are!
Will Google+ be the next big thing?
This is really difficult to say. It’s already a big deal. I guess what we’re trying to ask if it will be a Facebook or Twitter in terms of social influence and active user base. After Google pulled the promotion budget, it seemed like the end was nigh but it was just Google changing its tact. Did we mention that Google owns the internet?
Social media platforms, especially the successful ones tend to take years to reach maturity. Google+ stands a chance but it will be a struggle after so much bad press and almost humiliatingly bad levels of usage. With the commercial market needing the masses; the students, the parents, the average Joes to be active on there, does it have the usability and potential to engage as much as the likes of Twitter and Facebook? The people will decide.
Google+ features you might not know about
Let’s have a quick look at the features Google+ has to offer; there are quite a few. The coolest feature that is the most interesting is Google ‘circles’. Circles allow you to place your contacts into specific groups – very important for personal use. This means that you can filter what posts your family sees, what you show your friends, and keep business colleagues separate from your everyday life (if you want to!).
This idea of circles seems to appeal to the organisation freaks amongst us; you can have plain simple groups, or sub-groups too. One person can fit in numerous groups and there is no limit to the number of circles you can have.
Another feature you should have heard about is the ability to ‘Hangout.’ Hangout, put simply, is a way of ‘hanging out’ with friends through live video chat. You can hangout with one or several circles, and if you are invited to another hangout whilst already hanging out with others, you can choose to leave and join the other. One of the main positives of this hangout feature is that you can be added by a friend to hangout with people you don’t know. This is networking in the 21st century at its finest.
The last feature that has gotten people talking is called ‘sparks.’ Similar to liking a page on Facebook, or following a brand on Twitter, Sparks will keep you updated on the things you like. Basically, a Google alert linked in with your profile.
Here’s the important bit:
Google+ was designed by the experts with users in mind. It is an exceptional platform. It is a social network that allows you to select what information you share with whom, keep you up to date with items that interest you and ‘hangout’ from the comfort of your own home. It’s brilliants, it’s just never had the brand and uptake of the mainstream platforms.
Google+ for businesses
It stands to reason that your business should have an optimised profile and be updated regularly. Increasing the size of the your circles simply amplifies the reach of your posts and the likelihood of posts directing traffic to the website.