Smart marketers should keep a close eye on Google+. Launched in 2011, Google+ is the newest of the major social networks. In just over six months, the platform amassed more than 90 million users, posing a serious challenge to LinkedIn’s 135 million members. Yet, despite this impressive growth, the adoption of Google+ pales compared to that of Facebook, which has more than 800 million users.
Google+ was open to individuals for personal use from the beginning, with the ability to share stories with their circles, get involved in discussions and participate in video conference calls, called Hangouts. However, the social network did not immediately provide businesses with much value, leaving many marketers to wonder how to truly benefit from Google+.
Eventually, Google+ rolled out business pages, enabling companies to create pages, and encouraging businesses to grow their following. But why should marketers, who already must maintain their company Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed, not to mention a company website and blog, be concerned with yet another social network?
10 Quick Facts About Google+
- Pages can’t add people to Circles until the page is added first or mentioned.
- Pages can be made for a variety of different entities, whereas profiles can only be made for people.
- The default privacy setting for elements on your business page is public.
- Google+ Pages automatically unfollow you, if you unfollow them.
- Pages have the +1 button (Google+ parlance for an endorsement).
- Pages can’t +1 other pages, nor can they +1 content on the web.
- Pages don’t receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
- Pages don’t have the option to share to ‘Extended Circles.’
- Local pages have special fields that help people find the business’ physical location.
- Google+ Pages can’t even mention you unless you’re connected.
Features of Google+ for Business
Google+ allows businesses to create pages and develop relationships with prospects and customers on many levels. Individuals can add a brand to a specific Google+ Circle, share a Google+ page with their network, and interact with the content posted by that company. For instance, users can +1 a company, leave comments, upload photos, and tag the brand in them. An interesting aspect of this platform is that its Hangouts feature enables companies to engage with fans, prospects, and customers through video conference calls.
Benefits of Google+ in Search
There are a number of ways Google+ influences how a website gets traffic from Google’s search engine, whether by boosting its position in search results, increasing the chances that people will click into the site, or other factors.
1. Improving Google’s Intelligence
As a result of Google+, Google is able to enhance its search engine results with information gathers from users’ social circles. By using the social elements of Google+, Google can better understand trends and predict what people are interested in faster than ever before. By combining what Google knows about a visitor’s search query with what they know about their search habits, and those of their social circles, Google can return more relevant and targeted ads and search results, similar to the way a friend might recommend a solution to a question.
2. Improved Search Result Quality
Another benefit that Google+ brings to search is that results become much harder to cheat. Google can now more easily police who has a real profile and who is a spammer. When Google sees profiles that only share and vote for things on one website, or others dominated exclusively by +1s, it might get suspicious. Less gaming in Google’s results is a long-time goal for the search engine giant.
3. Changing How You Get Traffic
Google also rolled out its version of the tweet or share button, the +1. These +1 buttons appear in Google’s search results and can be embedded on other websites as well. They are tied to a destination page address, such as a blog article or landing page, just like shares or tweets. The +1 count that is displayed on each button is tied on the address of the page where it is displayed. Change the URL of a page of your site, and the +1 count will be reset. And the number of +1 votes affects its Quality Score, which is critical for paid ads on Google.
Despite its slow rate of adoption, Google+ is not just any social network. Google+ is a social network powered by the search engine giant Google. The platform has a direct impact on search results and reshaping the user’s experience of doing research in Google.