It snuck up so quietly that a lot of people didn’t even realize it was happening.
One minute you could post a comment on YouTube just by logging into your YouTube account, and the next you’re being asked to sign in through your Gmail or Google+ account. The same goes for Zagat and other Google owned digital web assets.
Google+ may not have caught on with users as a Facebook alternative yet, but the service’s “Plus 1” symbol is ubiquitous within social marketing, and top name brands are commonly listing the Google+ icon on television ads right next to their Facebook and Twitter symbols. Whether you like it or not, Google+ is quickly becoming a significant player in the social media marketing world because it has one thing going for it that no other social site has: Google.
Google plus is now the second largest social media network behind Facebook and can no longer be ignored.
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So Google plus marketing needs to taken seriously in your marketing strategy.
Reason #1. Search
Google’s approach for Google+ has been to seek success through visibility. Because of this, Google is constantly launching new applications that integrate Google+ with search results. A search for information about the election of Pope Francis in March 2013, for example, shows several Google+ post results from TIME, NBC and CTV, as well as author posts with images of the Google+ registered author catching the eye of the casual searcher.
For Google+ users, as long as you share blog posts with relevant, new (un-copied) information on a regular basis, you are that much more likely to be pushed up through the ranks of search results.
As with any search engine, keywords are a big factor in these results. How can you push your Google+ page up in search results?
- Post on a regular basis using relevant keywords in your text, but also integrate those keywords in other aspects of your Google+ page, such as in the “about” and “video” sections.
- Linking back to your own website where possible also improves your Google+ and personal website optimization.
- Creating a Google authorship for you and your most frequent posters helps your posts appear higher in search results, with the bonus of a personal author photo.
Reason #2. Google Authorship
There’s something about being able to look people in the eye that makes the advice or information you receive from them more reliable. But when you can’t look them in the eye, seeing a picture makes them seem a little more reliable and trustworthy. That’s the basic psychology behind Google+ authorship.
More and more, links to articles and posts relevant to your search in Google are popping up with images of the author posted on the left hand side. If you think that just by having a Google+ account and posting articles gets you one of these coveted search positions, however, that’s not entirely true. It takes a little more effort than that.
To create a Google+ authorship:
- You should already be posting on a regular basis on your website and cross-posting or linking the articles on your Google+ page, or just posting on your Google+ page. Make sure you note in each post that you’re the author.
- Once you’ve visibly established yourself, you can request authorship status from Google, which will then approve your profile image to appear next to posts you’ve written. The only catch is that your email address should be linked to the domain where you’ve posted content. For example, the author at www.webauthor.com would have an email address that read firstname.lastname@example.org. Some authors have found a way around this, however, by using a rel=author tag that links back to their author page in the content code posted on other websites.
If you’re struggling to get your business name out there or your own name acknowledged as a relevant writer, Google+ authorship is an excellent way to start. The visibility of that little profile icon can make all the difference in whether or not a casual searcher clicks on your link.
The only other aspect of Google+ that’s more visible, and even more of a bonus for businesses with Google+ accounts, is appearing in the coveted right hand space on search results:
Reason #3. The Coveted Right Hand Space
Let’s say you’re looking up a company with several franchises; Ford Motor Company, for example. Type it in to Google search and not only do you see the link to the main Ford website, but the right hand side of the screen fills with a map showing the Ford dealership locations closest to you and a live feed of the most recent posts on Ford’s Google+ page. For stores with brick and mortar locations, this can be a huge benefit.
The way it works is that Google search is constantly updating with new information, and the most recent and relevant information posted in Google+ that’s related to your search is likely to appear in that right hand space. If you’re regularly posting on topics relevant to your industry and your Google+ site shows consistent updated content, then your Google+ page — and articles you’ve posted that are relevant to someone’s search — are much more likely to appear in that space.
Reason #4. Sign In With Google+
In late February 2013, Google announced that app developers for web and mobile would have the option of using Google+ for their programs’ login, signup and identity verification.
Just like with logging into Gmail, Zagat or YouTube, users would be able to simply enter their Gmail email and password and instantly login to the new app.
Even though developers already have the option of using Facebook for new member signup and login, the benefit of Google+’s login is that it can prompt the user to install the app for their Android if they’re browsing from their desktop and it will be installed on his or her phone instantly. iOS users, however, are sent to the Apple App Store to download the mobile app, but the integration of mobile and desktop is still a significant plus for new programs and services.
Another advantage is that Google+ is able to avoid a significant amount of what’s been deemed “social spam” by already having the ‘Circles’ feature in place. New users signing into an app with Google+, for example, would receive information based on their circles and preferences. A fan of jazz signing into a new music app, for instance, would receive information about the latest releases from significant jazz artists.
Companies are already experimenting with the level of integration they can offer to their app users. Flixter, for example, not only adds a date to your calendar when you set up a movie date with friends; it also gives you the top reviews about the film you’re going to see, as well as what some of your other friends might have said about it.
Depending on the type of business you have and what you hope to do with your website and/or mobile app, the level of integration provided by Google+ can make a big difference in how you speak directly with, and provide for, your customers.
Reason #5. Google+ Ripples
As Google+ notes on their website, “Your content is your social currency.” But you don’t really know how much currency you have until you know how many people are reading your content. For this reason, Google+ launched a feature known as ‘Ripples’ in late 2011. It’s easy to miss in all the lists of features provided in your Google+ account, but for business owners, it’s probably one of the best functions they can use.
How does Google+ Ripples work?
Google Ripples is basically an interactive circle graph showing who has publicly shared a particular post. So how does Ripples work?
- To see if your (or any other) post has been shared and by whom, just click on the small down arrow in the upper right hand corner of the Google+ post and click “view ripples.”
- The graph shows the original post in the center and who shared it, in circles radiating outward. If someone else shared from one of those other circles, another, smaller circle will appear with their name and so forth.
- By hovering over the name you can see any comments the re-poster might have made. Apart from getting a good idea of who finds your posts interesting enough to repost, you can also see how important each re-poster is by the size of his or her circle. The larger circles mean that other people have read their re-posting of your article and have then shared it with others.
What is the impact of your followers sharing?
It’s a great way to see, in an instant, which of your followers has the most impact in the sharing of your posts.
Knowing your most important and influential followers is incredibly helpful, especially with Google+’s circles aspect. With it, you can group your most influential re-posters and send them important content, valuable coupons and anything else you might want to spread quickly and immediately to as many readers as possible.
It’s likely that Ripples mirrors how website analytics will look in the next couple of years, because it’s so easy to read and react to.
Like it or not, Google+ is becoming an important part of web commerce. And if you use Google or any of its services, you won’t be able to hide from it for much longer. For small business owners, jumping on now and learning the ins and outs can not only give you an advantage in the future, it can help you start building up the visibility of your business immediately.
What do you think?
What do you think of Google+? Has it helped your business at all? What are some of the advantages or disadvantages you’ve found to having a Google+ page?