When Google Plus opened its doors to all users in 2011, social media marketers and enthusiasts expected it to overtake Facebook’s hold on the social media market.

That, however, didn’t quite happen, but nevertheless, Google Plus remains a strong contender for social media attention . With over 500 million users on the site, the social platform continues to grow and expand its reach to users and especially businesses.

Google Plus offers several unique features, including Google Plus Communities, that Facebook and Twitter can’t quite give you. Still unsure about how to successfully market yourself on Google Plus or what its Google Plus Communities can offer you? Read more below.

Google Plus at a glance

There are several major advantages that Google Plus business pages have over their counterparts on Facebook. While you shouldn’t neglect your Facebook page entirely, it is important to remain active and engaging on both pages. Take advantage of some of these great Google Plus features.

Authorship: It’s often difficult to maintain a sense of authorship, authority, and authenticity on the Internet because it’s so easy to simply copy, paste and claim a blog post as your own. To prevent people from infringing on your work, Google Plus allows you to claim your authorship.

  • On your profile, upload a great picture of yourself and fill out the necessary information for your profile.
  • Head to plus.google.com/authorship and sign up using your email. Google will send you a verification link

Now when people go to search for content related to your industry, they’ll pull up your Google Plus profile and be able to read your bio and see your pictures. As more people see and interact with your content, they’ll more than likely add you to their circles, opening your business up to a wider market.

Google Plus Local: Google Plus Local is one of the best ways to attract local consumers to your store. It’s especially beneficial to restaurants and stores in busy shopping districts as users can easily search and get directions your store. Google indexes these stores and ranks them higher in search results above those who do not have Google Plus Local. Reviews and recommendations will also be made available to searchers. Make sure all of your relevant information (store hours, address, phone number) is available to help users find you.

Better SEO: Obviously, Google Plus is part of the larger Google family, and as a result, Google ranks its pages just a bit higher than other pages.

google page on search results
Searching for Organic Angels brings up their results with Google Reviews and their Google page.

Google Plus also provides several great tools for its business users to help track their progress and better assess their social media standings.

  • The Plus 1 button and widgets: With these buttons, Google Plus users can easily share content from your blog and website as well as add you to their circles. Google estimates that about five million people use these buttons and widgets per day, so they’re worth an investment.
  • Social media reports: Wondering if what you’re doing on Google is really helping your social media marketing efforts? Google’s social reports help you monitor what is going on with your brand on social media , which can tell you how well your digital marketing efforts are working. Now that you know what you’re doing wrong or right, you can adjust you strategy.
  • Google Hangouts: Thinking of giving an online lecture or opening up a discussion about a certain topic? Google Hangouts allows you to host public and private conversations, share ideas and present product demos. The hangouts can be recorded and viewed at later dates, and they’re a great way to generate buzz within your industry.
  • Do Share: For the social media marketer with seemingly endless accounts, Do Share lets you put together a schedule of updates and posts. You’ll be able to share more consistently online, which leaves you time to create better quality content.

Google Hangouts for business

The importance of Google Plus Communities

Now that you know why having Google Plus is such a leg-up in the world of social media, it’s time to look at how its unique communities can enhance this great platform.

These online communities are a little more interactive than Facebook fan pages. Rather than interacting with a person or business, these communities rally around a topic or specific interest, such as hiking, cooking, science fiction literature and many others. Both people and businesses can join in discussions about the topic, post photos and videos and start a Google Hangout together.

Listed Google+ communities for health and fitness
Listed Google+ communities for health and fitness

As a business, it’s important to get involved with the communities pertaining to your industry. Your audience has already shown its passion for your topic. Now you just need to approach them and show them you are equally as passionate and as knowledgeable as they are. You can join in discussions, offer your own insights and answer any questions that come your way. Your network will grow in no time.

As you come across more and more questions, you’ll see how people interested in your topic or industry are struggling and what they’re really interested in. You can focus your marketing strategies on providing solutions to these problems or creating content that speaks to these interests. It’s like getting an inside scoop on what your market likes directly from the horse’s mouth.

Digital Marketing Community on Google+
Digital Marketing Community on Google+

Community members will come to value your insights and opinions as you engage with them and show off your talents. You’ll become an authority figure in your industry, and you’ll have a better chance of getting people to share your content with their friends, thus opening you up to a whole new market.

Don’t forget to post your website to help your SEO standings. By posting it on Google, you’ll not only put it right where your target audience can find it, but you’ll also improve your own link profile by creating healthy backlinks that propel your company site up in search results as Google usually pushes its own pages up above others. Remember not to post the site too much, or your community members will think you’re spamming the community.

Though Google Plus didn’t quite get all of Facebook’s audience, it still maintains a healthy following, and Google Plus Communities have helped cultivate that community. Your audience is talking with one another and sharing their passion for your industry all in one place. It’s up to you to tap into that market, illustrate your talents and remind consumers of your expertise. Get involved with your audience and show them why they need your business.