Why use Google Plus for business?

Since its launch in mid-2011, a solid partnership has formed between Google Plus and business. The social media platform now has 250 million registered users, with 150 million of them active and ten million new accounts opening every month.

The pace of Google Plus activity has quickly upgraded its project status to a marketing force that combines business and social networking in profitable harmony.

On its release, internet marketing analysts predicted its future as Google search engine’s future determinant of SEO rankings. Perhaps an early clue was in its developer’s references to the social media newcomer as a ‘recommendations engine’.

The most visible signal that internet marketers are embracing the Google Plus SEO theory is the growing prevalence of its ‘+1’ symbol on branded promotions. The red and white Google Plus icon is now almost as ubiquitous as the FaceBook ‘Like’ button.

While internet marketers await official confirmation of any SEO connection to page ranking, when it comes to social networking for business, the site functionality of Google Plus and persistence of the SEO rumour are combining to create snowballing interest in nurturing customer engagement through Google Plus accounts.

How is Google Plus different?

Initially it was considered as simply the search engine giant’s inevitable social media rival to FaceBook. But as Google Plus developed beyond the project phase, the rate of its commercial adoption highlights its design for simultaneous business and social networking.

This is in contrast to FaceBook prioritising social interaction and later adapting to meet the demands for business communication on the site.

It’s true that many elements of Google Plus are similar to FaceBook and Twitter. The important contrasts in functionality reach across social and business networking. Most significant is the value of its embedded connection with the greater Google environment.

Its late arrival on the social media scene gave Google Plus developers the advantage of hindsight in commencing their new product with brand promotion as an intentional feature that FaceBook and others adopted in maturity.

It’s clear to internet marketers, from sole traders to corporate giants, that Google Plus was constructed with brand promotion given equal status to social connectivity.

One difference to even out the Google Plus business and social networking environment is that users can follow others without requiring their acceptance.

Removing permission from the equivalent of ‘friending’ and ‘unfriending’ saves time and prevents the personal that became a distracting talking point for FaceBook. The nature of following others by a single click on Google Plus keeps relationships dynamic, just like on Twitter, whether as social acquaintances grouped by common interest or brand networks for business.

However, unlike tweeting, Google Plus permits unlimited content length. The advantage here is that visitors wandering through content remain contained within your brand’s general domain, extending time spent on your site, engagement with your content and ultimately, boosting your SEO.

Why use Google Plus for Business?

There are two broad benefits of Google Plus that every internet marketing business relying on SEO must consider.

The first is as an outlet for two-way engagement on multiple levels of user absorption, from the hasty ‘+1’ click, to contributing extended commentary.

Google Plus can also save you money on promotions and make you money too, by dramatically increased sales. This happens when your brand advocates convert members of their circles to buyers by sharing positive experiences.

Another perspective on Google Plus for business is its unique convenience as one section of a familiar product suite.

As a feature-rich social destination at a one-stop hub, Google Plus users stay connected to all their regular Google services, by a single toolbar. Their favourite links like Google Maps, YouTube, Play, Images, Books, News, Gmail and of course, the world’s most popular search engine, remain a click away while on the network.

Sharing through Circles

At the core of Google Plus are ‘circles’, the term for customised groups tailored by whatever category suits the user. Contacts and organisations are selected and dragged into designated interest groups using the Google toolbar, streamlining the contact addition process.

Making it quick to group contacts and reach others is an important advantage of Google Plus for business, because users can become your brand advocates with a simple action that can become habit-forming when you have built trust through quality content.

The Google Plus circles can be used creatively by businesses. You can customise them for exclusivity; use them to test offers; to conduct market research. And make changes to the groups as customers’ habits change.

Google Plus and SEO

According to SEO commentators, the greatest potential of Google Plus for business is that Google search results by the platform’s users may eventually be tailored to their account’s browsing history.

The calculation inference of ‘+1’ is a clever branding message providing some reason for the buzz about a potential direct relationship between Google Plus and SEO algorithms.

The theory behind the rumour is that the more your brand features in Google Plus ‘circles’, the more your page rankings will benefit as the search engine tightens its grip on market share.

This prediction has started to define Google Plus as more than just a competitor to FaceBook. The potential to blend SEO with the networking advantages of Google Plus implies that internet marketers without a Google Plus account could be left behind.

Notifications

Google Plus notifications to circles are emailed (a feature that can be switched off) and, less intrusively, through the toolbar.

From the toolbar’s drop-down arrow, users can respond instantly with a ‘+1’ or a comment. It means users can view or share content from anywhere in the Google suite, without interrupting other activities.

Authorship Markup & SEO

Authorship markup is an individual’s direct benefit of having a Google Plus account. It’s when an online writer, usually a blogger, is provided a snapshot of their article library on Google landing pages to encourage immediate click-throughs by web browsers.

Google Plus authors are listed by the Google search engine with the enhancements of a photo (from their Google Plus account), prominent display of the number of Google Plus circles in which they are included (indicating their breadth of influence) and a shortlist of links to relevant articles.

With blogs so popular among general web content, providing this detail at a glance is a strong reason for mixing business and social networking on Google Plus. It also promotes Google Plus members within the Google network, potentially building followers from among web browsers using keywords relevant to your business.

Company authors with Google Plus accounts will benefit from the way their blog pages appear in searches. A browser sent straight to a business website’s blog page will potentially spend longer on your site, exploring multiple pages and boosting your SEO.

Google Plus authorship markup is regarded as the strongest indication of a change to SEO algorithms in favour of Google Plus accounts.

The feature is highly desirable to millions of bloggers. Authorship markup extends personal credibility for the individual writer. Further, through its SEO advantages, it increases the brand legitimacy of the company a blogger directly represents as well as that of any other business linked or mentioned in a post.

To search engine users, the extra detail authorship markup displays improves their landing page experience because there’s no need to click through to another page to judge the usefulness of a link.

Interactivity

Google Plus uses hashtags, just like Twitter, to group postings by topic and make them instantly searchable. Hashtags are also used in the same way on Google Plus as on Twitter, to reveal trends. Any business on Google Plus can harness a trend to commercial advantage where the topic of the day is relevant to its content strategy or news.

Also like tweeting, you can include or promote another party and their account address using the ‘@’ symbol. Used appropriately, this direct access can stimulate a conversation with more influencers among your circle as well as the other party’s.

Hangouts are a tool for videoconferencing with up to 10 people. Businesses can use them for internal discussion or to invite selected customers to join an exclusive visual presentation in real-time.

Content rules Google Plus

The challenges and risks of Google Plus for business are the same as for all social media, in their collective environment of overwhelming distraction. Maintaining high quality content is the goal, with viral negativity the danger to be avoided.

Its potential as a business social network is powerful when your branded content becomes a regular part of the consumer’s online world. Achieving this seamlessly takes creative ingenuity, a bit of consumer psychology and perseverance. Aim to provide new information in the right tone for your brand, that solves a problem or makes life easier for the reader.

As always, it’s the big corporations and early adopters taking the lead on Google Plus. Below are some sites to spark ideas for your own internet marketing strategy:

Gourmet Traveller

PPQ Personalised Plates Qld

National Storage

Android Australia

Coles

Sydney Opera House

Mashable

Contact us to chat about Google Plus in your Business

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