It’s fair to say that Google+ didn’t start off great.
Although many people had a G+ account (after all, you need one to access Gmail and so on), very few people were active users, and nobody seemed to really understand what it could offer beyond what Facebook and Twitter were already doing. But roll on another two years and the story has changed vastly.
As of March 2014, Google+ had over 1.6 billion users, the second most of any social network (or ‘social layer’, as it likes to be described), after Facebook. Although this sounds impressive, many of these users are not active on Google+ itself, but on Google’s other integrated products, e.g. Search, Calendar, Gmail, Maps, Drive and YouTube.
But there are 540 million monthly active users, which is still an incredible number and more than double that of Twitter. And the numbers keep increasing.
So what does all this have to do with your website and your company? Let’s look a bit more closely.
Why you shouldn’t dismiss Google+
There are many advantages to Google+. Not only is the interface user-friendly and already linked with many other services you’re probably using, it gives you the ability to connect with people you don’t already know, has a range of lively and engaging special interest communities and there’s no limit to the length of post you can publish.
Although these are all good reasons to use the platform, there is one reason above all others not to dismiss Google+. SEO.
For small and medium-sized businesses especially, increased search engine rankings can be a huge factor in website visibility, visitor numbers and ultimately conversions. And when it comes to search engines, Google is the biggest fish in the pond.
What’s the deal with Google+ and search ranking?
In many instances, content that you post to your personal or business Google+ page (and yes, it often pays to have both running in tandem) can rank much higher in search results than your website does.
For small businesses, you can suddenly find your latest blog post on page one of Google Search, whilst your business page for that keyword is still on page three or four. And all because you shared your latest blog post on Google+.
Both having Google+ followers and gaining +1s increase your search rankings more than similar ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ on Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, Google Authorship means that when you post an article or blog post on Google+, your photo will appear next to your post, increasing your credibility, getting your face ‘out there’ and improving the chances of people clicking onto your link. Sounds good? It is.
Tips for making the most of Google+
If you’re new to Google+ and want to know how to best utilise it to drive traffic to your website, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make sure that your website is linked to your Google+ account
- Include a Google+ sharing badge on your site so that people can share your content on the platform
- Set up both a Google+ business page and a personal page and develop both in tandem for optimum effect
- As with any online platform, post informative and compelling content for your followers
- Post regularly and consistently
- Add relevant hashtags to your posts
- Comment and +1 other people’s content in a polite, interested and professional manner
- Add relevant industry leaders and businesses to your circles
- Use the names of other Google+ users within your posts to send them a notification and encourage them to interact with you
- Join or even create your own communities to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and get to know other people within your industry and niche
Google+ looks set to continue its rise and become increasingly important in search engine optimisation for companies of all sizes, so if you haven’t got a Google+ business page yet, it’s probably about time you did.
Although many of your clients and competitors might not be active on Google+ yet, putting some effort in now to getting yourself and your company a solid reputation on the platform might prove to be one of the best marketing decisions you ever made.