Even before Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s social division that runs Google+, announced he was leaving the company back in April this question still hung in the minds of many brands and marketers, “Should I be on Google+?” Many jumped on the bandwagon in 2011 and were successful, others not so much. The uncertainty of whether to use Google+ still lingers even today.
There is much to consider when evaluating whether to create a new profile on a new social platform. Your marketing team needs to determine if the audience is there, if there is room in the budget to manage the community, if creating a profile aligns with the existing strategy and so on. Sure there are a load of benefits, but how will it benefit your brand specifically? We can’t work on the “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
Benefits of Google Plus for Business
Google+ can be beneficial for your business in a variety ways, depending on your goals. One big reason to consider using Google Plus for business is that it can help your brands become more visible in Google search. Here are five ways your brand can reap SEO benefits with and without being on Google+.
1. Authorship. Google Plus is used for “authorship” with publishing blogs. It requires a simple technical implementation to tie in with contributors’ Google+ personal profiles. It also improves content rank and displays author data in search results, which in turn bumps pages higher up in the search and builds trust for your content. Trust turns into higher click-throughs. It also provides a way for your team to build authority in a specific topic. Wins all around.
2. Organic Traffic Growth. Creating a Google Plus Business Page can help content publishers improve organic rankings on blogs and articles by posting them to Google+ (note that a page is not the same as a Places location listing, unless they are merged). When you share links to your website on your Google Plus Page, it is a generally held belief by the search community that it helps website pages rank higher in the Google search engines.
3. Google Integration. Google loves Google. As you know, they have a lot of products that we use on a daily basis. An integrated Google Plus Page to a Google Places location listing to a YouTube channel is the ideal implementation for brands to receive maximum benefits from Google search. The more your brand shows up in each of these Google platforms, the better chance for showing up in a Google search.
4. Link Equity & Sharing. You do not need a Google Plus Page to leverage the +1 sharing button. This can be implemented to specific product and website pages within your set of sharing buttons. You get the SEO benefit using the customer’s Google+ profiles while driving word of mouth.
5. Google Places. Local listings can, and should be, claimed and managed just to ensure their information is consistent and correct. And any duplicates merged or removed. You will also want to ensure new stores are added and old stores are removed from maps. This is important to local search and the most effective thing you can do as a brick n’ mortar business to get customers in the door.
So should I be on Google+?
Building a Google+ audience will take the same amount of time and effort as Twitter, Facebook and any other social network. Whether you like it or not, Google+ is here with over a billion users (for now at least). The answer to the question of whether or not to use Google Plus for business remains in your hands. Here is a short and simple way to answer this for yourself:
Are my customers using Google+?
If the answer is no, the answer is no. You do not need a Google+ presence unless you are a publisher and looking for a pure SEO play.
Is my brand actively blogging and plans to long term?
If the answer is no, you probably do not need a Google+ page unless your audience is using it and you plan to use it as an engagement play. You can add a +1 button to any web page but the SEO benefit really kicks in with publishing content and assigning authorship to that content. This is a long-term strategy.
Do I have the resources to support another social network?
If the answer is no, you should not have a Google+ page. It could be argued that publishers can automate posting blogs to a Google+ page for SEO purposes only. This combined with authorship can bring benefits, not all measurable and proven. And perhaps not enough benefit to water down the quality of your brand marketing.
But I want to promote my products on Google+.
Sorry, Google+ does not currently provide any specific features for highlighting, searching, or buying products. You’ll want to look into Google Adwords advertising for search marketing and try out new features that use a Google+ post as an ad unit (like Facebook sponsored stories). I highly recommend considering Pinterest which does provide product features that tie into eCommerce. This strategy seems to be working well for retailers for organic reach and conversion. For proof, take a look at Walmart.com’s trending products section. Keep in mind that the Pinterest audience is composed primarily of women across a wide demographic. But we are the ones making all the buying decisions, right?
Good luck and remember that organic search and social media are a long-term tactic that combine content, with trust, with customer relationships. If you are looking for FAST, direct response marketing – paid media is still your best option. Unless of course you have a huge audience like Nike excitedly waiting on your next post.