Guest Blog: Google+…or Minus?

There are a thousand SEO experts in Nashville. We use a couple because they have different skills that compliment our variety of clients. Grant Gofourth is one of them. Grant works closely with Barker & Christol advertising to develop great optimization strategies. Google+ is social, sure, but its also a key part of any modern Search Engine Optimization strategy; modern equals within the last thirty minutes.

 

written by Grant Gofourth

Why should I put my business on Google+?

There are lots of reasons to incorporate Google+ into your social media strategy.  In this article, we’re going to look at a handful of the most important ones.  But first, let me start by saying that Google+ isn’t the leading social media platform.  We all know that’s Facebook.  However, at 300+ million users, Google+ is a strong contender.

Who uses Google+?  Well, the type of user that you will likely see differs to some large degree from what you’d expect on Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest (especially Pinterest!).  As you may have already guessed, Google+ is populated by people that work with technology, are entrepreneurs and other “management types.”

According to a recent survey performed by globalwebindex.net, here are the Top 10 types of users on Google+ followed by the bottom 10:

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Images provided by GlobalWebIndex

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A couple of key takeaways from the data are that nearly 1/3 of people who self-identify as workers in Information Technology (IT) currently use Google+ and full time parents/divorced are ranked among the least likely to use the platform.  This helps us to understand who our audience is, and is important, “but…” businesses aren’t necessarily utilizing Google+ to reach their audience.  Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

There are many ways that Google+ can help you to reach your target audience that have nothing to do with them actually being an active Google+ user.  Who knows, if you have a compelling enough presence on Google+, you may even win them over.  I think that’s what Google’s hoping for, anyway.  That being said, they certainly do provide the tools to do just that.

Validity of your Google+ Page

Now that we know a little bit more about who is already using Google+, let’s talk about why you should.  When you’re considering whether or not to put your business on Google+, consider this… the validity of your page will have already been established.  After all, it’s “Google”+.  Google won’t have to waste anytime determining whether or not it’s a valid profile.  They have direct access to your posts and any other signals surrounding your page.  Not to mention, Google favors content posted via Google+ over anything else.

Prime Google Real Estate

If you join Google+ for no other reason, do it for visibility on Google’s search.  When a business joins Google+, their business listing, complete with photos and reviews, is placed on the right hand side of the search results for all to see.  This prime real estate can’t be bought, but is given away free by Google as a means to attract more businesses to their network.

Google Maps Integration

Connecting Google Maps to your Google+ page is not only easy to do, but it’s a great idea as well.  Data provided by SIM Partners shows that locally optimized business pages boosted their rankings to the “7-pack”, the cluster of local listings that frequently appear for localized searches (such as ‘schools in Murfreesboro’), by 179 percent, in the top two positions by 399 percent, and in the third through fifth positions by 97 percent. Prior to optimization, the businesses studied ranked in the top seven positions for only 26 percent of their keyword combinations.

Speaking of the “7-pack” search results, I feel that it needs to be said that in recent months Google has visibly dialed back their frequency.  We’ve seen a nearly 25% decline in this result type according to popular marketing analytics software provider Moz.  This is still a relevant result type, just not as powerful as it once was.

Versatility with Google Products

In addition to being helpful from an SEO perspective, Google+ is extremely versatile.  To outline some of that versatility… I’d like to touch briefly on Google Hangouts and Helpouts, and how incorporating these into your strategy can be beneficial.  Let’s say that you need to call a virtual meeting with your staff, or even a client.  Google Hangouts will allow you to connect and stream via HD video, voice or text and can be used from anywhere on nearly any platform.  It’s like a conference call on steroids… and the best part?  It’s free.

Hangouts are great, but potentially more exciting and certainly more interesting are Google Helpouts.  Helpouts allow you to provide a meaningful, “marketable” experience to your clients/customers, without them being required to leave the comfort of their home or office.  This can go a long way for both you and your customer alike.  Perhaps you’re a personal trainer and would like to host a virtual session with a client.  Maybe you’re a business coach and would like to offer one-on-one business coaching.  Voice coach, cooking instructor, tutor, etc. As long as you have access to a webcam and have the time to spare, the list of possibilities is truly endless!

On top of being a Google product (which can’t hurt when it comes to SEO), this is a new, nonintrusive and interesting way to develop a real connection with your clients (or customers).  From those connections, if managed properly, real relationships and brand loyalty are sure to follow.

At the end of the day, no matter which social platform you choose to focus on, consistency is the key.  Having a solid plan and sticking to it makes the difference between having a successful social media campaign and having what equates to a social media ghost town.  I believe that Google+ has all of the tools to assist business owners and marketers in developing a highly successful social media campaign while providing their users with a solid, well rounded experience.  Perhaps, even more so than Facebook.

Let me know your thoughts on Google+.  Have you been considering using it?  Are you already a user?  Do you have reservations?  Praises?  Complaints?  I’d be very interested to hear your experiences, ideas and concerns in the comments section below.