Small Business? You Need Google+ Right Now!

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Written By Rick Eliason Posted On February 17, 2014

Google+ for small businesses

In recent months I have been very active on Google+, truth be told it has kind of taken over my life. I get to work several minutes early most mornings and log in straight away, and sporadically check my profile throughout the day. I check it on my phone on the train home (3G permitting) and then I get home and open up my laptop and lose hours of an evening. Sad but true.

I wax lyrical about Google+ to everyone and everyone but for those that don’t “get” social media and its uses, it can be very difficult. I have had many a conversation with clients about the impact and future of Google+ and slowly seem to be getting them on board but it is a very repetitive process so I thought I would write this post once and for all ….thus freeing up some time for me to get back on Google+!

This post is first and foremost for the benefit of my SEO and digital marketing clients, but really it is for any small business who are willing to take a chance on Google+ to further their online presence and bottom line. Hence, I will focus on the direct BENEFITS to them rather than listing the many awesome FEATURES of Google+.

 

1. Google+ Posts Are Web Pages

Wait, what?

Unlike Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn posts, Google+ posts are indexed in the search results just like websites. More over, they can be linked to, SEO’d and acquire authority of their own just like your website. This means you can get more SERP real-estate for your own online properties and take away from your competitors!

In fact, in one study by SEO.com, they found that for a given keyword 27 of the top 100 results were Google+ posts!

Google plus posts showing in Google results

2. Google+ Could Impact Google Rankings

There is growing speculation in the online marketing industry that brands and individuals with a strong Google+ presence will likely rank over others with a weaker/no Google+ presence. For years Google has relied on incoming links as a measurement of authority in order to determine your site’s ranking over others. The problem is, links alone are a flawed metric as they are easy to manipulate – but social signals such as those from Google+ are much harder to game and more reliable as a ranking metric.

While there is no official word from Google, many thought leaders agree that this is the way forward for Google. We at Reload Digital are also seeing (very) early signs of a positive impact on organic search engine traffic.

Google+ impact: Rise in organic search engine traffic

This is an Analytics screenshot showing rise in organic search engine traffic to my personal website after integrating and using Google+. These are just my findings, this is by no means proof of Google+’s impact. (Note: February is only showing half a month’s worth of traffic so graph is predicted to continue rising sharply).

3. Find NEW customers & Brand Advocates

There’s no denying that Facebook & Twitter can be great customer service and retention tools if done right. However, it is very difficult to find new customers through these platforms alone without paying for Ads (typically, your Facebook and Twitter fans will already know you or have found you via your website).

Google+ is different. First of all it has an inbuilt search functionality that actually works (you hear that Facebook?). From it you can find individuals & pages, posts, events, hangouts and crucially, communities.

Community participation is a very powerful tool for finding a relevant and engaged audience – the kind of people that will be interested in your product or service. If approached in the right format (showcasing industry expertise and helping, not self-hype), these communities are key to new followers, and new customers.

google-plus-community

4. Google+ Is Growing Ridiculously Fast!

There is a common sentiment at the moment that Google+ is a ghost town and that your customers aren’t there. While this may be true to a certain extent for some slower, less-techy industries, the fact is Google+ is growing tremendously fast and if your industry seems quiet right now, all the more reason to practice, learn from mistakes and grow ready for when they do finally join. If that’s not enough, check out these:

  • There are 1Billion Google accounts (inc. YouTube), of which 540million are active users, of which 300million are active on the Google+ platform. [source]
  • 800,000 users join Google+ a month [source]
  • 70% of business brands have a presence on Google+ [source]

Pretty staggering right? What blows my mind is that Google+ has already overtaken Twitter and is catching up to Facebook rapidly.

#ProTip: If you are in an industry that has been slow to adopt Google+ you are in the best position of all! Google has a “Recommended User” list for each industry and while the big guns fight it out for a coveted place in these lists in competitive industries, you will have a much better chance. The recommended user list gets presented to all new sign-ups based on their selected interests which usually means lots of free followers! However, this in no walk in the park – you must build a solid following and consistently post lots of engaging content to be deemed worthy of this list!

5. Google+ Is Important To Google Adwords/PPC Too!

If PPC advertising is part of your marketing mix, integration of Google+ has its benefits. With traditional text ads you can include “social proof” in the form of +1 extensions (see below).

Google+: social proof in google ads

To the customer, these endorsements by other customers help build trust in the brand and can boost click-through rate to the tune of 5-10%.

Additionally, while Google has no immediate plans to ruin the platform with native ads everywhere, it has announced Plus Post Ads (currently in beta testing) which operate in the same arena as normal Google display (banner) ads – i.e. across their network of participating websites.

These interactive ads promise a higher level engagement than traditional ads. The downside? To be able to use these ads you need a minimum of 1000 followers on Google+ (another reason to get on board now!)

6. Hangouts Are Just…Awesome!

Google Hangouts are another feature that puts Google+ way out in front. They are public or private multi-user videoconferencing that helps you connect with your audience and customers in way never before possible. Additionally, public hangouts can be recorded and posted to your YouTube channel if you wish!

Launching a new product? Why not do a live interactive broadcast showcasing the product and inviting questions? Big company news? Instead of a press release, why not ‘hangout’ with selected journalists to cover the story? Need to hold a company meeting? Why not hold a video conference for convenience? The uses are only limited by imagination – here are some great other ideas for hangouts.

7. Become Recognised Experts in Your Field

Website/blog content tied to a verified Google+ profile can produce “rich snippets” in the search results that helps highlight the author as an expert. Not only does this verified author exhibit trustworthiness, the eye-catching profile photo can lead to a much better click-through rate and extra traffic to your site.

authorship

So there you have it. Seven convincing reasons why businesses should be on Google Plus. Here is a quick recap…

Key Takeaways

  • Dominate the search results with frequent and engaging Google+ posts.
  • Get established early on Google+ to reap rewards later
  • Use Google+’s unique features to find NEW customers as well as maintaining existing relationships
  • Google+ is a no-brainer if you advertise on Google
  • Use hangouts to get closer than ever before to your audience and customers
  • Showcase expertise and trustworthiness in your field
  • Google+ works great on mobile. If your site isn’t set up for mobile yet, your Google+ presence is all the more important!
  • Don’t abandon other social channels in favour of Google+ if they are still working for you. Just squeeze G+ into your marketing mix
  • Google+ is Google. Let that sink in.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “tipping” the author with a +1, Tweet or Like! – Thanks.

googleplus

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About Rick Eliason

With a strong in-house SEO/e-commerce background prior to Reload, Rick is a firm believer in content/inbound marketing and is currently fascinated with the developments around Google+. Find Rick Eliason on Google +.
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