For months now, marketers have been debating the benefits of Google+. With other options for social engagement, why should you make Google+ a priority?
There are essentially three main parts to Google+ for businesses:
The three main elements of Google+ each have their own benefits.
1. Influence personalized search results. When Google launched Google Search Plus Your World (GSPYW) in January, the influence of Google+ grew exponentially. By default, searches in Google now show social network results with every search when searchers are logged into their Google accounts.
But in addition to social profiles ranking well in Google results, Google+ status updates also become ranked immediately in Google search results and appear to those in the poster’s circle allowed to see the status update. In performing a quick test this past weekend, a post I made on Google+ was ranked in Google Search in less than the seven seconds it took for me to go to Google and search for the associated keyword.
But public status updates don’t just appear to a business’ followers. In some cases, Google will suggest other content that contains the given keyword, suggesting the searcher may also want to follow the poster’s status. This gives businesses using Google+ for status updates a huge advantage to influence organic search results for target keywords.
2. Improve visibility for ranked content. For content that is already ranking in Google search results, marketers can improve content visibility in two main ways: rel=author and +1s.
If blog or other authored content is ranking in Google, marketers can improve the visibility of these search results by adding rel=author markup. Rel=author displays the author’s image and name along with the search result, expanding the size of the result. One way to easily set up rel=author for a blog is to have each author for the blog create a Google+ personal profile and link to the blog content as a contributor.
Additionally, +1s also improve visibility of a search result by expanding its size by adding social sharing information to the result content. +1s, whether within a searchers’ social circles or not, will appear for content when applicable.
3. Share content via additional channels. Just as Facebook as a social network provides an additional channel to distribute content, Google+ provides yet another channel for content distribution.
4. Command branded search results. From an online reputation management perspective, it’s always important to keep an eye on how your company’s brand is ranking and what other sites are ranking against that brand in search results. Google+ affords another opportunity to create a branded instance above the fold for a business. Between sitelinks and Google+, it’s possible for a business to command the organic results showing “above the fold.” For example, a search for ABC News displays ABC’s official site, along with sitelinks, on the left, and Google+ results on the left, enabling ABC to dominate the top area of the page with its own branded content.
5. Protect your brand in Google Suggest. When a business has a Google+ page and a Google+ badge on its website, Google “Direct Connect” can be enabled. What exactly is Direct Connect? Launched in November 2011, Direct Connect serves as a way for searchers to immediately connect to a business’ Google+ page by simply typing a “+” in front of the business’ name in the Google search box.
From the online reputation management perspective, Direct Connect is a real win. Direct Connect, when enabled, currently removes one to three suggested keywords from the Google Suggest box, depending on how many businesses show for Direct Connect. In a reputation crisis, businesses want to minimize the number of potentially negative terms that appear in the Google Suggest box (combinations such as “brand” followed by words like “sucks” or “scam”, etc.). Direct Connect can help minimize the other terms showing in the Google Suggest box, positive or negative.
(Note: Google hasn’t enabled Direct Connect for all businesses yet, but even businesses that formerly had Direct Connect enabled seem to be missing this functionality.)
None of these takes too long to implement, so why not do it?