Social networking is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for business advertisement, because it is one of the most effective. Some businesses are eager to jump on every new network available. However, it can become a logistical nightmare to manage several social accounts; keeping them up-to-date, relevant, and effective.
Therefore, many are not eager at all to join yet another social network. So, is Google+ Pages worth your time?
Google+ Pages SEO Benefits
Anyone who has ever tried to SEO a website knows how much businesses need Google. That simple fact tops the list of reasons why businesses need a Google+ Page. It’s not just another social network – it’s social networking done Google style.
There has been no official information indicating that Google+ Pages will increase page rank, however that is the speculation of industry analysts. It is expected that the popularity of a business’s page will be factored into the page rank of the linked website – the more +1s the page have, the higher it will rank.
According to Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, Google+ is already helping search engine rankings. Anyone who performs a Google search while signed into Google+ will see content from their friends rank higher in the search results. Sullivan’s independent tests have shown that this applies to businesses as well. Your website will come up higher on the searches of anyone in your Google circles.
Sullivan also says that in his test searches, Google provided enhanced content results for businesses he is connected to via Google+. Additionally they have made it easy for searchers looking for Google+ Pages. The + operator in a search term now searches for Google+ pages. The previous required content functionality was disabled some time ago.
Social Media Marketing
While the number one benefit to businesses using Google+ Pages seems to be the increase of search visibility, there remains the fact that it’s yet another social network. There has been much speculation about this network’s ability to compete with the social media giant Facebook.
According to social media expert Jeff Bullas, only 13% of US internet users use Google+. This number may be small in comparison to Facebook’s estimated 71.2%, however 13% of internet users is 13% of potential traffic to your website or blog – and the number continues to grow.
Google+ Pages Features
If you are experienced in social media marketing, many of the features in Google+ will seem familiar. The +1 button is very similar to Facebook’s like button, and posts on your page appear in a format much like Facebook’s wall. It allows commenting, link-sharing, and posting of media.
Circles in Business Pages
Contacts on Google+ are organized into circles. In the individual user version, the idea was to mimic real-world social circles such as friends, family, and co-workers. People can restrict posts and profile information to specific circles.
For business Pages this allows for targeted marketing. You can arrange your connections, for example, according to ‘sales associates’, ‘established customers’, and ‘prospects’. Pages are not allowed to add individual people to circles without that person first adding the Page or at least mentioning it. Although this eliminates the follow-back strategy of gaining connections, it ensures that your connections are only people with a valid interest in your business.
One rather unique feature of Google+ is hangouts. This is a group video chat, originally intended for friends to virtually hangout together online. This is one of the most promising features for business use. When beginning a hangout, you can invite anyone from your circles. Participants can invite people from their circles. Other users who see on their update stream that a friend is hanging out can click to join the hangout.
Google+ hangouts can offer an easy way to host live product demonstrations, lectures, or announcements. While all of these could be done via a webcam video feed posted to your website it would lack interactivity. With hangouts you can see and hear the reaction to your presentation.
This can also be used for unofficial focus groups, with a company representative chatting with product users about current offerings or new ideas. The best insights and often the best ideas come from actual users. Another way to take advantage of this feature is by inviting eager customers to hangout and discuss a new product launch, event or business opening. This helps build anticipation and interest.
So is it really worth it?
The bottom line is, as long as internet users continue flocking to new social networks, businesses need to do the same. The old adage ‘location, location, location’ still holds true in the virtual market. Businesses need to be wherever the customers are. In the current marketplace that is social networks – and no other network offers the SEO opportunities of Google+ Pages.