Google+ has been the butt of many jokes. Consider this picture that explains social media with donuts:
And while it might seem like Google+ is a virtual ghost town. After all, how many people do YOU know that use Google+?
Probably more than you think.
During I/O 2013, Google’s annual developer conference, Google yesterday rolled out new changes to the Google+ platform, and in a blog about the updates, it was stated:
Consider: 190 million people are now active in the Google+ stream, and 390 million are active across Google (+1’ing apps in Google Play, making video calls in Gmail, sharing videos from YouTube...). It’s a community of artists and astronauts and computer scientists and quilters — and it’s awesome. But we’ve only just begun.
With 190 million active users, Google+ might be the most popular ghost town ever.
However, many local businesses don’t seem convinced of the power of Google+. After all …
More people use Facebook and Twitter, so why should I care about Google+?
Therein lies the dilemma: Facebook and Twitter are the undisputed kings of social media. If you have them, no other social network is necessary, right?
Stop thinking about Google+ as strictly a social network.
Google+ is more of a “social layer” that connects together all of Google’s various products and services, from YouTube, Gmail and Google Docs to AdWords and search.
As search is becoming more personalized, and more users are searching and surfing while logged into accounts (including Google), Google+ will only continue to grow in prominence. To see this in action, check out these results for “social media”:
The differences are highlighted. As a result of the user’s connections +1’ing (i.e. giving the website a “stamp of approval” of sorts) various websites, they now appear on the first page for the phrase “social media” while the user is logged in.
The +1 feature extends beyond just web sites. It extends to Google Play, YouTube and all of Google’s services. It’s becoming an integral part of successful SEO.
Search is now social.
Let’s take another look at the results for “social media”:
The icons on the left indicate those results that are appearing due to the user following those sites respective Google+ pages, and the G +1 button results are designated by the orange +1 button under the placement.
As consumers gravitate toward social networks, search will continue to become more personalized and social. You shouldn’t be thinking, “Does my business need to be social?” but rather, “What can my business do to be more social?”
In an article for Search Engine Watch, Jason Cormier beautifully stated:
The most significant reason to get your business on Google+ is simple: The quality and corresponding engagement around your search engine visibility stands to either noticeably improve or gradually decline.
Local results revolve around Google+, not Places.
Your business might already be on Google+ and you might not even be aware. Remember Google Places? These were the “maps results,” as they were commonly called, but notice anything different:
Last May, Google rebranded Places as Google+ Local, to integrate the system directly into the Google+ stream. It’s not enough just to have this listing, however; you should also have a Google+ Page.
I thought if my business was on Google Places, it was already on Google+?
There is a significant difference between Google+ Pages and Google+ Local. As Google explains, there are key differences between the two:
- Google+ Local is simply an upgrade of Google Places. You can add information and photos, and a link to your website. Consumers can also review your business.
- Google+ Pages allows you to add information, photos, videos and posts.
- Merging the two gives you all the features listed above.
Why is this push for local so important? Consider these statistics:
- 20% of all searches have a local intent
- 40% of mobile searches have a local intent
- 97 % of consumers search online for local businesses
Which is best for my business?
There’s no one size fits all option. For now, the ability to merge Google+ Local with a Google+ Page is only available to those with local, “storefront”-based businesses (i.e. businesses that serve consumers at a fixed location). If you want to create a Google+ page for your business, you have five options:
- Local Business or Place: These are for local operated businesses, i.e. antique shops, mom and pop pizza parlors, etc. Your business must have a physical address (not a PO Box) and this address will show. If you want your address to be hidden, then this option will not work for you.
- Product or Brand: This category is for companies like Nike, Chevrolet, etc.
- Company, Institution or Organization: For companies, organizations, institutions, non-profits, etc. Perfect for those businesses that have more than one location.
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports: For pages dedicated to celebrities, bands, sports teams, books, television shows, etc.
- Other: For those that don’t fit into any category.
You’ll most likely select “Local Business or Place” or “Company, Institution or Organization.” Be careful with which one you choose, as you won’t be able to easily change the category.
- Google+ Local/Pages and +1’s show up in personalized results.
- Google+ Local/Pages are essential to show up in local search results.
- Google+ has helped to blur the line between “social” and “search.”
- Google+ isn’t a “ghost town.”
- Google+ will continue to become more essential to ensure your business’ success on the Internet.
Need help setting up a Google+ page? Let the WebDrafter.com online marketing team help you out. Give us a call today at 1-866-421-3723.