Call it sucking up to big G or moving with the times, but the Google+ boat is one you shouldn’t be missing!
You may be aware of pros (growing user base) and cons (deriding their usage) from SEO experts but the overall trajectory is steady upward growth.
On the one-year anniversary of Google +, the company reported:
- 250 million accounts have upgraded to or signed up for a Google+ account
- 150 million accounts are active every month
- 50% of its users sign in every day
- On average, 12 minutes a day are spent in the Google+ stream
The Google+ personalized search results are just one example. If you have a Google+ account, your searches on Google will also show you Google+ photos and posts — both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page.
Here are some key SEO and marketing advantages that Google+ can offer to Brand pages:
The Power of +1’s: Based on the level of activity your brand’s page generates on Google+, the search engine can gauge your brand’s popularity and rank your page higher (depending on how much information about your brand gets shared or talked about).
Google’s updated algorithm factors in the number of g+1’s your website has received when ranking it in search results.
When someone recommends content online using +1, this thumbs up not only increases the link’s visibility on Google+, but also directly impacts how Google assesses the popularity and the relevance of the website’s content when featuring it in search results.
Larger networks on Google+: As long as your Google+ brand profile is visible to the public, anybody can add your page to their Google Circles or follow it. These circles are groups of users that you target with specific information that only they can see.
This means that whenever a user +1’s your page, the recommendation becomes visible to all the circles he chooses to share the information with, whether they are his acquaintances, friends, business colleagues, or just followers.
For example, if you share H&M’s Google+ page or start following their Google+ page, people in your circles will see the update on their Google+ pages. In addition, when they enter a search term in Google associated with H&M they will see that you gave a +1 to H&M’s home page.
User Segmentation: Google+ Circles are excellent tools for customer segmentation. For example, you could create circles for customers, potential customers, new business contacts, VIPs, team members — you get the idea.
Let’s say you want to offer a special discount to your long-term customers. You could create a post with the exclusive offer and share it with users in your VIP circle. Or, you could share that discount post with your followers as an inducement to converting them to customers.
The Hangout Advantage: The Google+ Hangouts feature has great potential and is simple to use, though usage is still in the growth stage. Google+ allows businesses to hold video-conferences with up to nine locations at a time. This video chat can include:
- Sharing documents
- Watching YouTube videos
- Screen sharing
In addition, you can record and broadcast the chat. While big brands like Cadbury have used hangouts to expand their fan base significantly, a lot of smaller businesses are still unaware of how to use the tool for their benefit. The following are some suggestions that could help:
Take a leaf out of the big boys’ handbooks: Cadbury used a Google+ hangout to conduct a branding exercise by interacting in real time with Olympic athletes and chocolate experts.
Smaller businesses, too, can plan events (with lower budgets, of course) to promote new products/services by holding hangout sessions with local celebrities, well-known community figures, contest winners, etc.
Launch new products with a bang and a small budget: You don’t need to book a 5-star hotel and hire an event management company for a product launch if you don’t have the budget. Instead, you can plan a small fun event in your office and invite your key stakeholders to a Google+ hangout for the product launch.
Hold Product Demos: Holding a live product demo complete with audience interaction can help you generate a buzz around your product.
You can always record the demo video and broadcast it after the hangout session is over.
Google+ is definitely here to stay and it obviously offers some excellent brand building opportunities. But, that doesn’t mean that it should become the sole focus of your online marketing strategy.
Classic SEO techniques such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube marketing are still as relevant as ever, if not more so. Based on the growing popularity of Google+, however, it would be a smart move to add Google+ to your list of essential branding and marketing tools.
Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a top rated Vancouver SEO company that provides services to businesses across North America.
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