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What’s the Plus of Google+?

Kelly Kautz

Google+: the next big thing in social media, or a failure destined to go the way of Google Buzz?

The answer depends on who you ask. While Google+ has drawn its share of critics, the platform has stuck around. And a growing number of business and marketing pundits are voicing enthusiasm for it. One Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Guy Kawasaki, calls Google+ a “game changer.”

Not Just Another Social Network

The debate over Google+’s value stems from its early positioning as a Facebook competitor. Sources within Google said the project was internally known as “Googbook.” The media reinforced this comparison, calling Google+ a “Facebook wannabe” and “clone”:

Google + The Guardian

But Google+ currently pales in comparison to Facebook’s active users. So why should marketing managers give Google+ a second thought? Because while Google+ may not be the top social network, it’s a growing force in search engine optimization.

Google+ and Your Search Rankings

Content posted on Google+ gets indexed by search engines much more than other social media profiles (2,621 indexed words, compared to Facebook’s 275). That means your Google+ posts have a greater likelihood of appearing in search results than the same posts made to other social media sites.

Google+ also creates a greater opportunity for internal linking, which can elevate your content on the search page. And if that content is linked to a Google+ member, it will contain an author photo and byline. This gives the result more prominence, increasing the likelihood of clicks.

Which is More Important: Clicks, or Conversation?

Most businesses can benefit from additional search traffic. Reaping the SEO benefits of Google+ takes planning. But if you already have a social media campaign, you’re halfway done. You can post similar status updates to Google+, focusing on links to your own content.

Your posts may only generate a fraction of the discussion and shares that they do on Facebook and Twitter. If audience engagement is your top priority, therefore, you’re better focusing your efforts on more popular social media sites.

This is often the case for B2C brands that generate lots of consumer discussion. If you’re a B2B brand that relies on search traffic to drive leads, Google+ may be a good solution. While it shouldn’t be the only tool in your SEO strategy, it can help you boost traffic to your content without setting expectations of community engagement.

The Future of Google+

As with any marketing tactic, this could change. Google+ is still new, and only time will tell how it evolves. While it’s not ideal for all businesses and marketing teams, it does pose a growing opportunity for improved SEO and the increased leads that can result.

Have you incorporated Google+ into your marketing strategy? If so, were you happy with the results?

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7 Comments

  1. Ken Mueller
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I think you nailed it. I post my posts to a lot of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+. It takes a second to do this, and the mix gives me a nice shot at clicks, shares, and the SEO benefits. I want all of the above. But other than that, I don’t do much more on G+. So far, I haven’t seen much more there for me to keep me on the platform.

  2. Kris Bradley
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Great points about some of the benefits of using Google+ and I agree that if engagement is your priority, this platform is not your best option (yet).

    With that said, I personally look at Google+ as much more than an SEO boost and lead generation social site. I think Google+ has some features that blow Facebook away and I am not concerned with the numbers of Facebook users vs Google+ users when I use these features.

    The Google Hangouts are an awesome way to collaborate with colleagues and clients. They are also great to just catch up with distant friends and family.

    The recent addition of Google+ Communities is a game changer (at least I think). I can see these communities as a new and more modern alternative to forum sites centered around a certain niche. I can also see them as a better alternative to LinkedIn groups, if the Google+ community can gain a healthy amount of members. I get tired of seeing the LinkedIn groups being saturated with sales pitches and topics around somebody’s own agenda and not for the benefit the group.

    Another thing to consider when measuring the staying power of Google+ is that the company that owns the platform has very deep pockets. I don’t see them getting weaker, just stronger. It’s a sad reality in America, but it’s not always the best business idea that wins, it’s the one with the most money. Although I do think Google+ has staying power without it’s financial backing.

  3. Lou
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I think that most business don’t really know what Google+ is so they jump on the bandwagon to participate. Given the number of icons that I see on pages recently for all forms of social media, Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think some folks feel like they might just miss out on yet another audience, while other will feel like “what ANOTHER site to POST To… !”

    This article brings to light one area that I had not thought of. SEO.
    I’ve added it to my site a while back but mostly because I tend to use everything Google. :-) Not much interaction, but then again I’m not a Fortune 500 Company…

    Thanks!

  4. Kelly Kautz Kelly Kautz
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Ken. Just with this posting schedule alone, you’re one of my most active contacts on Google+!

  5. Kelly Kautz Kelly Kautz
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Kris. I agree with you about Google’s deep pockets. It will be interesting to see how it evolves over time.

    I know I’ve been talking with coworkers about the possibility of using Google Hangouts for meetings, so that has some interesting potential.

  6. Kelly Kautz Kelly Kautz
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Lou. Keeping a single social media platform up-to-date can take an incredible amount of time and planning, so I understand how difficult it can be for small businesses to dive into yet another platform. Sometimes it’s better to simply not join, than to join and then abandon the page. Like all marketing methods, Google+ takes a careful weighing of pros, cons and available resources.

  7. Lou
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Kelly- I have used Google hang out for “web” meetings. The screen sharing is weak but better than nothing and the price was right.

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