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?