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Why We Should Be Using Google+
When we mention to clients that we’d like to utilise G+ in their arsenal of social media channels we’re often met with blank expressions from business owners with great big Facebook icons in their eyes. Yes, yes G+ blah, blah but what about Twitter? As it goes Facebook and Twitter are top of the list naturally. Next is YouTube or Pinterest if they’ve anything particularly pretty to showcase. Possibly LinkedIn although the usefulness of this as a business channel is dubious (if you’ve seen any shining examples give us a shout).
But G+? Do we have to use that?
Yes the landscape is currently rather barren, using hashtags just feels a little wrong (perhaps more so than Facebook which have only just hashtagged up) and those circle thingies don’t quite seem to make sense over the beautifully clear-cut followers and likes of the true pillars of social media; Facebook and Twitter. To give you an idea even our Fluid G+ (north of the 5,000 follower milestone on Twitter) has around 50 people in our circles. From a quick skim a good portion of these also seem to be businesses as opposed to consumers, depending on the nature of your business this may be a good or bad thing.
But alas. Alas we would recommend G+ to businesses, if anything to be on the safe side and get our stake in ‘early’. That sounds rather slapdash so let me elaborate. Google + is currently the second fastest growing social media channel with Facebook taking the top spot. This might all sound very impressive but out of the 500 million users claimed by Google in December, only 135 million are actively posting. Not as much the roaring takeover implied but still a rather healthy community. Yes it may be fresher faced and a bit of a clunky collage of the best of Twitter and the best of Facebook, but the benefits go far beyond social engagement and establishing your brand.
Content is indexed quicker
The sceptics would say that Google is forcing us to use G+. And they would be right.
G+ content is designed to dominate the search engines over its more widely used counterparts both in terms of content and personal accounts. So much so, that users will tend to find their fledgling G+ account will muscle into the top rankings over their much loved and well established Facebook and Twitter profiles. Of course this isn’t a hard and fast rule, Google engineer Matt Cutts ranks at no.5 for his G+ account and no.3 for his Twitter account, but, put simply, if you want to be taking the top spots, G+ should be part of your social media and content strategy.
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance”.
– Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO
This brings us very nicely to authorship and, as explained so blatantly by Schmidt, if Google ‘trusts’ you then you’ll be deemed worthy of a higher ranking. Google plus authorship is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of the platform and in the everlasting quest to banish spam, technically, quality content that gets widely shared will prevail.
From a business perspective authorship can be used to segregate the industry experts from the so-so masses. For example if you run a digital agency then posting great content about your industry can help position you as the most ‘authoritative’ result over time. Setting up Google authorship is simple and once you have a professional G+ profile (detailed information about your job role and a recognisable picture) you then simply verify your email address.
Equally you can link directly from your main Google Plus page by clicking “Profile”- “About” –“Links” –“Edit link”. Add the link of your main content home to the “Contribute to” section. You can add a range of URLs here which allows you to attribute your guest blogs. You will then need to add a link to your G+ page within your content and also link your name to your G+ profile to identify yourself. To do this simply add ?rel=author to the end of your G+ URL (ideally in the author biography or as the header to your content).
As we know Facebook and Twitter takes no prisoners and anything you push out on these platforms is pretty much set in stone unless you want to delete it entirely. G+ however takes a refreshing ‘everybody makes mistakes’ stance and allows endless editing, tweaking and general amendments to your posts – it’s incredibly user friendly.
Easily optimised for SEO
A killer title might make for content people want to click on and consequently share, but just like optimising titles, snippets and meta descriptions on blogs, G+ posts can also be modified to help you rank. The first sentence of your G+ post essentially becomes part of your title tag, so dotting it with well chosen keywords gets you well on your way to ranking highly for that term. Combine this with content which is widely shared and suddenly you’re top of the search results.
G+ might not be the axis of your social media campaign but it’s a damn good palate cleanser after you’ve gorged on a meaty Twitter and Facebook campaign. For social engagement no one’s doubting that it’s all a little quiet. Well a few are doubting. But if you can accept that your circles might not fill as quickly as your Twitter count and persevere, you might just find G+ does more for your visibility than those ‘proper’ social media channels.