Google+ recently celebrated its three year anniversary, and with it brought the appreciation of many marketers and social network users who thought Google+ would go the way of Google Buzz or Orkut, two of Google’s other former social offerings.
However, Google+ has utilized a clean, modern interface and many unique features (such as photo storage/editing and integration with other Google apps) to make it a useful social network that is getting used by more and more people. Because of this, there are several reasons why B2B marketers should be using Google+, both on a personal branding level and as an organization.
It’s a Good Cross Between Facebook and LinkedIn
Google+ isn’t as casual as Facebook because many of the users on it are using it for business or school (or because they feel like they should be on there). However, it’s not as professionally-slanted as LinkedIn.
Because of this, it is a good combination of both the fun and personalization of Facebook (like cover photos, easy content and photo sharing, and recommended friends) and the business focus on LinkedIn (great source of news, easy to network with contacts you’ve emailed with before if you have a google mail account).
On a business side, this offers brands the opportunity to be more creative with their pages, as well as taking advantage of a layout that allows them to share their own content and information.
Authorship For Employees Has Far-Reaching Benefits
All employees, no matter what industry, should take any opportunities that come their way when it comes to personal branding. This not only builds their own reputation in your industry, it also helps your company have many more outlets in which they are present.
Employees should create their own Google+ profile and be sure to fill out any of the outlets they write for, including your own blog, in the contributor section. This is another way to help establish authorship:
On your website, make sure you have Google Authorship set up (using the rel=author tag in author bylines).
This directly influences the search result pages for your content on your own blog or externally. When authorship is set up properly, you will eventually see the author’s byline under a search result. This can lead visitors to not only click on a link because it stands out, but it also can lead a reader to more content by your employee or company.
In addition to showing a byline, when users are signed into their Google+ account while searching, it also shows them Google+ results from their network, as shown in my example below:
It is important to note that Google recently announced the photos showing in authorship results (as shown above) will all be removed gradually, leaving only the author byline in hyperlinked grey text. While some are doubtful that this won’t affect the click thru rate of authored posted in search results as Google asserts, that doesn’t mean authorship is any less important. The team at iAcquire recently wrote a blog post discussing the issues and potential benefits regardless.
The Integration of Google Maps/Places/+ Pages
Another major perk of Google+ for B2B organizations is the integration of Google Maps, Places, and business profile pages. You can now connect your Google Maps Listing with your Google+ page and Google combined its local listings (called Places) with Google+ in 2012. It also released an update that year that allows Brand pages to become Google+ Local pages.
While this is admittedly all a little confusing, the main point to remember is that Google has made Google+ the epicenter of local listings and search for business pages. Stay on top of your local listings by claiming ownership of automatically created listings and filling out as much information about your business as possible (such as services and photos). This will also tie in reviews of your business from Google+ and other review sites, like Yelp.
It Could Have SEO Influence
With this integration and Google Authorship having such a major presence in search results, it only stands to reason that Google+ could have an SEO influence on your company’s traffic. One could argue that is already does, as Google+ listings are shown in results when users are signed in or articles have authorship, but actual proof as to whether organizations that have a Google+ page are getting better SERP positioning is thin.
Here’s some great case studies on the effect of Authorship and Google+ usage on SEO:
- Google Plus Search and Google Authorship Case Study
- Social Signals and SEO: Results From 5 Case Studies
- Getting Authorship to Work: A Moz.com Case Study
More and More People Are Using it
Yes, Google+ doesn’t have as many users as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, but it does have more than Pinterest and Slideshare, two fast-growing visually-based social networks. It also continues to grow steadily. This only further proves the fact that Google+ is an established and active social network that will only create more opportunities for B2B marketers and their organizations down the road.
All screenshots taken July 2014.