When Google launched its social media platform, + (Plus), in the summer of 2011, it was seven years behind Facebook, five years behind Twitter and eight years behind LinkedIn. It didn’t bring anything to the social media marketplace the other three didn’t have, but as Google is the largest search engine in the world, we had no choice but to pay attention. The granddaddy of all search engines owns about two-thirds of all search — more than all other search engines combined, according to searchengineland.com.
Turns out, Google+ has value for B2B, B2C and even C2C users for five good reasons.
+1s = Organic Links = Better Rankings
Unlike the other major social marketing sites, when a user shares content on his G+ account, it creates a two-way link between Google+ and the publisher’s site; search engines love to see that type of connection. Google engineer and spokesman Matt Cutts has denied the rumors that +1s by themselves boost search rankings, and reminded users, Moz reports, good content triumphs over strategized content.
Example: content marketing firm iAcquire NYC on G+ shared a link to its blog explaining how websites can set up email notifications for backlinks. The two-way link has the potential to boost iAcquire’s ranking for backlinks.
Google+ Circles, Communities and Hangouts
Circles are buckets in which users put the people and organizations they follow, similar to Twitter’s lists. For instance, a typical user might have circles for family, work, school, church, celebrities, news, etc. They can choose to have different circles visible on their G+ home pages when they are at work, at home, watching sports or whatever.
Users create and join private and public communities that allow people who share common interests to connect. Posts users make to their communities are visible to only the people who are in the communities. It’s an easy way to keep personal and professional posts separate. Users control whether they receive email notifications each time someone posts, daily summaries or no notifications at all.
Hangouts allow users to chat through instant messaging or by video. You can turn chats into face-to-face chats and invite several people to join at one time. The service works on mobile devices and desktops.
Authorship Boosts Credibility
You might have noticed more Google search results popping up with “rich snippets,” which include photos and bylines of content authors. These are the result of G+’s authorship, which are intended to recognize authentically authored content, rather than mill-generated content. Users who adapted Google+ authorship have reported increases in click-through rates (CTR) as high as 150 percent, technology news site Bit Rebels reports.
Google+ Reach Is Growing
EBizMBA.com estimates Google Plus receives 65 million unique monthly visits, putting it in sixth place behind Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and (believe it or not) Myspace. One year ago, it reported 28 million unique visitors, according to Mashable. Its reach is growing, which means more opportunity for your messages.
Google Author Rank Is Coming
Author rank is not a Google phrase, and there is no solid plan it’s happening. Google does not publicly rank authors based on subject matter, quality of posts and authorities of websites or any other metric. It’s included here because most industry watchers believe it’s coming. Matt Cutts has said he likes the idea, and it’s been talked about at Google, but the company has been tight-lipped on whether it’s a reality. Content marketing gurus from Moz and Search Engine Land say it’s inevitable, and content providers should prepare for it now (starting with those Google rich snippets.)
For more information about Google+, visit plus.google.com.