Many marketing folks have started throwing Google+ by the wayside as they create online marketing strategies in favor of greener pastures over at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Vine.
This is partly because Google+ simply does not have as many users as the other huge social platforms out there. There have also been well-documented concerns going back years about strength of click-through and visitor referrals from Google+.
However, while G+ may not command an impressive piece of the social media community overall, it does include elements that provide companies measurable value, especially in increasing organic traffic.
“Google is making changes to its algorithms and how it ranks web pages with the goal of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior toward a more strategic approach,” says Scott Langdon, Partner at HigherVisibility.com. What does he mean by that? By the very fact G+ exists, certain search scenarios exist that can help a business. Here are some of the best around.
1.) Personalized search
One of the unique ways that Google+ helps companies with their organic ranking is through personalized search. Put simply, personalized search occurs whenever someone logs onto their Google account and sees targeted results catered to them, compared to what people would see if they were not signed in. Google recognizes user preference and modifies search outcomes accordingly.
Research done by Eric Enge in 2013 showed that specific website outcomes, such as increased awareness and reach, can be greater for people who follow a business or individual on G+. This is because Google acknowledges a user’s preference for that business or author and wants to display those entities more whenever a query is typed in. To take advantage of opportunities likes this, make sure you claim a G+ page for your business.
2.) Google+ Local
Google+ Local is Google’s social integration of companies into its social news platform. It is beneficial to set up a G+ local profile page in order to get added publicity on a search engine results page (SERP). Whenever a person types in the title of the company or the services that the company provides, it can trigger a knowledge graph that pulls information from the Google+ local page and adds it to the search results.
Search results from a Google local page include product/service search results and brand search results. Let’s look at each one:
Product/Service Search Results
Whenever people type in the name of a service that is geographically important to them, Google will implement knowledge graph listings below search ads on the results page. If you hover over a specific business, it will trigger an extra knowledge graph that overlays in the right side of the search results page.
Brand Search Results
Whenever a person types in a specific brand it can trigger another knowledge graph. The information that is displayed in a brand name knowledge graph is much more detailed than a service/product knowledge graph.
With brand name knowledge graphs, the user will be able to see a Google+ profile image of the business, or, if Google already has an image of the business in its database, it’ll show a map of where the company is, reviews from users, and company details like address and a phone number. All of this is taken from information on the Google+ business page.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Google actively has its search bots crawl through each post in Google+. This allows for content that has been published on G+ to be found more quickly. In the same 2013 research by Eric Enge, he mentions how he has seen his content being indexed faster by Google whenever he posts it on G+.
4.) Ranking your social media posts
Along with bots crawling each post on Google+, the posts are also indexed and ranked into Google search pages. Indexing and ranking helps extend the value of your posts. Of course, Google has ranked other social networking pages in the past, but they are primarily community and profile pages, not actual posts. Also, there isn’t any character-length limitation on G+ — unlike Twitter — which makes it easier to repost current website content.
5.) Viral content
Gabe Shaoolian, CEO of Blue Fountain Media says, “Google+ may not be the biggest social media platform, but this network has some of the best user engagement on the web.” In other words, for the right audience, it can be a great place to make your content go viral.
This is especially true for web engineers and content writers that use G+ communities to enhance their work and to network with experts in similar fields.
Using Google’s advanced capabilities to share posts with targeted audiences could be your best shot at using social media to market content to contributors, bloggers, and website engineers.
6.) Google+ Hangouts
Online videos have become extremely valuable to SEO. With Google+ Hangouts, recording and uploading online video clips is simple and free.
Google+ Hangouts is a live movie streaming and recording service from Google where you and a number of other G+ users can get together. Although the videos themselves do not show up in Google’s search results, you can rank the post containing the video and then move your Hangout videos to YouTube to get them ranked that way.
In general, Hangouts also help get you connected with your clients and help you improve the content you post on your website.
7.) Keeping up with the SEO experts
The world of SEO is constantly changing and it’s crucial to keep up-to-date on the latest news, tools, and trends. Although G+ may not have as many users as other social networks, it does have one of the most active communities on the internet for SEO specialists.
Social communities like Technical SEO has SEO webmasters actively assisting each other with optimization problems. Google’s very own John Mueller is in charge of webmaster relations at Google and does regular G+ Hangouts to respond to webmaster concerns. Using these resources on G+ will help you stay on top of your game.
8.) Rich snippets
One of the most famous ways G+ is impacting search results is through Authorship and Publisher rich snippet markup. By entering in a simple code on your website and linking to a website on your Google+ page, website engineers and writers have the ability to incorporate Google+ information into the search engine’s results pages. Such information can include the author name, Google+ follower count, and profile photo associated with each post. Having these items connected with your Google+ page gives you stronger authorship and publisher rankings.
9.) Author Rank
Going hand in hand with rich snippets is “Author Rank.” This last year, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s research spam group, spoke about Google’s intention to recognize authorities on specific subjects. G+ will not be the only social network used in determining social popularity, but it is likely that it will be tied into the algorithms that Google uses to determine author rank.
The worlds of social media and SEO have never been more integrated. Since Google+ was launched in 2011, the network’s integration into search engine optimization results has long since pulled ahead of other social media platforms.
Bottom line: it’s crucial to think about this network when forming your online marketing strategies as Google goes on to discover more ways to integrate its products together.
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant living in San Francisco. His writing has appeared in NBC, The Village Voice, FastCompany and USAToday.