As announced on Google’s Official Blog, in December 2012 Google+has passed 500 million registered users, 235 million of which are active across other Google’s properties like YouTube, Google Search and Google’s app store. The updated Global Web Index from January 2013 shows this network as the 2nd largest in the world with 343 million active monthly users. These facts confirm the platform isn’t the failure or ghost town experts predicted, but a powerful media businesses you can’t ignore any longer.
These days it seems like everyone is talking about Google+. The search engine indexes everything you post on the profile, and what’s even greater for businesses is that Google now gives more weight to links shared on social media than to links from other websites. This alters the existing pillars of SEO. Not being on Google+ is like you are saying to Google “I don’t want my business to show up in your search rankings.”
Click here to see my tutorial on using Google+ for business, and if you want the basic Google+ 101 Guide check this presentation. While there, you can also learn how to optimize your profile for search.
Done with that? Now, let’s see how you can grow your business and expand your influence using Google+.
Create an Attractive Business Profile
The basic approach to promoting your business and expanding your visibility is creating a Google+ Business Page that stands out from others. Set up a page with a strong and simple tagline, provide all important information for readers to be able to get to know you better, and turn on your visibility to public. Customize your business page to make it more appealing so you will be able to connect with your readers on a more personal level.
With Google+’s new bigger cover photos you can better express the image of your brand and make a solid first impression. This large visual branding opportunity offers great advantages for companies. They can now upload their photos and impressive designs that showcase their newest products, share information about their business, their physical locations, or advertise their upcoming events, in a primary eye-catching position. If you have a good photographer or graphic designer on your side the possibilities are immense.
Get a Badge to Connect Your Business Website and Google+ Page
You should directly connect your business Google+ page with your official website. This way your readers can easily follow you without leaving your site. The link is made with the Google+ badge. Use the configuration tool to select the style that best fits your web design, and when active a Follow widget will show up in the search results together with yourmost recent status update and your timestampdata. To establish your business as a true source of quality and authoritative content for your particular industry in front of searchers who come across your Google+ page you should make sure your posts are always up-to-date.
Claim Your Google+ Authorship
Google+ Authorship can help you create greater authority for your content and improve the visibility of your business online. Through the WebmasterTools you also getaccess to valuable data about the posts and updates that got most attention from your readers, including those that weren’t published on your website.
You can claim your Authorship by connecting your Google+ profile to your originally created content; just make sure you have a byline on every page on your website, with same information as in your profile.Now when people look up your keywords your Google+ profile picture will appear alongside your posts, which makes it easy for searchers to identify your content by recognizing your image. Thisincreases your brand authority and helps you grow your business by expanding your influence online. There are even some hints on Google experimenting with ranking system based on author’s influence, so it’s better to prepare ahead. Google Authorship in 3 Easy Steps.
Use Hashtags in Your Posts
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the # symbol that people can search to find conversations on a particular topic.Using hashtags in your Google+ updates will bring your business additional exposure beyond your network of followers, since now they are displayed next to every update. You can easily select the most appropriate to your update topic from the list of suggested hashtags by Google+.
Host Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangouts give businesses a unique opportunity to communicate directly to their readers, current and future clients in a video format. You can only have up to 10 active participants, but if you want a greater audience you can live-stream the video on YouTube, or add it to your official channel to boost your content.You can use this featurefor absolutely anything, – to make interviews, have private meetings, panel discussions, for customer support, live screen-sharing webinars, etc.
Join or Create Your Own Community
There are many different communities already available on Google+, but you can also create your own using your profile or business page. Communities help expand your reach further. If you are worried about spam, you should relax because Google won’t allow anything go public without an approval from the page moderator. For greater control you can have your community set as private, but that would actually defeat the purpose of expanding your influence online.
Google+ for Local Businesses
With Google+ Local your business information, photos, reviews and additional information are displayed directly in the search results. For local businesses this is a great promotion opportunity. Customers can grade your business and leave reviews on your Google+ page, even if it isn’t active.And the social network will become even greater resource for local with the expansion of Google+ mobile apps for Android and iOS.
To claim your local business go to Create a Page and select Local Business and Places. When you enter your phone number Google+ will scan their network to see if there’s a business page to connect you to, or ask you to create a new one. Google+ is definitely the best source for managing your brand at local level. Guide to Google Local.
What about you? What do you think are Google+’ best features to help you grow your business?