Google+ (G+), once the underdog of international social networks, has achieved steady growth throughout 2012 and recently surpassed the likes of Twitter and YouTube in terms of activity. Far from being a ghost town, G+ is fast becoming one of the most important networks of its kind.
As such, businesses and brands of all shapes and sizes have been keen to get their foot in the door and utilise the plethora of marketing opportunities it offers. We're massive fans of G+ here at RDPR and in this guide, we'll tell you how to sign your business up for this burgeoning network and get the most out of the platform.
Besides the obvious benefits of having a presence on a popular social network, G+ has really gone the extra mile to attract commercial users. It offers a range of features that other channels have been somewhat lacklustre in introducing and combines them seamlessly. The network's integration in Google's suite of products is one of its defining features and its pages show up in search results for 30 per cent of brand term searches (for brands that have a G+ page).
In its never-ending quest for relevancy, Google has also started giving more weight to user recommendations in search results and this trend is only set to continue. The +1 button is pushed more than two billion times a day and adding its functionality to your site can drastically increase the amount of visitors referred your way via G+.
Beyond the technical elements, the platform is a joy to use - intuitive, accessible and ergonomic. Incorporating rich media into posts and profiles is a doddle and connecting with desirable communities and individuals (or groups via circles) is incredibly easy.
Many users are already sharing their top picks for interest-oriented circles and then there's collaborative resources like this, which offer pre-made groups, organised by topic.
Authorship: (Update: Authorship has been discontinued as of June 2014, but there's still several good reasons to set this facility up. Read more here).
If your staff produce internal or guest blogs, it's also worth looking into authorship. A full exploration of this feature would take up an entire blog post in itself, but in brief, it was launched in 2011 and allows you to link your G+ profile to your content across the web. If you've seen people's thumbnail photos popping up next to articles on search results pages - this is authorship in action.
Setting up your profile is fairly simple and Google has a range of resources on offer if you'd like to learn more.
- Why local?
As mentioned, Google is on a crusade to enhance the search experience for users and part of this entails providing personalised results. In 2012, the company began rolling out localised search results - providing both brands and local businesses the ability to reach out to prospective customers in their area by verifying themselves.
Google has already rolled out phone support on this front, although this is currently only available for companies in the US. However, it's highly indicative of the commitment it has placed on the inclusion of G+ within its repertoire of products.
- A Step By Step Set-up Guide
- To start things off, you'll need a Google Account. While you can create a page from any account, it might be best to create a generic one for your business.
- Once you've logged on to Google+, you can find the option to create a page by clicking the 'pages' button (pictured below).
- Select the option to create a new page and then choose 'Local Business or Place' from the various available categories.
- You'll then be prompted to enter your company's phone number (this can be used to ascertain its location).
- If you're unable to confirm your location using the number provided, simply click the 'Add your business to Google' link.
- Once you've completed this step, you can start to edit your company's basic information, and select categories, which should help define what your business does.
- You can then select which age group your content is appropriate for and move on to create the page.
- You can now log on and add further information about your business, including stuff like opening times, further contact details and your website URL.
Google now provides you with the ability to verify your business page as authentic, which can help consolidate your company's presence throughout Google's suite of products (this includes, mobile, maps and search).
As well as standing as a kind of trust mark, becoming fully verified also enables you to take further control of the page - granting the means to add more details, respond to reviews and qualify for a custom URL. There is also some debate as to whether a G+ presence provides benefits in terms of SEO. However, it's generally agreed that a strong social presence will be a beneficial asset to have in both general and search terms going forward.
To verify your company, simply hover over the 'unverified' button and click 'Verify Now'. You'll need to confirm your address and then Google will take care of the rest - sending you through a postcard in the mail with a pin that you'll need to enter to unlock full verification.
As mentioned, we're big fans of G+ and think this rapidly-expanding network is bursting with potential. But we're always keen to know what you think. Will Google+ one day surpass Facebook or is it destined to go the way of Bebo? As always, let us know in the comments.
And if you're interested in learning more about what G+ and social media marketing can do for your business, connect with me on Google+ or get in touch with RDPR today.
We've also put together a new guide for SMEs looking to get the most out of online marketing, so hit the button below and download it for free today: