Google+ A beginner’s guide for business

What is Google+?
Google+ is Google's social networking platform which has many similar features to Facebook and LinkedIn. It was launched during the summer of 2011. By the end of 2011 there were 90 million users and by January 2013 over 500 million with more than 65% active users. Source

What are the unique Google+ features?
The most popular features used by businesses include:

  • Adding their friends or colleagues into different “Circles”, and inviting them to add them back
  • Adding photos, events, videos, news or content on their own page, their “Business page” or Communities they join
  • Video conferencing (Google Hangouts)
  • Encourage others to share or like their website content by encouraging visitors to “+1” their content

Go to Wikipedia for a text book guide to all the features in Google+

How do I set up and optimise a business page on Google+?
You can create a Google+ account for yourself directly from the link on the home page of Google.co.uk, or by visiting plus.google.com. This is best done by logging in using an existing gmail account.

Once you have your own profile you can then create a company page. Google offers different kinds of company pages depending on the type of your business.

You can customise your page with your logo and cover image and then you can share posts, photos and videos. You can also link other Google+ users to become managers of your page.

How does this differ from Google Local?
It is a good idea to have both a Local listing and a Google+ Page as they are slightly different, with the local listing having a map in the header of the page instead of your chosen cover image. Also customer reviews and star ratings are mainly linked to your Local listing.

There are a number of ways you can have a Local listing page in Google+:

  • You can verify an unclaimed listing (these are often created automatically from directory listings).
  • Any existing Google business or places listings would have been automatically converted to a Local Listing in Google+ (in May 2012).
  • You can create a new local listing when creating a Google+ company page.

The other advantage of having a local listing is when you search for a local business or use Google maps your local listing will appears in the search results. This may be:

  • under your organic listing e.g. when searching for your company,
  • within the main organic listings but as part of a group of other local listings (typically 7), with flags on the map in the top right hand corner,
  • in the big panel on the right hand side of the results (which can be combined with the “Knowledge Graph” for well-known places, companies and people),
  • on the maps results page.

What is the best way of adding content to my Google+ business page?
Ideally you can link your website blog to your Google+ account so that every time you add an article to your blog it is also posted to Google+. You can also log into to your Google+ account on your desktop or phone app and add posts with links, photos and interesting content.

Alternatively you can collate and share other peoples' content. If you use news feed services like Feedly or Flipboard, you can find and collate interesting news or blog articles and then share them via your different social media accounts.

However, it is best to add a comment on each article. This will encourage your followers to interact with your post; for example by +1 or commenting on what you have shared.

You can also join Google+ Communities (around specific topics or sectors) and post relevant content to the community.

How do I grow my Google+ followers?
It is human nature for people to reciprocate and follow people that follow or connect to them. So start adding people to your circles. In addition you can contact people in your email lists and invite them to connect.

It is more difficult for a business to grow its followers than for an individual. So you need to use icons on your website or in your emails to encourage customers and contacts to follow or +1 you.

Where and how can I get people to share my content and +1 my content?
Adding sharing icons on your website and blog will allow visitors to easily share or +1 your content. If you have an ecommerce site you can also add these next to products or in auto-responders after someone purchases from you.

How can I link my blog or website to my Google+ page?
The process of linking your website with your Google+ account is 2-way. You have to log in to your Google+ profile settings and add your website and blog urls to your account and then add your Google+ url on our website. You can often find plug-ins and other snippets of code that can be added to your site to make this process easier.

What is Authorship and how do I set this up?
Authorship is a tag within the html code within web pages, which attributes that content to a specific person or author. (Note: A similar tag is the Publisher tag, which is for the company or organisation rather than the individual).

If you have successfully linked your website and your Google+ profile you may see your profile photo next to the search results for specific pages where you are the author. However, you need to be actively posting content and have a complete profile for the image to show (e.g. a low resolution image may prevent it from showing). You can check if your code is set-up correctly for your URL at the following page: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Research has shown that the Authorship (and quality of the photo) can significantly influence the click through on your listing (Source). It is possible that in the future Authorship could be included in the ranking factors for Google's search algorithm.

Is there any evidence that Google+ has a positive influence on the organic results in the search engines?
Many people believe that Google motivation for developing Google+ was to provide information on how individuals linked and liked websites to supplement the linking data in their search algorithm.

There are 2 ways that the +1s, comments and posts in Google+ could influence the results in the search engines:

a) Google actively included some of these factors as part of their algorithm
b) The links from Google+ are “Follow” and carry PageRank or authority.

The debate hotted up in August 2013 when an article on Moz declared a very high correlation between sites with high ranking and Google +1; so that they thought there was possibly a causal link (i.e. that Google included +1 data in the algorithm or (a) above).

Matt Cutts from Google debunked this claim almost immediately, but left the industry convinced that (b) was now so conclusive that Google+ was an essential part of any strategy for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Irrespective of the debate over the effect of Google+ on the search rankings this article outlines that Google+ is a very powerful tool and once implemented should be part of your daily content marketing activities – to learn more about how to best integrate Google+ into your online marketing strategy contact our SEO and Social team.


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