First there was orkut (2004), then Google Friend Connect (2008), then Google Buzz (2010). So, when Google+ was launched as an invitation-only social networking site in June 2011 and then launched to the general public three months later, many commentators adopted a wait-and-see approach to Google’s latest attempt to create a social networking site that would rival Facebook.
In April 2012, Google announced that Google+ had
170 million users. If the site continues on the same growth path, it is projected to have 400 million users by the end of the year. While this is only half as many as Facebook currently has, Facebook took eight years to reach this user level.
The winning formula
Google+ has a number of features that are contributing to its success. Design-wise, it has borrowed some of the best elements of Facebook and combined them with lots of white space and big images. Structurally, it allows you to organise your contacts into different circles and to choose which messages you share with those circles. For businesses, this means that you can share news, new products or services, or industry updates with different groups of customers or clients, making sure your messages are relevant. You can also interact with circle members directly on video, using Google+ Hangouts.
Setting up a business page on Google+
The big advantage of having a Google+ page is that Google is currently favouring the new social network in
its search engine results. However, Google’s three priorities – relevance, external endorsement and frequency – are still paramount. Here’s what you need to do to create the best possible Google+ page to maximise these three elements.
1 Relevance: Google wants to present people searching for information with the most relevant results and the best quality
content. When you fill in the “About” section of your Google+
business profile and your tagline, include the keywords and long-tail keywords that you want your business to be found for. For instance,
a piano shop might include a long-tail keyword such as “buy pianos
in Brisbane” and have the tagline: Brian’s Pianos: the best place to
buy pianos in Brisbane”. In the “Recommended links” section, add
your business’s website, as well as links to profiles on other social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also optimise the names of your circles by including your business’s keywords.
2 External endorsement: In the same way that having authoritative sites link to you is good for search engine optimisation, including thought leaders in your Google+ circles helps you catch Google’s attention. To do this, identify users on Google+ who comment on your industry or related topics, then interact with them by commenting on their updates and sharing interesting content with them. Ultimately, you want to add them to one of your circles and have them link back to your profile.
3 Frequency: The Google search engine prefers relevant content that is updated frequently. Try to add new content (a post, photo, video, infographic and so on) to your Google+ page at least every two to three days. Because Google is set to prefer Google+ content organically in searches, if you’re choosing between posting on a business blog or on Google+, you might want to opt for the latter.
Promoting your business on Google+
The network has a +1 button that allows people to recommend your business and your content to others in their social network. You can also put the Google+ icon or badge on your website, which will direct people who click on it to your Google+ page. Getting more +1s will also help with your search rankings on Google.
Useful tools and resources
- Visit Australia Post on Google+
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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