Google+® continues to struggle to make headway as a social network, with users spending less than 10 minutes per month using the network as opposed to Facebook users who spend close to seven hours per month1 on the platform. The New York Times referred to Google+ as a ghost town and went even further by stating that, “it’s a competitor to Facebook® that never took off.”2
While Google+ is not the first social network that comes to most people’s minds, brands with an eye toward search engine optimization (SEO) would be wise to allocate resources toward maintaining a Google+ business profile. The content of Google+ business profiles is indexed and factored into the search results that Google® provides when a web user searches for a keyword(s). Competition is fierce for high page rankings in search results for certain keywords, and a selection of Google+ profiles are often found among the page one listings. This is particularly true for searches with local qualifiers, such as a ZIP code or a city name combined with the services being sought after. So even if your brand website isn’t ranking as high as you would like, you’re increasing your chances of exposure by maintaining an active presence on Google+.
It may seem a hassle to maintain yet another social media profile for your business, particularly if you are already active on Facebook and Twitter®. However, while Facebook and Twitter users can search for content from other Facebook and Twitter users when they are logged in, that content is largely not searchable outside of the respective platforms due to restrictions between them and major search engines. This is definitely subject to change, as content from both Facebook and Twitter was once available in Google results, and Facebook content was searchable in Bing more recently, but for now, the content is restricted and, therefore, offers little in the way of benefit to your organic search rankings. This presents a situation for marketers where all three networks must be accounted for in order to both follow the masses (Facebook/Twitter) and build brand equity in the eyes of search engines (Google+).
Even with Google+ having a greater SEO impact, it’s important not to totally rule out Facebook and Twitter when it comes to organic search results. Even though Google won’t be indexing the actual content of your Facebook and Twitter posts, Google search results will display links to your Facebook/Twitter profiles when users search for your brand. For web users who gravitate toward brands’ social profiles more than their company websites, this provides important exposure through organic search.
Where all of this indexing becomes important is in the way your Google+ posts are treated. Google+ takes your posts and creates a unique URL. Google then associates this URL with important and influential content, which is extremely important in the eyes of the search engine, because search algorithms reward the creation of fresh content. Also, hashtags within those posts become clickable, allowing users to see posts from all other users/brands incorporating that same hashtag. This creates a circle of users who are all talking about the same thing, exposing your content to like-minded users. Because each post resides on a separate URL, Google crawls it as if it were a regular web page, assigning a page rank based on level of interaction with that post (which subsequently influences the visibility of that post in organic search results).
Google+ joined the social network scene a little too late to have any major influence on how you interact with someone you had class with in high school, but with new search algorithms in place, it offers up a lot of opportunities for businesses. With search behaviors changing, you might be missing out on reaching potential customers who “Google” products and services you offer by not incorporating the platform into your social strategy.
1.“Google+ Users Still Spend Less Time Than On Facebook.” (10 May, 2013).
2.Cain-Miller, Claire. “The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly For Google. The New York Times. (14, February 2014).