Topic: Google+ Business Pages
Opportunity: Social link equity, Google+ and Google search visibility for your brand
Channels: Social, SEO, Paid Search
Google has launched Google+ Business Pages, finally giving brands an identity on Google+. Google+ Business Pages don’t yet have the functionality of Facebook Pages, but brands still should create a Google+ Page now. How to do it? It’s easy—only a few minutes to set up:
- Keep in mind that Pages are connected to one person’s personal Google+ profile. Thus, that person will be the administrator of your brand’s Google+ Page. Additional administrators cannot, as of now, be added. So plan exactly who you want to manage your brand’s Page.
- Have that person join Google+ as a regular user
- Then, easily create your brand’s Google+ Page using the instructions provided
You have a Facebook Page, Twitter Profile, LinkedIn Page, Tumblr Page, YouTube Channel and maybe even a MySpace Page. So why does your brand need another social media page? Well, first—even if you don’t plan to use your Google+ Page—you must claim your official brand Page, or someone else will. It’s currently very easy for someone to steal your official page. Mashable’s Todd Wasserman illustrated this by creating a fake official brand page for Coca-Cola. Google will take down pages created by those who don’t have authority over your brand, and Google does have practices in place to identify and eliminate fake pages—including verification badges, proof of ownership and “report this profile” functionality. But why go through the trouble of reclaiming your official brand page? Claim your brand now! Google+ has 40 million users who represent a large potential reach for your brand. Also, keep in mind that your fans can create “unofficial” Pages for your brand; but you want to be officially represented.
The other reason to create a Google+ Page now is to aid your SEO efforts. As Google strives to perfect social search, SEO is fundamentally changing. Social content from brands is increasingly achieving prominent visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is especially true for searches for your brand name. For example, a search for your brand likely returns top-ten organic results that include your Facebook Page, Twitter Profile or YouTube Channel. Similarly, expect to see your Google+ Page in the top organic results for your brand keywords soon. The more top-ten organic real estate you control via your social properties, the better. Creating a Google+ Page enables you to control one more valuable top-ten listing. This aids in SERP domination and reputation management. Additionally, expect Google to soon feature your brand’s Google+ posts in organic search. After all, it’s easier for Google to create a social SERP by using its own Google+ content than by using outside Facebook or Twitter content.
Now What Do I Do?
Once your brand is officially represented on Google+, you’ll have to decide how much time you want to put into your Page. You could just mirror the content you’re already posting on Facebook or Twitter. Or you could put in some extra effort:
- Promote your Page via your website and other channels to gain followers. Your Page will not be able to communicate with Google+ users until those users subscribe to your Page.
- Segment your followers into different Circles to share customized messages with specific Circles
- Hold Hangouts to chat with your followers (i.e. host webinars, provide customer service, answer questions, etc.). Hangouts are one of the coolest features of Google+; your brand can start a Hangout, invite specific Circles and interact with customers via video in real-time.
- Build Pages for all your locations. Google allows brands to create as many Pages as they like. This may also increase local search visibility. Google plans to soon allow local Pages to send location-based mobile offers to followers.
- Build pages for all your products
- Use your Google+ Page as your website. This may be a good option for some small, local businesses that don’t have the resources to build and maintain a native site.
Here are some things you currently can’t do with Google+:
- Buy advertising (like on Facebook)
- Buy followers
Google+ Pages & the +1 Button
It’s important to understand the relationship between your Google+ Page and the +1 Button. Similar to the Facebook “Like” Button, the +1 Button allows users to +1 your content, as well as your paid search results, display ads and organic search results. When searchers see that their friends (or others) have +1’d a search result, the search result will likely be perceived as more relevant and gain more clicks. If Google succeeds in driving large +1 Button adoption, it will derive a wealth of social cues that can be used to create highly-customized and relevant SERPs. For instance, organic listings with +1’s from searchers’ friends could float to the top of the SERP. Or, paid search ads with substantial +1’s could receive higher Quality Scores. Thus, smart brands are seeking +1’s.
Brands that actively engage participants on Google+ are likely to gain more +1’s for their content. Google also enables brands to link their Google+ Pages with their websites, paid search accounts and display accounts. Thus, +1’s associated with various pieces of content and advertising aggregate in the brand’s Google+ Page. The combined effect of these +1’s can potentially help your brand achieve more visibility on the SERP or in display.
The Future of Google+
Slate has reported that, while 40 million people have joined Google+, these users aren’t doing a lot after they join. Of course, the potential benefits of Google+ Business Pages hinge on whether people use—not just join—Google+. Because of the crowded social landscape, large-scale, Facebook-like use is a challenge for Google+.
This doesn’t change the fact that brands must claim their Google+ Pages now to (1) prevent someone else from doing so and (2) realize the SEO benefits of owning another prominent social property, especially one that Google has an interest in promoting via search. But—after claiming your brand—you must decide how much time you want to dedicate to Google+. Short-term, your brand should give it a try and see what happens. The potential opportunity outweighs administrative costs. Long-term, Google+ must provide enough engaged participants to justify your efforts. Whether this happens remains to be seen.