By Al Cadena
Nevertheless, Google+ is very much alive and crucial to any marketer’s social-media campaign, for one big reason: It’s part of Google.
Because of that, Google+ is more important for SEO than any other social-media site. Want to make sure your website content gets found in an online search? Put it on Google+. Adding a +1 to relevant content will help your products and brand content organically get discovered online.
People are finding and learning about brands from Google search results every day, and utilizing Google+ features such as Hangouts and Communities, as well as requiring a Google+ sign in to view content, can all create deeper engagement with consumers.
Know what else is big on the internet? YouTube. Guess who owns that. You got it: Google!
To comment on a YouTube post, you need to have a Google+ account. As an agency that creates social-media campaigns with YouTube influencers, we’ve seen more and more people engaging with branded video via Google+, and know that brand marketing on YouTube is only going to continue to explode. YouTube is the only social network that online influencers can really make money on, so they’re willing to work hard to support YouTube and promote it. In fact, Google even has YouTube studios where influencers can learn higher-end filming techniques.
According to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for 69% of all Internet traffic. As it stands, YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month—more than any other channel, apart from Facebook—and more and more time spent on the internet is moving to YouTube. The newest group of media consumers, Generation Z, has no problem recording their activities and sharing them with their friends, and YouTube and Google+ give them the perfect vehicle for that. And as of last month, Google+ users can now import videos to their YouTube account.
Google+ also has more users than you think. A Forrester survey released in January 2014 showed that more U.S. adults (22%) use Google+ than LinkedIn (19%) and Pinterest (18%). As of Oct. 2013, Google reported that 300 million people a month globally visit the social network, a 58% jump in users from the previous year – and more than Twitter’s 241 million.
While those numbers are nowhere near Facebook’s billion-plus user count, many users report preferring Google+ for the opportunities its competitor doesn’t provide: engaging with strangers who have similar interests and hobbies, and consuming longer-form content, rather than the attention deficit user experience of Facebook. As Facebook’s algorithm changes have caused brands to spend more to get exposure; Google+ can provide an alternative solution to get content shown.
According to Forrester, top brands have about 90% more Google Plus followers than they do Twitter fans, and its followers are twice as engaged as Twitter followers. Brands that cater toward young men may want to pay special attention to Google+, as close to 70% of the platform’s users are male, and the average user age is 28. Many of these users are professionals in the tech industry, and early adopters.
Additionally, as the number of Android users worldwide grows, so will the number of Google+ users. According to Google, more than 1 million new Android devices are activated worldwide every day, with market figures from analyst ABI Research pegging the platform at 80% market share of smartphone OSes. The Share dialog in Android apps provides a means for users to share rich content from the app into the Google+ stream, including text, photos, URL attachments and location.
Ready to take advantage of Google+ ? Here’s a baker’s dozen tips to help you optimize Google+ for your business:
1. First and foremost, make sure to add a link to your Google+ profile on your website. Take advantage of linking to your Google+ profile anywhere else it is allowed, such as on other social media profiles and email signatures.
2. Add an accompanying Google+ post and backlink to any new brand website content, as Google will find and index these quicker than most other sites.
3. Adding a small “publisher” tag to the HTML code of your brand site (Rel=Publisher) “claims” the site as your own and will allow Google to provide richer information about your profile within search results.
4. Post copy becomes post title, so include primary keywords in the first 40-50 characters. This is beneficial to post ranking.
5. Get social. Add relative profiles to your circles, comment on related profiles and share their content as a mixture within your editorial calendar. Share your relevant and beneficial content directly to communities and active, influential Google+ profiles. Be responsive and ask questions to start back and forth discussions.
6. Bold & italicize post text and tag relevant people with “+.”
7. Customize your public profile with your 10 word “story,” public contact information, profile image and a bold cover image.
8. Thank your supporters or poll your audience once you’ve established a follower base.
9. Share insider content, which should differentiate from Facebook & Twitter content. This goes hand-in-hand with exclusive promotions. Content should be predominately brand-related, but can also offer help, tips/tricks, and spread brand insights/opinions.
10. Cross-promote Google+ with your other social networks.
11. Use hashtags. Google automatically includes hashtags derived from a post’s content, but these can always be removed.
12. Employ visuals of varying formats, styles, and sizes. The most engaging rich media are beautiful photos, great videos, and useful charts/infographics. You can also leverage photo galleries for your posts.
13. Take advantage of Google+ Hangouts. For example, host a Hangout session to explain products and lend your expertise. If you create a demo video for your audience to watch on Hangouts, it will live there forever.
In a worst-case scenario, a robust Google+ brand presence is vital to SEO success, and in a best-case scenario, it provides an integrated search and social strategy with the potential for higher engagement engagement across the Google suite of products. Don’t keep your marketing strategy in a bubble. In a 24/7 world of content, you need to make sure you’re going where your users are.
Al Cadena is senior account director at Beeby Clark+Meyler.