Do you need a Google Plus Business Page?

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Whether you are a Social Media Marketing advocate or sceptic you may be unsure as to the value of Google+ to your business’s digital profile. I am here to tell you that a Google+ business presence will add value to your web profile and therefore to the revenue generating potential of your business online. How Google+ will benefit you depends on the nature of your business, but there is no question that you should be utilising this free marketing resource.

SEO Value

If you consider engaging on Google+ for no other reason you should do it simply because +1s of onsite content have been proven to increase Google rankings! In August 2013 moz.com published a post saying:

“After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor.”

This conclusion was drawn based on extensive research into ranking factors and comparative analysis to the previous research done two years before.

How do +1s add SEO Value?

I am not going to completely re-hash the moz post, I recommend reading it if you want more information on my overview: http://moz.com/blog/google-plus-correlations. But in summary:

  1. By +1-ing a piece of content you are submitting it straight into Google’s index, enabling it to be quickly and easily included in the search results
  2. The +1 links to the content are “follow” links and therefore pass on link equity
  3. Posts can build up authority within Google+ by being shared, +1ed and commented on. This all contributes to making the +1 link to your content more authoritative

You can also link your Google+ Page to your Google Webmaster Tools account, sharing the value between the two.

Customer Engagement

But SEO value shouldn’t be the only reason your business has a profile on Google+. Every time someone creates a Google Mail email account a Google+ personal account is created for them. This means that there are lots of people registered in Google+. Google announced in October 2013 that Google+ has 540 million active users.

According to a post by Jeff Bullas Google+ has seen an over 200% increase in users aged 35 – 44 and 140% increase in users aged 55 – 64 when comparing Q2 2013 to Q2 2012. So whatever your business, age demographics should not dictate whether or not it is worth engaging on Google+ to market to them. There is a safe bet that you can reach your target customer age group on Google+.

Targeted Messaging

With Google+ Circles you can group the people you engage with on Google+ in your Circles. For example:

  • Past customers
  • Active customers
  • Potential customers
  • Partner businesses

You can then post content on your profile only visible to those different audience groups. So you can post an exclusive new customer offer on your profile that only people in your ‘Potential Customers’ circle will be able to see. When you add new potential customers to the circle they will be able to see that content too. There is no risk of alienating active customers who may pay more because they did not get that offer, because they can’t see it.

Brand Ownership

When someone searches for your brand it is important that you “own” page 1 of the search results and that there is no room for your competitors to get visibility against your brand.

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A Google+ Page helps you to do that. It pulls the Knowledge Graph style summary about your brand on the right hand side of the search results which includes your recent Google+ Page posts. It also links to your Google+ Page under your homepage meta description and pulls in your registered address.

Google+ Local

Google+ is possibly the easiest way for local offline businesses to appear at the top of the Google search results for their brand and target keywords. Whether or not you have a website every business can benefit from being listed in Google Maps, through Google+ Local.

This started as Google Maps, then became Google Local and is now Google+ Local. It is your business’s Google Maps listing that incorporates:

  • Your business address
  • Information about your business
  • A link to your website
  • Photos of your business
  • Reviews of your business
  • Your Google+ Business Page

If someone searches in Google for “[your service] [your location]” e.g. “electrician Brighton” Google will trigger its Local results. This pulls in the map on the right hand side and pulls in Google+ Local results towards the top of the results, above “normal” website results:

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This gives businesses a huge opportunity to jump to the top of the search results above authoritative sites that they would struggle to out-rank in the organic web search results.

Reviews

Whatever the nature of your business, getting reviews on your Google+ Local Page will help your business. Tara wrote a great post on how to get Google+ Local reviews last year. I recommend taking a look.

SEO Value of Reviews

The more reviews that your Google+ Local Page gets the higher your business will rank in the Google Local search results. For example, if there are 4 Italian restaurants on the same road in Brighton, how should Google decide which order to list them in when someone searches for “Italian restaurant Brighton”? It will look at the following factors:

  • How close the business is to the central point in Brighton (not relevant because they are on the same road)
  • How long the listing has been there
  • The category that the listing is in
  • If the listing has been verified
  • How many reviews the listing has

So, assuming that the restaurants have all had Google Local listings for a few years and they are all in the right category the way that they can differentiate themselves is through the number of customer reviews they have. The restaurant with more reviews should be listed higher in the results.

Online reviews also help to increase the number of citations of your brand online, building the overall authority of your website.

Footfall Value of Reviews

Local service providers, restaurants and shops can all win and lose business before the potential customer has ever even spoken to the proprietor based on the reviews available online. When looking for a new restaurant I will often check the Google+ Local reviews before considering somewhere. Having no reviews is even worse than a couple of bad reviews, as long as there are some good ones too, because it means no-one feels strongly enough about the restaurant to leave a review either way. So making sure your business has a strong Google+ Local presence can make a big difference in even having a chance to win new customers.

Yes

In answer to my original question “Do you need a Google Plus Business Page?” unequivocally YES. Whether you want to utilise the platform for posting SEO content, for building your brand’s authority online or you want to go full-hog and engage your audiences on Google+ there is considerable value to be had.

As a social media marketer I would advise that you fully utilise Google+ by creating an optimised business page, developing an engaging, audience targeted content strategy, +1ing your SEO content, building customer reviews and posting engaging content that builds your following with target customers. However, I accept that not everyone will do that. Nevertheless, any one of those will add value to your business online, so get going!

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