Widely considered a “poor man’s Facebook”, Google Plus has never been able to compete with the mass appeal and the all-pervasive public nature of Facebook and has widely remained in its shadows till now. Launched with much fanfare as the next big thing in social networking, Google Plus in reality, never actually took off and could not keep up with the media blitzkrieg of Facebook and Twitter. However one may argue, Facebook still remains the undisputed king of social media. Google Plus has a long way to go if it has to topple Facebook from its pedestal, and its popularity has remained more or less limited to business people and the SEO experts.
What is Google Plus?
For the uninitiated, Google Plus (or Google+) is a social networking site that is owned and operated by Google. Although similar in many ways to other social networking or microblogging sites like Facebook or Twitter – we post photos, status updates and share content – the scope of Google Plus, with added features like Circles and Communities, is wider and is more professional and business-friendly. Here, we can form or join Communities according to our shared interest facilitating a more tailored forum for discussion or content sharing. Like in Facebook where we have ‘like’ for a comment or a public share of a content, in Google+, we have +1s, which is basically the same as the Facebook ‘like’.
Why Google Plus?
Google+ is so much more than a social networking platform. One thing that has kept everybody perplexed is why Google created Google+. Well, things are getting to be clear now. In Google’s bigger scheme of things, Google+ is the core of its entire online strategy. Not known to many, Google+ is designed as an SEO leverage tool to dominate the search results above all other social media platforms. What makes it unique is its close association with Google’s own search engine. It captures the data from the social profiles of users such as age, sex, location and much more for a more personalised web browsing experience. Google+ is important for Google for certain strategic reasons like:
- It makes Google’s search engine to be more accurate by leveraging the rich data from the user profiles created there.
- When people search on the web while signing in to Google, their identity, location, and preferences are captured by it which allows for a more personalised and enriching browsing experience.
- On the Google+ platform, on the basis of a +1, comment, or sharing of a content, much information is captured by Google for an enhanced integration of its data over the entire web. The data thus captured allow Google for better personalised organic search results for people during a search.
Google+ is, in essence, the data capturing tool for Google and helps in organising the search results for a more personalised fare.
Google+ and search engine rankings
It is a fact that content posted on Google+ is indexed far quicker than on other sites and is more likely to show up in search because Google ranks its own social network higher and they crawl it faster. Google even previews certain Google+ posts with rich snippets (profile picture, image, etc.), giving them better scope for showing up in a search. Now, that’s something unbeatable, isn’t it? Sharing blog posts on Google+ helps to
- Rank for keyword terms that might otherwise be difficult.
- Drive search traffic to your Google+ profile and possible rerouting of the traffic to your blog and website.
When you post or share a content in Google+, the chances of its showing up in searches of your followers increase. It has a cascading effect too in the sense that when one of your followers share or +1s your content, it is likely to show up in Google search of all those who are connected to that person. This means a simple +1 to your content shared on Google+ has the potential of it achieving the furthest reach. If you could build up a big audience of your own inside Google+, this can get you a lot of exposure to your target audience. Isn’t this wonderful?
Importance of +1s and other activities within Google+
For most social media platforms, the likes, shares, and engagements are on the platform itself and Google’s crawling programmes are not able to get into most of this information for indexing web pages. This is not the case with Google+. A user’s +1s and other activities within the platform are seen by Google’s search engine. Each time a piece of content gets a +1 from a Google+ user, that almost instantly creates an indexed page on Google+ with a link to that piece. This provides immediate organic link SEO for your site.
Significance of using Google+ Circles
The ability to create Circles is a targeting functionality that is unique to Google+. Google+ circles give businesses more control over posts and status updates by giving them the ability to better define who gets engaged in the communications. This means a more specific forum relevant to your business. Circles, if created with proper strategy can effectively leverage this social network platform into a direct marketing tool for businesses to promote products and services to specific target audiences. This calls for having a strong network within Google+ using circles. The more circles you have or the more people you add to these circles, the more likely you are to show up Google search results for your network. When you add every person you emailed to a specific circle, you end up having a list (circles) of friends, family, business partners, colleagues, and many other social or business contacts who would see your content that you share on Google+. Amazing, isn’t it?
Google+ and Gmail – enhanced visibility online
Google has announced that Gmail has more than 1 billion active users in a month. When you send emails from your Gmail account, your Google+ profile appears in every mail that you send for whoever receives your email on their laptops or mobiles. Know what? When you click on someone’s photo in a user’s email sent from Gmail, you are directed to the person Google+ profile. And when the person’s bio is filled out in his profile, you can find so much information about the person – a business that the person owns, website or personal blog, social handles, etc. In order to optimise this functionality, you need to fill out everything in your Google+ profile: photo, links, bio, business, workplace, social handles, or anything that you think is potentially relevant. Thus, when someone clicks on your profile, it throws up every bit of information about you and is one way to making sure that your profile or a blog post that you share show up in a search.
Leveraging Google+ for our target audience
It is not exactly known how many active Google+ users are there worldwide. But it is estimated that around 380 million users are active and since every new Gmail account ends up creating a Google+ profile as well, the number of people with a Google+ account is well above 2 billion. Despite the relatively small number of active users, the few people that use it are very active, in particular, the Google Communities. Remember, this is our potential audience and leveraging this means, we have a higher likelihood of reaching my target niche group.
Google Communities are increasingly becoming popular
Google Communities are a great way to connect with people who share your interests by joining a public or private Community in Google+. We can stay up to date on what’s happening in your communities by the posts shared by members that are sent to you directly in your home streams and through notifications. According to Google:
- You can see posts on public Community pages even if you aren’t a member of the Community.
- If you join a public Community, anyone can see posts you make and a list of members in that Community.
- Only members of the Community can post or comment on Community posts.
- Non-members can +1 a Community post or comment.
So, these Communities are a great way at making yourself more visible and to build an audience, and for a beginner with less following, it only makes sense to join them. It’s great for your learning too.
Google+ and Page Rank
Did you know that the links in Google+ profiles are added with “do follow” tags and that they are treated as web pages? The positive thing about it is that this helps in increasing your website’s visibility and in improving the rankings. On the other hand, in social media networks like Twitter, the links are with “no follow” tags which essentially means the shares do not pass the Page Rank through keeping your website very much insulated.
Fast indexing through Google+
One of the fastest ways in getting your post indexed is by sharing it on Google+. If you had published your blog post recently and want its URL to be indexed and crawled to rank on Google search, you can do so by sharing it on Google+ with a keyword-rich snippet. Indexing happens almost immediately. Cool, isn’t it?
The benefits of having a Google+ profile of yourself or your business are just too many. There’s no reason why you should not be on a social media juggernaut as Google+ and to participate in something that’s so awesome in many ways. No, Google+ was not created to either rival social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter or to replace them. It is part of Google’s bigger scheme to provide a unique personalised affair for the users, to give a beautiful experience in the way we relate to one another and basically how we communicate with the world. It is clear that Google wants to prioritize content shared on its own social media platform over others during rankings. Well, this can only be good news for bloggers and business owners. If you haven’t created or updated your own Google+ profile, do it now and be a part of this great internet revolution.