Adoption of Google+ Essential for Canadian Businesses

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By Kelly Robertson

If you’re like many companies in Canada, you’re still trying to figure out how social media can help you with your business objectives. In addition, figuring out which social networks to use within your strategy and who will manage those initiatives is also very time-consuming. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube have been the primary social networks companies have focused their marketing efforts around; however, with the introduction of Google+ there is a new player on the field and so far, it promises to be the strongest and most adopted social network of all.

What is Google+?

Google’s answer to a social network: “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world.” Users are able to share status updates, photos and links to content. Like Facebook, they can then share that content with the people they interact with. On Google+ personal networks are referred to as “circles”. Users can create different circles to share different content. For example, you would likely share different content with your business circle than you would with your friends or family circles.

Something different Google+ offers from other social networks, particularly useful to businesses, is Hangouts. Hangouts is a new way to video conference via social networking. Recent examples of how businesses are using Hangouts are U.S. Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who hosted a political Hangout on Special Report and Lee Allison’s Google+ Cooking School where she teaches intimate cooking classes via Hangouts. Tech industry experts agree Hangouts are soon to be a common business practice for conferencing.

Advantageous Integrations mean exponential growth for Google+ a “natural”.

Google’s business strategy to date has been to continuously innovate and produce products complementary to its search engine as well as provide products that obtain market share in its competitor’s space, i.e. Google’s Picasa vs. Yahoo’s Flickr. The Search Engine has lined itself up for some very natural growth by developing products that seamlessly integrate with Google+ to form a cohesive social network.

These product integrations include Picasa, YouTube, Search, Gmail, Blogger and Maps; by integrating Google products people are already using, adopting Google+ is the next natural step. These integrations make it easy for its user base to share content freely on Google+ from the other Google products they use, giving Google the advantage over other social networks that rely on third party applications for feature integrations.

The results of Google’s social network and natural integrations are incredible; it took just 16 days for Google+ to obtain 10 million users. In comparison both Facebook and Twitter took over 700 days to reach the same threshold. Growing at an alarming rate of 625,000 users per day, Google+ has another piece of the Google pie to thank—the Android. There are currently 700,000 Androids being purchased each day. This means Google has a multitude of platforms to capture users online and via mobile. Now, more than ever, companies need to recognize Google+ as a viable, long-term marketing channel and start formulating a plan around it.

Search Your World

The latest Google+ integration, Search Your World, is a huge game changer for the average Joe whose primary search engine has been Google. For years people have chosen Google as their search engine due to the highly relevant search results it has always provided. However, now with the Search Your World integration, users will see social data within their Google search queries.

“Social search”, or search results that incorporate social data, has been in the works for a number of years, with Bing also incorporating social data long before Search Your World arrived. The integration of search and Google+ takes the inclusion of this data one step further by incorporating user generated content from other Google+ users within one of your Google+ circles.

For example, say you are researching a vacation to Maui. You type “Maui” into Google and search results are produced with your pictures, status updates and posts about Maui by your friends in your Google+ circles. Search engines agree that by providing this type of social data within search results will help the end user make more informed decisions based on what their peers say, rather than the typical results formulated by Google’s algorithm and influenced by Internet marketers.

But How Will Google+ Affect Businesses?

Why Adoption of Google+ is “essential” for businesses

Social data appearing at the top of search results is now the default set of results one will see when surfing the net while logged into their Google account; they will not see social data in their search results if they are not logged in. This is fine for the savvy Internet user, but it’s the un-savvy user who doesn’t realize they can influence their search results that will be harder for businesses to reach through search engine optimization (SEO).

Social data appearing above your well-optimized organic listings now means that it will be harder to determine your organic website rankings, harder to obtain organic traffic from your targeted keyphrases, and harder for customers to find you. The change has also resulted in Google local search results not appearing as frequently—a move that will likely hurt businesses that rely on local business (i.e., pizza delivery in Vancouver).

What can businesses do to minimize the damage caused by the Search Your World integration?

In addition to social data appearing on top of all organic listings, Facebook and Twitter social data is not included in this. The social data being pulled into search results is only from Google+ which identifies a strong reason why businesses can no longer ignore Google+ business pages and should not only create a business page, but become active with their brand and ensure there are many social mentions of their brand taking place on Google+ so they appear in relevant search results.

The addition of Google+ social data ranking in organic search makes Google+ pages much like a secondary website option for businesses. This means that businesses should incorporate their keyphrases into every Google+ post to increase the relevance of each post in important searches.

One way for businesses to gain additional clout in Google is to use the rel=”author” tag in their blog posts. This tag lets Google know about your Google+ profile, helping to rank your blog organic rankings.

For years, Google has been the No. 1 choice in search engines and currently holds 80.57 per cent of the search market share, due to its ability to provide relevant search results. With the introduction of Search Your World, businesses need to take notice of the changes Google is making if they wish to retain their online visibility, and especially if they have invested in professional SEO services. Creating a Google+ business page and becoming an active user will ensure your company remains competitive in the online space. 

Kelly Robertson is the marketing manager at 6S Marketing, a digital marketing agency with offices in Toronto and Vancouver. 6S specializes in providing their clients with online strategies that ultimately increase qualified, sales ready traffic through their websites. They have provided their expertise in search engine optimization, paid search marketing, Google Analytics and social media projects to hundreds of clients since 2000. Visit www.6Smarketing.com for more information.

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