Let me ask you a question to get us started: when was the last time you used Google? I don’t just mean Google.com, I mean YouTube, Google Drive, Google Maps, have Android on your smartphone, use a Google Calendar, Google Hangouts, and Gmail etc.
When you take all of Google’s products and services into account, you will probably say within the last day (or even the last hour). Google has created so many ‘things’ to make our lives more efficient, connecting us all in new ways. Here is the thing, though do you still think that Google is really just ‘Search’? Many people in business have missed out on the last wave of integration across so many of Google’s products and services; and this integration has come in the form of a social layer called Google+
Google+ and Google Search
Since its launch in June 2011, Google+ has been picking up pace with the latest figures from Google stating there are 300 million people active within ‘the stream’ (i.e. the Google+ platform) and around 1 billion ‘Google One’ accounts in total.
Google+ is a social network unlike any other. Why? Well, one reason is how Google+ relates to Google Search. Increasingly you may have noticed a few things happening to Google Search as well.
The first is how search results are getting more and more personalized. With ‘Search Plus Your World’ on Google.com you can flip between personalized to the extent of seeing results from people in your Google+ network. As such, your search results are influenced directly by people to whom you are connected. Turning this around, and thinking like a business, this means that YOU can influence other people’s search results if they are connected with you on Google+. “What does this mean?” I hear you cry! Well, it means you want to start building your network so you too can influence people’s results through relevant content surfacing when people search.
Next, you may well have seen an image appear alongside many Search results. This personal branding alongside connected content comes from ‘Google Authorship’, and the reports are clear that this (plus the other information listed e.g. number of people who have them in circles) gives a higher click through rate i.e. more traffic to you and your website. If you haven’t set this up yet then visit here: https://plus.google.com/authorship
So, this leads us on to how any business can take advantage of Google+ in order to get better search results. The answer is simple: build that network, create content that has value to the community, and through engagement, that content will surface in Google Search. This is all about Social Search Engine Optimization (SEO) using Google+ – and once you’ve learned how to be the best answer for people’s search enquiries, you will find your traffic levels will rise dramatically.
What is the cost?
Well, it is free. BUT it does take time, effort and a little skill. Gone are the days when you could consider paying a company to ‘get you to number one’ – now you need to see your Google+ activity as central to your website strategy. In the new Google world, which is called Google+, you can no longer ‘buy’ authority and results – now you earn it. So in this way, there is a cost to every small business. The thing is though, you can really gain long term by starting now. The bigger your network and engagement, the better.
The best thing of all is that a small business can compete with a corporation like never before. If you want to smile you may even see that I achieved a first page result for the term ‘What is Google?’, it is that powerful.
What should you do next?
If you are not already on Google+, start now. This is not going to go away. And if you are not getting the response from your existing marketing budget then shift it towards allocating resources to Google+
A tip when you get started is to think of it like a global cocktail party that has been going on for a while: you’ve arrived and now you need to meet people, so do this first before you start to hand out any business cards (i.e. your content). Engage with others first and you will be welcomed.
Then, after a while, look at planning your content and how you can ‘tell your story’ to the world through what you create – make it about the community around you and they will engage. Finally, know that it will take work but it is the future of Google Search and has opened up the possibility for the best to rise to the top again. Are you ready show the world how great you are?
About the Author: Get in touch with Martin Shervington at www.plusyourbusiness.com where you will find free training resources for everyone looking to take their game to the next level.