The following article has been written by Aaron Hawkins, senior SEO executive at Distinctly Digital, an SEO/PPC agency based in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.
Google+ is the fastest growing social network. Since its launch on June 28th 2011, Google+ has seen its popularity soar. Many of the early adopters to this emerging social network were those in the ‘tech’ world; however over the last 12-18 months its popularity among avid Facebook/Twitter users has increased significantly month on month.
One of the biggest areas of growth for Google+ has been business engagement. As the benefits have become more apparent, companies have been eagerly claiming their business page. Once a business page is set up, companies can claim the credit for the content they produce through authorship mark up. This has many benefits (as discussed below). In addition, companies can acquire a Google Places/Local listing in both map results and in some cases to the right of search results, as per below graphic.
Google authorship is one of the most talked about features of Google+; essentially this feature allows you to claim authorship of your original content. This is very powerful at a time when ‘content is king’ and so much content is being duplicated/scraped. Laying claim to content you write the moment it is published, ensures Google+ gives you the credit for that content.
Linking a Google+ profile to your content has the additional benefit of ‘rich snippets’. These are the search results that display a small thumbnail picture of whom produced the content. It has been proven time and time again that results that display a rich snippet result nearly always receive higher click through rates owing to the fact these results are perceived as more credible. It is a perception that is growing, as are the number of ‘rich snippets’ in the search results.
Setting up Authorship is very straight forward and simply involves linking your Google+ business profile (once set up) to your website(s). You can find a guide to setting up authorship here.
Once your business page is set up, you can add your business address(s) to appear on their map results. Registering your business address often involves verifying your address via a 4 digit code Google will post to you. Once set up, your business will receive additional visibility via map searches in addition to ‘local’ results where Google pulls geographically located results as well as general listings into a user’s results page.
Google+ offers individuals and business users the ability to divide the people they connect with into ‘circles’ which means you can keep your colleagues, clients and suppliers quite separate in terms of who and what you share with those groups. For example you could share content only with your colleagues. A short video that illustrates this benefit is ‘What is Google+ and why do I need it?’.
There are many additional benefits that Google+ offers that are increasing in popularity – one feature is ‘communities’. As a business owner you can create or join as many communities as you wish. These are generally focused around a given topic or niche and are places where small communities can share ideas, inspiration, thoughts and insights. Communities are a very powerful tool for businesses looking to build relationships with customers and further build their reputation online. Naturally communities and social sharing are extremely popular signals to Google when it comes to SEO.
Hangouts are live video sessions that can be held for free – a very useful tool that creative brands are making the most of. They are used to gather market research, conduct real-time surveys and to encourage interaction between their company and its customers.
Those using Google+ to its best potential are placing the social network at the core of all they do online, for example, linking your other social networks to your profile page ensures Google relates your content/Google+ account with your additional social media activity.
Producing and sharing innovative and informative content on Google+ is a must if a business is to reap the rewards of all Google+ has to offer. It is worth noting that Google+ does not guarantee to show ‘rich snippets’ in search results just because you have set up your authorship. Authorship has to be earned; a business can do this by maintaining their Google+ profile and producing great content.
Google+ is Google’s own social network and it goes without saying they are looking at this social network more than any other as signs of quality and trust when it comes to its algorithm. An active Google+ account combined with authored content and a map listing will ensure a business is ticking all the boxes with regards to Google+. An infographic to further illustrate the benefits of Google+ was recently produced by Timothy Carter, I would encourage you to check it out.
Many thanks to Aaron and Distinctly Digital for providing this really useful guest blog. You can contact Distinctly on tel: 01923 728191.