The Way We Work
December 14, 2011 by Julia Camenisch

When Google rolled out Google+ business pages on Nov. 7, the online world was abuzz as companies and freelancers rushed to take part in what entrepreneur and marketing expert Guy Kawasaki termed a “land grab”. But as the dust began to settle, many were left asking: “What now?” Still others wondered whether a Google+ business page was even needed.

There is no question that Facebook is currently the heavyweight champion in the social networking ring – and, as many big name brands are discovering, building your company’s fan base on Google+ can be a slow process.

Creating a Google+ business presence is worth it – if you do it right. The connection to Google and the platform’s key features make it a pretty compelling tool. Here are a few reasons to embrace Google+, and tips to create a page for your business that truly rocks.

Google+ Benefits for Your Small Business

  • Take control of search results. Imagine having better control over what shows up when people Google your business. Verified Google+ business pages show up in search results, giving you more influence over screen space. This can help push any negative Yelp or blog reviews farther down – hopefully into oblivion!
  • Improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Since your Google+ business page is searchable, you have another handy outlet for page links and keywords. And this is not just for driving traffic to your website; with the introduction of Google’s Social Extension, your popularity – measured by the number of +1s you have received – can show up under your AdWords text. This can give your trustworthiness a nice boost when customers view your ad.
  • Target your messages. One of the key features of Google+ is the ability to choose which audience you share a particular message with. The Circles feature allows you to segment your customers by age, gender, location or any other form of classification you can dream up. It is a great way to further tailor your marketing efforts.
  • Interact with customers. How successful can your business be if you do not understand your customers? Using Google+ Hangouts, you can easily get to know your patrons on a more personal level. Use it to host giveaways, get feedback about products or even host live webinars.

Creating a Google+ Page That Works

Like any other social media outlet, just having a presence on Google+ is not going to do you much good – beyond protecting your brand identity. You can leverage the power of your Google+ business page to drive traffic to your site and increase conversions by following these tips.

Set it up right:

  • Fill in the blanks. To make the most of the SEO potential, fill in all the information for your business page and include relevant keywords.
  • Give it a facelift. Use the Scrapbook feature to add personality to your page using photos. You can annotate images, which is another opportunity for effectively adding keywords.
  • Add yourself to the map. If you have a physical location, make use of the “Local” option. This will help customers find you.
  • Add in some link love. Include links back to your website in the “Recommended Links” section. Nothing like a little backlinking!

Share effectively:

  • Use multimedia as much as possible. Google+ is a media-friendly environment; video clips and photos display prominently in news feeds so look for ways to incorporate them into what you share. When posting your own videos, be sure to include a transcript for SEO purposes.
  • Create multiple pages. Google+ allows a business to have up to 20 different pages. This can be a great tool if your company has various product lines targeted to different customer demographics. You can also use pages for highlighting events or supporting user groups.
  • Don’t overshare. For a user, it is incredibly annoying to have your feed dominated by one brand. If you overload your followers with posts, they will unfollow you.

Promote your page:

  • Set up a vanity URL. The Google+ URL – which uses numbers instead of your business name – is not an attractive option for sharing or marketing. Do not use it! Instead, follow this handy tutorial from SumTips to create a much more user-friendly webpage address.
  • Use management tools. With multiple social media outlets, it can be quite a chore to stay on top of everything. Make use of a media manager with Google+ integration, such as HootSuite or Buddy Media, so you can update regularly from one location. Good intentions aside, if you have to go through one extra step to update your page, you will probably avoid doing it! Let management apps cut the hassles for you.
  • Spread the word. Your customers and blog followers are not necessarily going to seek you out on Google+ – you have to let them know you are there. Mention it in newsletters, on Facebook, on your blog and any other communication channels you use.
  • Make use of widgets. As with all social media outlets, the key to value is attracting an engaged following. You can help build that community using widgets to promote your Google+ page on your website. Check out Gregory Ciotti’s great review of the various widget options.

Have you set up your Google+ business page yet? What features do you like and which do you hate? Do you think Google will become the social media destination? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


 

Julia Camenisch

Contributing Author

Julia Camenisch is a freelance technology and business journalist. She also works as an editor and copywriter for a wide range of clients, including national magazines, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Julia brings to oDesk a passion for empowering small businesses through the innovative use of technology.