Google+, one of the most hyped up social media launches in memory, seemed to quickly fall off the radar. Many expected it to be a ‘Facebook killer’ and after trying the network, decided it was far from it. However, there is more to Google+ than merely being ‘just another social network’ – something many businesses and self-promoting individuals are finding out.
Google+ is different to Facebook (and Twitter, and Linkedin, and blogs…), but it’s also somewhat similar, combining elements of each in one simple, innovative platform. In addition to combining many of the best features of the existing social networks, it appears that Google+ may have a number of unique benefits for businesses as well. Google looks to have created Google+ with the integration of the social network and the search engine in mind. Many of the features of the website closely link with the search engine, and may actually benefit SEO. Some of these features include:
- Easy public posting. For those wanting maximum exposure for their posts, it is easy to have your post seen by anyone – and I mean anyone. A public post on Google+ is indexed by Google and can show up in the search engine. This is a big difference to many other social networks, where almost all posts are completely inaccessible for indexing. Businesses benefit here from increased exposure, especially when a post receives a high level of engagement.
- Integration with 3rd party websites. One of the more interesting features I’ve found with Google+, is the ability to take information from a Google+ profile and link it with an author’s name on a blog post with a simple ‘rel=author’ tag. This tag means that if the blog article shows up in the organic results on Google, the profile picture from Google+ is drawn from the profile and displayed alongside some basic data (SEE EXAMPLE). This could be important, as, beyond links between websites (I’ll cover that in a moment), having a profile image beside an organic search result provides great cut through.
- Backlinks. This could be one of the biggest features for SEO. Unlike some of the other social media giants (including Facebook and Twitter), links on Google+ are ‘rel=follow’ – meaning link juice may be passed from (and to) the social network. This appears to happen in a number of ways. The ‘About’ section of a Profile or Business Page allows for external ‘follow’ links, with customised anchor text, meaning that if you’ve generated a profile or page with high ‘page authority’, you can pass that benefit on to your website. Your personal profile on G+ also benefits from backlinks. Using the ‘rel=author’ tag mentioned above instantly creates a link to your G+ profile, passing on any benefit to that G+ page.
Clearly then, there is more to Google+ than meets the eye. The social network is popular with social media experts for a reason. Google is also constantly updating Google+, calling it not a ‘product’ but a ‘project’ – so we can probably expect many more updates to come. With Facebook stepping up its search tool, Google is going to have to ensure it offers businesses more reasons to concentrate social media efforts on its platform.
However, one thing is very much consistent between all social platforms – your business will get nowhere without engagement; and you won’t generate any engagement without good quality content. To gain the full benefit from any of the mentioned features, businesses have to develop a strategy that allows them to post good quality content (whether it is original or shared from elsewhere), interact with customers, and network with other users.