This mini-series of blog posts will be full of useful information and tips to help you plan, structure and execute an effective social media marketing campaign
for your small business. This post looks at the most exciting (in my opinion!) and potential-rich social media platform, Google+. All of the ideas and tips below are 100% free and quick and easy to implement.
Since Google launched its social network over a year ago, opinion has been divided over the value it adds to businesses and consumers. In November 2011 Google launched brand pages on Google+, allowing businesses to easily create or bolster their online presence. With Google now claiming to have 75million daily Google Plus users worldwide, this represents an excellent marketing opportunity for brands and businesses both large and small.
Why should small business invest time and effort into Google+?
1. Get an SEO boost
Ok, this one’s a bit obvious but somewhat unsurprisingly, Google+ pages seem to rank well in Google. Creating a business page can earn you a very quick top ranking for your brand name or can support rankings for your businesses website.
Secondly, your website’s listings in Google Search pages will be enhanced with your Google+ page and additional information displayed.
Thirdly, all your posts and updates are available publicly and therefore viewable and commentable from anyone on Google+ who may be searching but also via traditional Google search pages. In terms of reach, this is without comparison, even beyond Facebook’s reach.
2. Earn top rankings overnight with Google Local
Entering your address/ location details will trigger your Google+ page to appear in local searches for some localised search queries, which is a great way to capture relevant, high converting traffic. This is particularly important, nay essential, if your business only offers services to a specific location(s) or area(s). Tradesmen (plumbers, electricians, builders etc.), restaurateurs and bar owners for example must
have a local presence and Google+ offers a very quick and easy way to earn that presence.
3. Give customers confidence in your offering with customer reviews
Zagat’s review engine
has been incorporated onto Google+ pages and can really help to convince potential customers of your businesses credibility. Should a customer not be sure whether to use your building services, or need convincing of your credentials as a freelance designer for example, a handful of positive reviews can really help to reassure a nervous customer.
We’ve witnessed the impact of site ratings on traffic and revenues from Google Shopping and the Zagat reviews will have a similar effect in terms of Google+.
4. Directly engage with your customers face to face using Hangouts
Google+ gives its users a free and easy to use video conferencing tool which has myriad uses. Freelancers can use the platform to host video conferences to pitch business or present latest work to clients, clothing designers can host Q&A sessions with customers and to showcase products or trade professionals can use the platform as a branding tool by running tutorials.
If it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for you! Image from lostremote.com
The technology allows start-ups and small businesses to engage and market themselves in a professional manner, with no overhead costs. Also, Google Calendar can be synched with Hangouts, allowing you to create a calendar event and invite specific customers (competition winners for example) in a structured, professional and efficient way.
5. Segment your audience using Circles
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Google+ allows its users to group contacts into specific ‘circles’ meaning that marketeers can segment contacts demographically and send out posts and information to specific demographics to achieve maximum impact. For example, men may be interested in some information that women won’t, finance directors may be interested in things that marketing managers may not etc.
6. Rel=Author tags
Should you have a blog set up already, you’ll be able to synchronise it with your Google+ profile using an HTML tag that references your Google+ profile page. Should your blog posts earn rankings in Google, your Google+ profile picture, name and circles details will appear next to your listing, making the space more eye-catching and likely to improve click through rates.
7. Personalised search will improve search exposure
At time of writing, this only exists in the US though, as most Google products do, the UK will surely follow suit soon.
Google+ users that have your business page in their circles are deemed to be interested in your services, for obvious reasons. This influences rankings of websites in organic search for fans or followers, creating personalised search results where favoured websites earn a ranking boost. For example, if you have a comic book business page in one of your circles and then search Google for a specific comic book sold by that company, their website will earn a personalised search boost and will be listed higher in search results pages.
This is potentially the most significant future change for Google to make and, assuming it catches on, will change SEO forever.
So, that concludes my Google+ tips for small businesses. Google+, though still in its relative infancy, is so packed full of potential that with a little creative thinking, the possibilities are almost endless. It’s so simple to create an account that it should be a no-brainer for any small business. Similarly, it belongs to Google. Ergo, its influence over search results is more than likely to continue to grow and, unlike many failed Google products of yesteryear (Buzz, Wave, Hotpot…), this one will stick around as Google charges headfirst into its war with Facebook.