Is your business on Google+? If so, how often does your brand post to this social channel? Setting up a basic Google+ account is a good start, but having an account is not enough to reap the full SEO benefits of the platform. Having a presence on Google+ without actively posting to the channel can actually hurt your brand.
Ranking Factors: Google+ SEO
It should come as no surprise that Google ranks activity on Google+ highly in search rankings. Although Google hasn’t officially stated that Google+ is part of their algorithm, it’s clear this channel has a significant effect on rankings. In this blog we’re going to explain why.
First, we looked at how often Google+ is crawled by search engines compared to other social channels. It turns out that it’s hard to beat!
Unlike other social channels, the content on Google+ is crawled almost immediately. This data is then used in real-time to provide search results for users. Brands looking to share timely and relevant content, as well as increase reach and awareness are well served by Google+.
In addition, search results are now including “Recent posts on Google+.” The example below shows the right-hand side of the Google results page when the term “Nike” is searched. You can see that “Recent posts on Google+” are clearly emphasized directly in the search results.
The bottom line? Google+ is important in real-time search results.
But Wait! There’s More!
There are more than 550 million active monthly users on Google+. And we know Google+ users are active only seven minutes a month (coming in far behind the more than six hours a month users spend on Facebook); but don’t let those numbers keep you from including this channel in your social media strategy.
Just take a look at recent statistics from Forrester Research, Inc. about brand engagement across Facebook, Google+ and Twitter:
Forrester studied more than 3 million interactions on more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social channels. The results? Google+ had nearly twice as much engagement as Twitter and came very close to the engagement of Facebook.
The bottom line? Engagement on Google+ is extremely high for time spent in Google+.
The Six Google+ Must Haves
Surely by now you’re convinced you should start posting more to Google+! Remember that it is important to take the time to properly setup your Google+ account. There are six main items to optimize:
1. Profile Picture: Use an image that is consistent across all of your channels.
2. Tagline: Using keywords, write a short explanation of your brand. Note: This is your meta-description when your Google+ account appears in search results.
3. Introduction: Create an overview of your company. Since this is lengthier than the tagline, be sure to incorporate several keywords.
4. Contact Information: Provide all of your details: address (this will bring up a map in search results), phone number and hours (if applicable).
5. Links: List links for all of your social media channels. You can get creative and list additional items (see HubSpot’s examples below for more ideas).
6. Custom URL: Instead of having Google+ dictate the url for your account, request a custom url.
The bottom line? Take the time to fully set up your Google+ account to take advantage of the features it offers.
Using Hashtags in Google+
Hashtags were made commonplace when Twitter arrived on the social scene. Facebook has tried to incorporate them, but haven’t been nearly as successful. Now with Google+, we are seeing even more applications of hashtags.
Similar to Twitter, hashtags can be used to search for specific topic areas. Google+ takes it a step further with their “Explore” feature to help identify additional areas of interest. Below you can see an example of what hashtags Google+ presents when exploring “#digitalmarketing.”
Using the Explore feature, you can apply additional hashtags to your content to expand your brand’s reach. Google+ also has an auto-suggest function to provide suggestions as you are inputting hashtags.
Trending hashtags are also highlighted:
The bottom line? You can extend your reach with smart use of hashtags #FTW!
Successful Brands are Already Using Google+
It’s always helpful to see how successful brands are using specific social media channels. Here are a couple of examples of companies we think who successfully leverage Google+:
With over 8 million followers, Android is doing something right. Their posts are highly visual, including either imagery or videos. They are also consistently incorporating hashtags to engage their followers and attract new followers.
With a focus on fashion, H&M does an impressive job of monitoring their Google+ channel to encourage conversations and actively engage with their audience.
The bottom line? Feel brazen. Emulate the big brands with big budgets to boost your confidence. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Mambo’s Final Thoughts on Google+
Brands are finding it more and more difficult to out think their competition when it comes to social media marketing.
With Google+ still being ignored by many brands, this may very well be the channel for savvy brands to outpace their competitors.
Take the time to understand how your audience interacts with Google+; optimize your account for keywords (and juicy SEO!); build a smart content strategy to engage your audience; build your brand’s audience by exploring hashtags and you’ll be well on your way to moving ahead of your competition.
For more information on creating social media strategies for Google+, refer to our blog post on Using Google+ for SEO.
Mambo Media offers social media strategy, implementation and optimization as well as team trainings.