If you’re ignoring Google+ as a business, you’re ignoring Google. Google+ is Google, according to Google. Google+ also provides Google Search a window into our social activity on the web, providing a view that it does not have access to via Facebook or even Twitter. Facebook may have the social network users, but Google+ is growing, and its importance to business goes beyond that.
Social and authorship are two big elements in ranking success these days, and Google+ plays to both of these. The +1 button, which we know influences rankings, is obviously a big part of the Google+ feature set. This is a signal that helps Google determine how good people think a piece of content or a website is, and now, perhaps even a business in general (it’s not a perfect signal, but it’s a signal).
Now, with the launch of Google+ Pages, businesses get to tie the +1’s on their Pages to the +1’s on their site (though this doesn't seem to be working fully just yet), which should send a stronger signal of brand reputation to Google search. If only you could tie your Facebook page likes to it too, that would probably be a much better indicator, but Google does what it can. This is in effect why Google has to have its own social ecosystem - so it can have access to this kind of data. It needs that kind of data to remain relevant and deliver relevant results in an increasingly social world. That’s not to say Google can’t see when people like your page on Facebook. That is public data. I’m guessing Google’s not ignoring that.
On that search note, Google is also giving searchers easy ways to add brands to their circles. You can add from the search result itself, when a Page is returned, or with the “Direct Connect” feature, you can enter a “+” with the Page you’re looking for, as your query:
Businesses can also link their Pages to their AdWords accounts. +1’s there count too.
“The new +1 aggregation may also affect the auction on the display network,” says Pamela Parker, an editor at Search Engine Land. “Google has said it would use +1 data to better target ads on its display network, serving advertisers’ ads more often to friends of those who +1ed the ad or the landing page URL. Presumably, this new way of aggregating +1s for the brand as a whole will make this affect all the more powerful.”
Set up a Page. Local Pages have a little more.
To set up your page, simply sign into your Google+ profile, click “create a Google+ page” on the side of your stream, pick the category of page you want to create, and click “create”. Categories include: Product/brand, Company/institution/organization, local business/place, arts/entertainment/sports, or other.
“Don’t stress out about choosing the perfect category,” Google says. “Use the ‘Other’ category if none of the others seem to be a good fit. The core functionality and discoverability of a page isn’t affected by its category. Right now, only pages that use the Local business or Place category have different features. Local pages are designed to help people locate the business using its physical address.”
Local pages include a map of the business’s location, and include address, phone number/address, and hours of operation.
Pages and profiles can interact with one another, as if they were all profiles. This means, as a Page, you can +1, comment, and reshare posts, add people and pages to circles, start and join hangouts, mention people in posts and comments, and block/ignore people and pages.
“If you're worried about how deeply a page can interact with your Google+ profile, don't be,” the company says. “Unless you show that you're interested in a page by adding it to a circle or mentioning it, there's very little that page can do to reach out to you.”
You can also remove the page from your circles, ignore the page, or block the page if you want to limit its interactivity with your page.
There has been a fair amount of criticism about the limitations of the Pages for business purposes, and rightfully so. Google has kept these away from businesses for months since the launch of Google+, giving the reason that they wanted to get things right, so one would have assumed, they would be right at launch, but clearly there is a lot missing.
The most glaring hole is the lack of being able to let multiple people admin the page (as you can do on Facebook). When Google+ itself launched, it was clear that they borrowed a lot of ideas from Facebook. This is an idea that not only would’ve made sense, but is critical for a company to maintain a brand page as needed. Frankly, it’s pretty astonishing that Pages did not launch with this functionality.
Multiple admin support is said to be coming in the “near future,” so that should be resolved in time.
There are various other bugs that we’ve come across while setting ours up - most notably, circle adding errors. Adding Circles to your Page from those you’ve already created for your personal profile is incredibly cumbersome at times, especially for larger circles. This should all be “seamless” to use a term Google likes to throw around a lot. People have already invested a lot of time into their personal profiles.
The whole thing feels pretty rushed, which is unfortunate, given how critical this could become to businesses.
That brings us to the next section.
Using Google+ for business, beyond Pages
Over 40 million people are already using Google+, according to the latest numbers from the company. Many have not been waiting around for Pages to be launched to reap the business benefits of the network.
In fact, social media industry thought leaders Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki gave an interesting presentation on this subject at BlogWorld last week, prior to the release of Pages.
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Think about those two points. Facebook and Twitter are both pretty widely accepted as being tremendous business tools, and if Kawasaki is right, that can only mean that Google+ is and will be an exceptional business tool. Again - this is before Pages were even announced.
WebProNews interviewed Brogan after the session, and he had some more to say about Google+’s impact on business:“You gotta look at the facts. Google is the number one search engine in the world,” he says. “That Google+ offering is sitting there in the top part of that number one search engine. Gmail is used by millions and millions of customers, all getting advertised for Google+. More Android phones are sold every single day - 500+ units an hour now or something - than iPhones, and all of that is pointing towards getting on this network that is indexed by the number one search engine in the world.”
Well put. I’ll leave you on that note.
And by all means, +1 us.