Over the past couple years Google Plus has made several changes–and not just frustrating changes, like the header image dimensions. They’ve also done quite a few things to encourage more use of the social network.
For example, they’ve integrated social into search. Pages that have been +1’d are given higher placement than similarly ranked paged without the social validation. Also, pages that have been +1’d by your friends are given higher placement when you search than similarly ranked pages. What does this mean for your website? It means that it is in your best interest to share content on Google Plus and to add those “+1” buttons to all your pages for people to help promote your content.
Also, on the subject of search engine rankings, you can also optimize by using the rel=author attribute on your blog posts and articles. This lets Google know that your story was written by someone with a Google Plus profile and displays their photo next to the link in the Google search results, which adds credibility to your content. There are a number of articles on how to set this up, but if you’re using WordPress for your blog, check out our article on our very helpful directions to set this up on your WordPress site: How to Set up rel=author for Google+ SEO in Complicated WordPress Themes.
Google Plus has added an area known as Communities for members to meet other people with similar interests. This is yet another thing that makes Google Plus more than just the ugly step-sister to Facebook. Communities seem to bridge the gap between LinkedIn Groups and Facebook pages, in that they’re a place to interact with people with whom you share both professional and personal interests. You can join communities about anything from HTML5 to Disc Golf!
Although this isn’t exactly a feature of Google Plus, one really important thing that has changed since 2011 is the number of active users on the network. According to Business Insider, Google Plus is the Number 2 Social Network, behind Facebook. While the analytics behind “active users” can be a little misleading (for example, Twitter may have fewer active users, but they are probably more engaged), this is still evidence enough that you can’t and shouldn’t write off Google Plus.
What does all this mean for your business?
It means that as much as you may want to, you need to continue (or start) using Google Plus at your organization. Here are some ideas for doing so:
- Create communities around your company’s branding. Whether it’s your mascot, your colors, your products, your services or the lifestyle that your brand promotes, people want to be involved with you on this network
- Keep your page updated. Just like the other social networks, be sure to share news from your organization, interesting content on your site and relevant curated content from around the web.
- Set up those cute little +1’s all over your site. This will help others share your content in the way that is easiest for them, and you reap the SEO rewards from it.
- Set up rel=author for your articles and posts. Again, this will help your SEO as well as lend you an extra level of credibility with those photos pop up alongside your google search results.
- Actively let people know you are on Google Plus. There’s no sense in hiding it. The more people in your circles who circle you back and read your content, the more likely it is to get shared, which again, helps your SEO.
Stay tuned for more posts about social media this month! And don’t forget to find us on Google Plus!