Sustainable communities are often described as ecosystems in which everyone gets what they want.
This explains why Google+ is steadily gaining momentum for attracting the attention of a wider audience than even Facebook, and quite possibly one that will prove to be more powerful for content marketers
Over the past couple of years we’ve watched as the Google+ community has evolved from predominantly technophiles, to an increasingly mainstream audience that includes regular small business owners like you and me.
In a worldwide web that is driven by content, there are three big reasons why ignoring Google+ any longer is to risk online irrelevance.
#1 – Search Drives the Web
It goes without saying that Google+ should merit your attention simply because Google itself controls approximately 67% of search here in North America; and Google+ is clearly the favorite son of the search giant.
A significant reason for paying particular attention to Google+ is that content mentions within Google+ seem to merit search rankings that are even higher than the original source.
While this is an observation that many of us have noticed in recent months, it turns out there is data to support it. According to Moz.com, the number of plus ones on Google+ rate second only to the overall page authority for determining the search ranking of a site. Is this surprising? It shouldn’t be.
When you consider that Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant search results as quickly as possible, it’s logical that those infused with social context will be more relevant than static content.
#2 – Google+ is An Identity Service
It has been evident for some time that Google+ would prove to be an identity service. The first clue was in 2011 when Google Profiles instantly became Google+ About pages for personal accounts. This was handwriting on the wall for things to come.
Then Google Places became Google+ Local. And most recently, YouTube videos and comments are by default now automatically published to our Google+ profiles.
Are you noticing a trend here?
It is clear that Google+ is the service that will integrate content from all of the Google properties, and by design, as much of everything else as possible.
What’s fascinating is that all of this is being done very quietly, and that may be because the tech oriented Google+ community tends to embrace change. Unlike the Facebook community, the general thinking seems to be: “let’s see what we can do with this.”
The bottom line is unlike Facebook, the Google+ community trusts Google+. This all dates back to the beginning when Googlers (Google employees) were active on the platform for the specific purpose of learning how to improve the Google+ learning experience.
This collaborative approach is one that you may wish to consider for your business in 2014. It’s certainly part of my strategy.
#3 – Social Context is Authority
One of the recent search benefits that enhances the Google+ social experience are the automatic hashtags. Some people are using hashtags and others are not. Therefore, Google+ is taking the liberty of appending your content with a hashtag to give that content some searchable context.
Make it your business to pay attention to which hashtags Google+ decides are relevant – and why. This will not only help you to better choose hashtags for Google+, but also for other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
It seems logical that there are topic areas that Google would like to drive more traffic to. This is the win-win. If several hashtags seem appropriate for your content, why not use the one Google+ chooses to establish your authority by having your content rank more highly?
Additionally, if you have not yet activated Google Authorship you will want to make that a priority. Here is a quote from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt on why you should claim authorship of your original content.
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified results). The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
It stands to reason that relevant hashtags attached to your Google+shared content will further define your authority as a subject matter expert in those specific areas.
SEO used to be about links and keywords. Now Google+ is layering in Authorship, shares, +1′s, and relevant hashtags to provide additional social context to that content marketing equation.
I couldn’t be more excited about Google+. How about you? Please leave a comment to share.
2014 may be the last opportunity to dedicate resources currently allocated to other channels to make the most of the Google+ opportunity before it ignites.
All the best for an outstanding New Year!
About the Author: Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)
He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.