So far Google’s social networking service looks rather poor when compared to Facebook, the industry’s king. “Only” 62 million users have a Google Plus account (source), whereas the same number for Facebook is 800 million.
However, despite that, it is worth including Google+ in your online marketing activities. Why?
Google uses the power of its search engine (with 84.72% global and 83.18% U.S. market share, source) to promote its social networking service. Both the number of “+1’s” (equivalents of “Likes” on Facebook) and the fact of having a company profile positively influence the position in search results.
It has been possible to set up company profiles on Google+ since November 2011. Of course, there was no point in reinventing the wheel, which is why they look fairly similar to Facebook pages. As far as their functions are concerned, they are not particularly developed but this will probably be changing as the website will be developing.
While setting up a company or brand page on Google+ we should not be delusional and think that it will soon become that important as a Facebook page. Perhaps this will be the case one day. For the time being, however, we should treat the company profile as a tool to support SEO.
Click here to set up your company’s page on Google+. Of course, you first need to have your own account (personal profile) and be logged in.
1. Define an appropriate title, slogan and description.
In Google search results (SERP), the title of Google+ page will be displayed in the place for website titles, whereas the slogan and description of the Google+ page will be displayed under the title, in the place for website descriptions. From SEO perspective, the most important part of the slogan and description are the first 150 characters.
There is no need to reduce the content to this value as all in all the whole of it will be displayed on Google+ page. It is just good to remember that the most important keywords are there in that first part.
When compared to Facebook, a useful facility is the WYSIWYG editor, which you use to provide the description. It enables you to accurately format the text and above all to include links.
2. Design an attractive avatar.
The upper left-hand corner – as is the case on Facebook and the majority of websites – is the place for a logo. This is the space which the visitors’ eyes see first. In this fraction of a second you have to make a positive impression so please make sure you do not cut out in haste a square with a logo if you have no graphic experience.
A logo must be surrounded by a protection area and, what is important, must be easily scaled to look presentable as a small square displayed next to posts.
3. Add links.
Under the description you will find a field for the URL of your company website. But do not limit yourself only to that. In “Recommended Links” section you can add more links and please do so.
This is an excellent place for your Facebook page, blog, Twitter account, product pages and even your partners’ websites.
4. Add images.
Your Google+ page will look empty without additional images and so use the space under the slogan which is reserved for five miniature images. Show logos or packages of your products, sales graphs, pictures of your office, employees or anything else that could help promote your company’s offer or image.
If you have graphic skills (or a graphic designer) you can prepare the five images in such a way that the miniatures compose one piece of graphic.
A real challenge is to expand this idea with an animation, as in here.
5. Verify the page.
Google+ pages have been displayed in Google search results since 17 November 2011. When you enter a company (or brand) name with a preceding plus sign (e.g. “+brandon line guide”) into the search engine you see a Google+ page displayed in the first position.
But that can happen only if the ownership of the page – i.e. how the Google+ page is connected with the company website – is verified.
In order to verify this connection:
– include a link to your company website on your Google+ page (see point 3)
– include the following code in your company website header:
<link href="https://plus.google.com/ID" rel="publisher" />
(the ID is in the address of your Google+ page) – alternatively, you can include a Google+ badge (which you can get <a href=”https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/badge/config” target=”_blank”>here</a>) on your company website.
6. Start publishing content.
A page without entries will not reflect well on your company. Create at least some entries before you start promoting the page and invite users.
Afterwards, as on Facebook, you do not necessarily have to publish the content frequently but you have to do it in an interesting way. Use as many links and multimedia as possible.
7. Add to circles.
There are no “friends” in Google+. You can add a selected person or website to circles without their approval and the person does by no means have to do the same in return. Thanks to that it is more neutral to add a person in this way than to invite friends on Facebook.
Only a private profile can add to circles. That is why make sure you treat your profile as a professional one, send a lot of invitations to circles and make available a lot of entries from the page.
It will certainly do no harm to ask your company employees to add the company Google+ page to their circles. That is a good start when you want to build a social network.
At the very beginning it will be good to hide the number of users who have your page in their circles. A small number will not look encouraging.
On your page, in the left-hand column under the logo, find a “Change who is visible here” link and tick the appropriate checkboxes.
Google will certainly develop its social networking service, introduce new functionalities and integrate it with its other services. When a lot of new possibilities appear, I will surely write about them.
In the meantime visit my Google+ page.