This article originally appeared on Guardian Media Network and is published here with full permission:
When you think about your website’s SEO, you think about Google. Sure, you might do a quick check over at Yahoo and Bing to make sure what you’re doing works there too but let’s face it, your SEO tactics are pretty Google-centric. When you want a new site recognised, you have to tell Google about it. You register the URL with them, invite a bit of googlebot crawling and wait to see the results.
For me, one of the fundamental things to remember about Google+ is that it lets Google know your pages are there. At the basic level, you should have Google+, along with StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, Zootool and Diigo as one of the social bookmarking sites that need to know about your content. Admittedly these aren’t the strong back links that you get from a high-ranking site like the Guardian for example, but they are important none the less.
So, lesson one: make your content shareable on Google+. In the same way that you add “like” and “tweet this” buttons, include “+1″ as an option – it may not be in your communications plan yet, but G+ should at least be in your SEO one.
What about the platform itself? There have been many articles written about how unpopular Google+ is as a social network. However, let’s face it, that’s what makes a great headline. The truth is a little muddier and a little less predictable. Social networking is not a new thing; the online community has been engaging in it for years through chat rooms, online gaming and so on. Mainstream social networking for those outside of the tech community is relatively new in comparison.
With this in mind, it’s worth remembering that it took Facebook a little longer than G+ has been around to catch up with Myspace. We’re all talking about Pinterest and Instagram but they have far fewer numbers and are limited in that they’re predominantly image based interactions. Add that to the fact that Google themselves are promoting G+ as a hub for Google services rather than a social network and the water just keeps getting muddier.
So, do you need to have a Google+ page as part of your communications plan? Any social network is time consuming to get right so ask yourself: is your audience there? Are your competitors there? What will you be able to get out of it? Many organisations jump on a network because they feel they should be there without taking the time to work out if their audience is active on that network. Worse still, people write off social networking because they think it’s just for teenagers – WRONG.
If you’re unsure about any of the above, that’s fine. Don’t add Google+ to your marketing strategy just yet. However, don’t let it fall off your radar – you may not need a corporate profile but you do need to understand it and be ready to include it if and when the time is right.
Also, why not use it for internal comms? Hangouts are great for conference calling, interviewing, and talking to colleagues in other offices. The events function is easy to use, well designed and integrates with Google Calendar, so use it for arranging meetings and sharing pictures from office events, product launches etc. This will not only be useful, it will ensure that if and when you do go live with G+ for comms, your staff know and enjoy using it.
I am a tart when it comes to technology and I play with and test things mercilessly until I can confirm their usefulness. At the moment I’m getting a lot out of using Google+. It’s maybe not exactly where it needs to be and not all businesses will find it essential, but that’s the same for any network. It is definitely worth the watching (as my mum would say).
How have you used Google+ and how do you find it?
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