Learning how to use google plus for business is not difficult but it may take some time to get results, especially if you are not familiar or using Google+ for personal use. Nevertheless, I consider Google plus a must use tool for every online business and as I will explain below, it certainly worth the effort.
What is Google+? A quick intro for beginners
Everybody knows Facebook and Twitter but not all people know that Google since 2011 has its own social network, Google+. To use Google plus you need to have a Google account (gmail). If you already have a gmail, then you also have a google+ account, look for the + sign next to your name in the top right corner.
Like Facebook, Google+ can be used for both personal and business use. If you choose to use Google plus for business, you need to first create a personal google plus account and then a google plus business page for your business.
Google plus uses the same concepts as all other social networks, in other words you need to share interesting posts on your profile so that more and more people will follow you and interact with your posts. Some of your posts will get more attention than others and will be shown to a greater number of people. A percentage of those who see your posts will visit your website or online business to find out more about you and your business.
Why brands and businesses should use Google+
A business should use social networks for 5 major reasons:
- To raise brand awareness
- To get more visits / make more sales
- To spread the word about new products or services faster
- For social proof
- It’s the latest trend
Over and above those reasons, businesses should use Google+ because:
1. It’s good for Google SEO – Google may officially deny that social signals are used for rankings (and that includes their social network as well) but in my opinion the more information they have about a webpage (especially about businesses that sell online), the better is for that business because it helps in establishing trust which is one of the factors why a website may rank better than others.
2. It’s good for local SEO – Local businesses have many more reasons to use Google+ since it’s a great way to provide Google with more details about your local business such as location, contact details, services offered etc. When you do everything correctly your will get a nice snippet with information about your business on the right side of Google when someone searches for your business name.
See the example below from a client that is taking advantage of Google+ for business.
Check out our local seo checklist for more tips when optimizing for local seo.
3. It’s good for your adwords campaigns – When you run campaigns on adwords and you have a Google plus business page with more than 100 followers and updated content, adwords may show your number of followers and +1s in your ad and this will drive more interaction and attention.
Find out more about Google plus page endorsements here
4. It’s good for your brand and online reputation – Businesses that do not fall in the category of local businesses i.e. they do not serve customers in a physical location are considered as brands.
Brands can also get their company information in the right hand of Google if they have a Google+ Business page with more than 1000 followers that is updated with high quality posts related to their niche.
5. It gives you the ability to explore new advertising options – Businesses with more than 1000 followers can also take advantage of +Post Ads, promote hangouts on air and automatic posts.
Does Google plus for businesses work?
All the above advantages of Google plus are great for businesses but does it work for real?
Many people refer to Google+ as the ghost town while others make speculations that Google will shut down Google+ but the truth, in my opinion, is somewhere in the middle. As Mark Traphagen mentioned in one of his posts, Google plus will not die but may change. Nevertheless, living or dead, Google+ can generate some good results especially for businesses.
Local businesses can benefit from providing more information to their customers and brands from having an additional channel to find more customers online.
Google+ for Business Success Stories
Last year, I created a post about the most popular google+ pages for SEO and these are still great examples of online brands that take advantage of Google+. You can see the number of followers, views but also interactions with the pages.
How do you get more followers to your Google+ business page?
So, it is clear that you need to have a lot of followers to your Google+ business page if you want to take advantage of Google+ for business. You need at least 100 for getting your G+ business page link with your CPC ads and you need over 1000 followers to be eligible for +post ads and knowledge graph.
The question is how you get people to follow your Google+ business page?
Well, the procedure is similar to gaining fans for your facebook business page with the exception that you cannot run campaigns for the purpose of getting new followers as you can do with the Facebook Advertising platform.
The number of followers you can get depends on the time and effort you devote to Google plus, the popularity of your niche and of course the quality of your posts.
A 10 step process
To demonstrate the process, I will use the Google+ business page of a brand. As you can see below the page has more than 1000 followers, more than two million views and more than 3500 +1s.
Once you create your business page make sure that you add a nice cover image and your logo. Making a first good impression is important so spend some time thinking what to add and what message you want to pass to your readers and potential followers of the page.
Step 2: Verify your business page and get your custom URL
You can verify your page by following the instructions here. Once the page is verified claim your custom URL as well. When you do everything correctly a checkmark will appear next to your website’s url and your google+ page url will become friendlier. For example this is the url of a page before and after getting the custom url:
Step 3: Complete your profile
Make sure that you write a description about your business, products and services in the ABOUT section and also that you verify your contact information.
In the links section, you can add a link to your website and also to your other social media pages.
Step 4: Add the Google+ badge to your website
It makes sense to add the google+ badge to your website so that your readers/customers can start following your business page. You can create the badge in different types and sizes by using this official tool from Google.
Step 5: Start posting!
What to post?
- Information about your business, products or services from your website.
- Posts from your business blog (see also: Why every business needs a blog)
- Useful information (Tips, advice, how-to articles) related to your niche from other websites
How often should you post?
Google recommends posting frequently but not everything at the same time. The minimum postings you should do per day is 1, if you have more time or resources you can do 2 or 3 at different time intervals.
What is the best format for your posts?
- Use a title (make it bold by adding * at the beginning and end of title)
- Write a post description
- Insert a big image
- Insert the URL to the source
- Add hashtags
Step 6: Start following other interesting pages/people
In the language of Google+ following is ‘adding to circles’ people or pages you find interesting and are related to your niche.
You can only follow approx. 50 people per day so be selective on who to follow. You can find new people to follow by looking at the followers of other related brands or by searching using the Google+ search box for keywords related to your niche.
Step 7: +1, Share, Comment on other pages
The best way to get noticed on any social network is to interact with other users by liking, sharing and commenting on their content. Some of them will start following you and some of them will start interacting with your posts as well.
Step 8: Perform regular account maintenance
It is important to keep your following/followers ratio in balance so make sure that you periodically do a clean-up of your account and unfollow some of the people that don’t follow you back and also follow those that have already added you in their circles.
Step 9: Use your personal account to promote your business page
Your personal account has less restrictions (on the number of people you can follow/unfollow) so it is easier to build a following. A good practice is to promote your business page using your personal account. This means that you will post something on your business page and share it with your personal account.
Step 10: Be patient – it takes time to grow a following
You will not get a lot of followers or interactions from day one. You need to consistently work on your profile and measure progress. Once you get a few hundred followers you will notice that everything becomes easier.
Google+ may not be the most popular social network but it’s easy to use, fun and business oriented. If you are a small business owner you can use Google+ for business and take advantage of the benefits explained above.
If you don’t have the spare time or you are still not sure how to do it, you can let us run your google+ campaigns.
Follow me on Google+ as well!