Leveraging Google+ for Your Business

Is a substantial portion of Facebook’s 700 million users suffering from “Facebook fatigue”?  While the site is the runaway bestseller in terms of usage, there are signs that fans are getting a little less enthralled with online socializing; in North America, where use is most heavily saturated, Facebook lost 7 million active users.  One user said, “It’s really gotten to a point where I know pretty much what my friends are going to post.  They usually just write the same thing over and over again, and I am getting sick of that.”  As timing would have it, Google+ is stepping into the fray , hoping to freshen things up.

At present, Google+ has about 10 million users; while paltry compared to Facebook, it is a respectable – and growing – number.  Early on, Google asked businesses to stay out while they introduced the social networking platform, and only a few select companies got an invite to see how the site would play out for business.  Google indicates that it wants to launch a business version later this year, but looking ahead, many SEOs and businesses are seeing benefits to focusing on Google’s playground instead of Facebook (or, at least, in addition to).

One advantage, pointed out by e-business guru Paul Wallbank, is that Google+ has a better handle on privacy.  With Circles, for instance, you can limit what you share and pass information between select people, including staff, contractors, or bosses.  Wallbank says, “Just this feature alone makes it worthwhile for many businesses to experiment with the service.”  Other features, such as drag-and-drop for your friends’ list add usability to the service and give users something that Facebook does not (yet?).

When Google does release a business-oriented version, be ready to jump on it.  Solid SEO best practices apply:  it is a good idea, for instance, to do a bit of social media marketing and optimise your profile with business-related keywords.  Other tips:

·         Modify privacy settings so your profile is open to the public.  This way, search engines can crawl the site and index it, boosting your visibility.

·         Focus on building your Circles component.  Google+’s communities are expected to be more like LinkedIn’s than Facebook’s; that is, you can assemble like-minded people and potential customers around common ground.

·         Add the +1 to your main website and encourage visitors to recommend, or +1, your content.

·         Be “shareable.”  Engage visitors with content that is funny, interesting, relevant, unexpected, informational, or otherwise worthy of their time.

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