Google+ Now Accepting Businesses
Make no mistake about it; most business owners who are already connected on Google+ have been patiently waiting for Google+ to accept brands and businesses. Most tech-savvy business owners have long-since made the investment into their Facebook Fanpages, using the World’s most popular social network to increase their overall marketshare. Google+ is a direct response to the success of Facebook, ultimately being the driving force behind Google’s new sharing-centric social network.
Google+ Pages Features for Brands and Businesses
Google released this short video that sums up the features on the new Google+ Pages. Most notably, the business pages provide for a much needed local citation, including business name, address, web address, phone, fax, email and more. While this information is certainly useful, it does not replace the all-so-important Google Places. The value of a Google+ Page is four key components:
- Google+ Direct Connect – Similar to Twitter hashtags, Google+ Direct Connect provides your page with a “short tag” for users to find your Google page. For example, searching for “+pepsi” on Google will take you to Pepsi’s Google+ Page. This feature is still in development, and won’t be available to all businesses until a future and unspecified time. Prominent companies and Pages can take advantage of this feature now, although “Google+ Direct Connect is determined algorithmically, based on certain signals we use to help understand your page’s relevancy and popularity.“
- Hangouts – This is the “wow factor” that Google+ boasts. Upon entering a hangout, users are instantly connected with up to 9 additional users for a free video conference chat. Possible uses include question and answer forums, product training, and even business-related conference meetings.
- +1 Button – This is the “game changer” for how Google search engine optimization works. +1’s are essentially votes of confidence, much like Facebook’s “Like” feature. However, Google +1’s directly affect your overall search engine position for your website, as well as moving your website up higher for the people who are connected in your Google+ network.
- Circles – This is a lesser documented feature; however it has tremendous value for market analysis. Through the effective use of Circles, it is very easy to segment your market and effectively deploy a micro-targeting campaign. Very cool stuff!
To showcase the new features, the Google team has shared a Circle on the new Google+ platform that demonstrates the new page capabilities for 33 of Google’s most widely used applications such as Gmail and Maps. You can view the Google Circle for Pages+ here.
Why Businesses Should Care about Google+
By the numbers, Google’s search engine is used the most, with thousands of searches performed every second. If you haven’t been following the recent “farmer / panda” changes, or heard of the up-and-coming Yandex machine-learning search engine, Google has publicly stated that social metrics are a considerable ranking factor. The shift from traditional affordable search engine optimization is upon us, where no longer
will it be important for business owners to build countless backlinks, but rather engage and compel users into sharing their content through the use of social media networks.
While it is too soon to say what the exact ramifications of the new Google+ for businesses will be, if Google follows their historical approach, it won’t be long until the Google+ pages are fully integrated with the myriad other popular Google web services.
Google Places versus Google+ Pages: What’s the Difference?
Many local businesses have already claimed their free Google Places profile, often referred to as a Google map listing. At the time of writing this, Google Places and Google+ Pages are managed independently of one another. Google Places, or map listings, are geared towards helping consumers find the location and services provided by a local business. On the other end of the spectrum,
Google+ Pages act as a tool for local business owners to build relationships and directly interact with their customers.
Creating a Google+ Page for Your Business
The process of creating a Google+ Page for businesses is relatively straight-forward. Once you are logged in to your Google+ account at http://plus.google.com, scroll down and look for the blue button, “Create a Google+ Page.” From here, you will have the option to create a Page for your local business, product or brand, organization, entertainment group, or anything else that falls in to the “other” category. After you have selected the appropriate business classification and entered in your pertinent details, you will be forwarded to the next pages where you can upload your logo and invite friends to your new page.
The Future of Google+ Pages for Business
There is no question about it, Google+ was launched to compete with the success of Facebook. In only a few short months after its public launch, Google+ has sky-rocketed to over 10 million users already. Go now, and take the time to create your Google+ Page!