Today I’d like to talk about one of Google’s most underrated creations, something that is often overlooked when creating a website or looking at a firm’s web presence. It’s an easy and free way to improve your visibility on Google. I am speaking about Google+.
Google’s social venture
Originally created back in 2011, Google launched itself as a competitor to the most prolific social media platform on the web – Facebook. This direct head-to-head matchup between the two giants created quite a stir online and Google+ saw a meteoric rise in popularity – the fastest of any social network in history. This was of course fuelled not only by the publicity of its launch, but also by Google pushing many users of its other services onto Google+, sometimes even forcibly so.
However, despite this surge in new users, Google+ failed to make headway against the already-established Facebook and within a matter of months Google+ acquired a reputation as a social media ghost town. Although that’s not strictly true as the platform still manages to keep a tight nucleus of “tech evangelicals”, particularly in the USA, many marketers today will suggest that Google+ is not a good platform to invest in. However, we are talking about Google here – the world’s biggest search engine – and naturally there are some very significant SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits to being on the platform.
SEO – it’s vital in the Internet Age
In today’s tech-savvy age, the first point of contact for anyone looking for new professional services is likely to be the Internet. Even if you come recommended, it is very likely that before potential new clients even contact you, they will do a Google search on you or your firm. This has led to one of the most intricate and complicated niches in Internet marketing – search engine optimisation (SEO).
Getting your website to rank high and be more noticeable on search engines can be an expensive process, mainly due to frequent changes in the algorithms that determine your ranking– but there is a way to achieve good results at zero cost. In the South African market Google had a mammoth 93% of all search traffic in 2015, and thus Google search results tend to be the main focus locally. Google+ is often neglected due to its low level of user engagement, but it is a free and easy-to-implement solution that dramatically improves your visibility on Google search.
So here’s my recommendation: Stand out from the crowd and get your firm onto Google+ now.
Google+ joins the Dots
Your Google+ profile acts as the core around which Google’s information about you and your firm is centered – your website, location, contact details, reviews and also your social media activity is all linked by this one profile. Now Google+ is not the only way Google gets all this information, but it is the easiest way to bring it all together. As a result, when you register your firm on Google+, it provides you with the following benefits:
- You get to verify your business and its location on Google. Google will send a postcard to your address to confirm your location as authentic.
- Any reviews, comments and other Google+ activity can show up with the search results, and the results are personalised for the searcher, based partially on their own Google+ profile.
- Your contact details, location and branding are all immediately more prominent whenever someone searches for your business on Google.
Your visibility will surge – for free
Larger firms spend a fortune on increasing their online visibility – for good reason.
Take a look for example at these screenshots of what pops up when you search for “dotnews” on Google:
Figure 1: The information in the right hand column next to the search results are all drawn automatically from your Google+ profile. Potential clients have instant access to your website and to Google Maps directions to your office.
Figure 2: On mobile the advantages are even more pronounced. Your profile displays at the top of the search results – Viewing your website, calling or getting directions to your Firm is just one click away for potential clients.
Tips for keeping your Google+ Page engaging
So how do you drive engagement on a platform so few people actively use? Firstly, by including links to your Google+ business page on your website, your newsletter, your email signatures and anywhere else you can think of – making it easy for people to access it is very important. Another great idea is to reuse your client newsletter or blog posts on social media. If you are like most small to medium firms and struggle with the cost and resources it takes to produce good content, you might want to look at our client newsletter services. If you are managing multiple social media accounts there are tools that will automatically post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn with one click. My personal favourite is Buffer, but there are a wide variety of tools to choose from.
The Upshot for Independent Firms
Where this is great for small to medium sized professional firms is it’s all for free. You don’t have to pay thousands of Rands to make sure that your website is stacked with thousands of keywords to rise in the rankings.
Instantly when someone searches for your business they see your brand, they see where you are and you have visibility – immediately giving your firm credibility in the potential client’s eyes and giving you visibility equal to (or possibly greater, if they are not on Google+) to larger firms who have traditionally spent thousands on their SEO strategy.
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.