Google+ isn’t as popular, glamorous or as addictive as Facebook or Twitter, but that doesn’t make it any less important for your business. With more than 1 billion registered users and around 350 million monthly active users, Google+ is a social networking powerhouse.
Apart from the fact that Google owns Google+, there are a number of other reasons why it needs to be an important part of your online marketing plans. Here are a few of them:
- It has more than 300 million monthly active users
- 50 percent of its users sign in everyday
- It is growing at an annual rate of 33 percent
- All Gmail users automatically get Google+ accounts
- It has direct SEO implications
- Google+ posts are indexed by Google directly
So, with all these benefits in mind, how can you, as a small business owner, take advantage from them?
Having recently worked with an e-commerce B2B portal, Quality Trade, I had the chance to closely analyze hundreds of small businesses and how they’re using Google+ for better marketing. Based on that experience, here are a few quick tips to help you leverage the strength of Google+ for your own small business marketing.
In this post you’ll learn how to:
- Build a solid foundation for your business on Google+
- Take advantage of the SEO strength of the platform
- Create the right kind of content that can help you attract more followers and higher search rankings
- Promote your content on Google+ effectively
- Use your G+ profile as a selling platform.
1. Create a Google+ Business Page
You’d need to have a Gmail email address to sign up for Google+. So if you don’t already have a Gmail account, sign up here. Once you sign up for a Gmail account, you can activate your Google+ profile by simply visiting the Google+ website.
With the basics done, you can now turn your attention to building your Google+ Business Page. With a Google+ Business Page, your company would be searchable directly from Google’s search engine. It would also act as the hub for routing all the content related to your company and industry.
To create a Google+ Business Page:
- Visit the Google+ Business Page homepage.
- Click on the “Get your page” button.
- Select the type of business page you want to set up.
- Google will ask you to locate your business on Google Maps. Use the search bar to locate your business. If you don’t find it on Maps, use the “Add your business” option to manually locate your business. The location you choose over here will be displayed with your business in Google’s search results as well.
- Once you locate your business on the map, you’ll be asked to verify your page. Google will mail a unique code to the business address that you mention on your page.
- If you have an official company website, you’ll need to verify it by confirming the unique code sent to your company email address.
Even if you don’t complete the verification process, you’ll be able to use your page. But your business won’t show up in Google’s search results until the verification is completed.
2. Create an SEO-Friendly ‘About Page’ Description
It’s important to create a comprehensive profile in order fully benefit from Google+. Add your company’s logo and a header image. Similarly, add a comprehensive description on your “About page.”
Google+ allows using backlinks with anchor text in the “About page” description. It also allows using bullet points. So make sure you craft a compelling description and link back to your most critical web pages. These links can play a vital role in your overall search engine rankings. Use the bullet point option to structure your content for easy reading.
3. Post Regularly on Google+
A major advantage of using Google+ is that all its posts are indexed and displayed in Google search results. This gives you a great opportunity to get relevant content indexed from your profile and business page, and link it back to your blog or website.
For that, posting regularly to Google+ is very important:
- Use a combination of short and detailed posts on Google+.
- Use the relevant keywords in your headings and content, for which you want to rank.
- Use large images in your updates.
- Link back to relevant blog posts and website pages in each post.
- Use hashtags to expand your reach to relevant audience.
- Mention industry influencers in your content and tag them so that they are notified of your posts.
- Add call to actions in ALL your posts.
- Use a platform like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your Google+ posts according to the highest traffic hours (usually between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) of your target time zone.
Posting regularly on Google+ will get your content indexed much more quickly and make it show up in the search results of all your circles immediately, even if it doesn’t rank highly for public search results.
4. Promote Content Aggressively on Google+
With the above steps, you’ll be ready to push your content aggressively on Google+. There are a number of ways you can promote your content — here are a few of them:
Google+ has thousands of active and vibrant communities where people discuss ideas, problems and different topics related to their industries. Join as many relevant communities as possible and engage with the other members. Ask questions, answer their queries, offer solutions and build your network. Also share your content links where relevant.
- Message Your Circles
You can send direct messages to Google+ users even if you don’t know their email addresses. This gives you an opportunity to approach influential users or people who might have interest in your products or services and build relationships with them.
- Host Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is another great way to get in touch directly with your audience and target customers. Host different webinars or live trainings with Hangouts and submit their recordings to YouTube for public access. This way you can create an effective video library for your followers.
- Encourage Sharing
Add the Google+ sharing buttons and +1 button to your blog and website. When a user +1s your content, it becomes visible in search results of people in his Google+ circles. Similarly, the more +1 a post gets, the higher Google weighs it in terms of quality. You can use services like AddThis and ShareThis to add social media widgets.
5. Drive Sales Leads from Your Google+ Page
For businesses and entrepreneurs, social media is the ideal place to increase engagement with existing and potential customers. However, there are ways you can use your social profiles for directly selling your products and services as well. Of course, you’d need to have an engaged audience to drive sales. But to increase the probability of sales, you also need to make the buying process simple and hassle free.
For selling on Google+, you can free tools like Shopify, E-Junkie or Selz. My personal experience has been great with Selz. Not only is it better suited for social selling because of its attractive visual interface, but also because of the overall buying convenience that it offers. You need to host your products on Selz and share the link on your Google+ page. From there, it takes your buyers directly to the sales checkout page, where they can make the payment using MasterCard, Visa or PayPal. As a seller, you can withdraw payments either to your PayPal account or directly to your U.S. bank account.
You can also use HD video/audio previews in Selz to add further appeal to your product landing page.
In social selling, buying convenience is often the difference between a successful and failed sale. So your aim should be to keep the buying process free of any redirections or complex information requirements.
Google+ has to be a critical component of any social media marketing campaign. As a small business owner, you should leverage this exponentially growing platform to improve your SEO rankings, boost search CTR and engage with relevant communities to market your products and services. At the same time, you can use it as a smart sales platform by routing your followers to your product landing pages. And since sales leads generated from social media websites are generally more engaged, there’s much higher chance of them converting into paid customers.