January 28, 2014
There is a perception in some circles that Google+ is a failed social network, an experiment by the search giant gone wrong resulting in a space filled mostly with the Internet equivalent of tumbleweeds.
In fact, the statistics consistently show that this is not the case, and anyone who regularly uses Google+ will see healthy and thriving communities engaging, sharing and building relationships globally, with a particular emphasis on the emerging market countries, with apps and through mobile.
Google+ continues to show steady growth in numbers of active users and is increasingly becoming an essential and core platform for businesses as part of their integrated content marketing, search, SEO and social media strategies.
From a numbers perspective, latest figures indicate Google+ may not appear to have the reach of a social network like Facebook but, in fact, it is growing so quickly that predictions have it overtaking Facebook in the next year or two.
However, this is not just about numbers. Google+ and the ever-increasing Google product list provides far greater reach and a more personal experience for its users and directly or indirectly affects the lives of billions of people, brands and global organizations alike.
Google+ Integration Checklist
The insatiable appetite of Google to invest in innovation, product development and cross platform technology reinforces its superior position as a truly integrated experience for its users. Check out this ‘101 Google product’ ( resource and see what you are missing out on.
For this and many other reasons, many predict that Google+ is on track to surpass Facebook and other social networks and become the main platform in the future for both businesses and individual users.
Tens of millions of users are moving away from Facebook each month due to boredom, privacy issues and lack of interest. Furthermore, people are fed up with Facebook throttling the life out of business owners and reducing organic reach for posts, choosing instead to charge businesses for their posts to be seen by their customers.
As a business platform, the infrastructure for Google+ is way ahead of other social networking platforms. While not every business needs a Twitter or Facebook account, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to maintain an adequate presence online without an integrated Google account — and this will show no sign of letting up.
Cross Platform Domination by Google
Google’s cross platform integration is already evident as it slowly integrates its products across Google+, Analytics, AdWords, Gmail, Drive, YouTube, Authorship, Chrome, Android, Play, Maps, Local, Web Search and more.
Consider this: Every purchase of an Android phone activates a new Google+ account and, with Google Mobile integration now an integral part of Webmaster Tools as well as search and page speed analysis tools, business owners must integrate the Google suite of tools into their cross platform strategies to remain competitive.
With Google tying in their YouTube platform to Gmail — a move designed to eliminate spam comments and hold users accountable for what they post, Google+ is increasingly becoming the social platform glue that will hold everything together.
With authorship and content now inextricably linked and, with more to come, it has never been a better time for business owners and webmasters to get aboard the Google juggernaut and develop their digital content, mobile, search and social strategies to provide meaningful customer experience and real value to a global audience.
Below I have listed some of the benefits and features of Google+ available to both businesses and individuals:
Google+ Features: Something for Everyone
There is little question that Google+ is a superior platform for businesses. If you’re a business, setting up a business page is almost mandatory; it ensures better ranking in search results with established SEO benefits if set up correctly. This does not mean you will rank higher by default if you have a Google business page.
Think algorithm updates such as Hummingbird, content, authorship, engagement, cross-platform social sharing and the search benefits of your Google+ presence will then become more obvious.
All of the content and commenting will be indexed, so it is important to take ownership through proper authorship and by building out a professional profile that reflects your brand. Encouraging engagement, +1’s and shares can inevitably boost your website rank and visibility on search engines.
- A Google+1 button on a company’s website will encourage visitors to follow that business and will appear in search results linked to the business. Google+ also prompts users to write reviews of businesses that have a page.
- Hangouts On Air — Hangouts allow up to 10 people to videochat simultaneously. With more people, hangouts can be broadcast worldwide for free and stream using YouTube.
- Google Helpouts — Helpouts is a recent addition to the Google portfolio that comfortably bolts into the Google+ platform and provides either a free or paid service whereby you can connect live with an expert anywhere in the world for a Q & A session.
- Google Circles — Circles make it easier for Google users to separate and communicate with different groups other than Facebook, and they also make it possible for someone to follow another user without that following being reciprocal.
Circles also allow you to segment content to your chosen audience (or shared circles), so relevant and meaningful circle creation will allow you to reach the intended audience, delivering the right message to the right people.
- Google+ Communities offer a place for every member to post, share, ask questions and comment on community-related content. There are private and public communities and choosing which communities should be considered carefully as content will appear in search in public but not in private.
- Photos and Video – Google+ provides a rich platform for photos and video with a whole slew of enhanced editing features. Although everyone seems to be uploading their vacation photos to Facebook these days, the photo offerings for Google+ are much more robust.
From larger cover images to useful search features to Auto Awesome Video, — which trumps Facebook’s ‘Year in Review’ by putting significant photos in a video montage overlaid with an audio track — the options are more useful and more inventive.
- Google+ Direct Connect — This is a very powerful feature that allows people to add you to circles straight from Google search. To be eligible, you will need to have authorship set up correctly on your website and Google+ profile.
- Google+ SEO Strategy – Experts are divided on the different types of benefits Google+ has on an SEO Strategy, however, the diverse range of social signals generated within the Google+ social platform, provide a much deeper level of content authority and Google is now looking to content in delivering its search results.
Facebook currently feels so much a part of our everyday lives that it seems unstoppable, but just a few short years ago, most of us did not have a Facebook account.
The site has continued to grow not due to a company tuned into the wants and needs of its user base but because of sheer inertia; people want to keep in touch with family and friends, and Facebook is the place where most of those family and friends hang out.
If the world of the 21st century is a fast-changing one, the Internet changes even more quickly. What seems ubiquitous today is just as easily gone tomorrow.
As Google+ continues to innovate, Facebook worries about how to mine more data from its users and charge for greater exposure.
The focus of Google+ on maximizing its experience for both businesses and individuals will contribute to its continued rise and result in its global supremacy as a social media platform in the coming years.
What are your thoughts on Google+ as a social media platform for businesses? What new features would you like to see Google roll out?
Steve Minks is the co-founder of IceSugarMedia and brings more than 25 years of IT and digital expertise with a background in property development, telecoms and as an accredited health and fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, functional exercise, visiting historical places and spending time with his family.