After two failed attempts by Google to compete in the social realm, the search engine giant may have finally gotten it right.
With more than 100 million users (as of February 2012), Google+ has exceeded all industry expectations and has grown into a force to be reckoned with. And just a few months after Google+ was thrust upon the public domain, there was more exciting news with the introduction of Google+ for business. This long-awaited service enabled companies to build a branded profile page, establish a Google+ identity, and distribute content to the Google+ network.
But some businesses have held back. If your brand is currently on the fence about joining the Google+ network, here are five factors that might help you decide:
- Google is important to your online business. Whether you run an e-commerce site or a personal blog, Google is vital to getting attention. Since this search engine is responsible for such a large proportion of online business, doesn't it make sense to try and get more out of it?
- Personalized search and online brand presence. Having a Google+ page will improve your chances of dominating the first page of Google for branded searches.
- Search is becoming increasingly more social. Although Google has not explicitly said how Google+ will affect search engine rankings, they have explained that content recommended by a stranger will no longer suffice. Google’s search algorithm will tilt toward social, and there are already some subtle signs emerging. Did you notice the recent update to Google Webmaster tools that now includes "search impact" in the "+1" metrics tab?
- Targeted communications. The ability to create "circles" and group connections allows you to easily tailor messages and deliver promotions to targeted segments or demographic groups.
- Google+ is not going away anytime soon. It is expected that more than 400 million people will join Google+ by the end of this year. Chances are that your customers will be there.
All of these favorable points don’t mean that there aren't some challenges to be overcome. At this stage, it still appears that Facebook remains the most prominent option for building an online presence, and people are currently showing somewhat limited engagement with the Google+ platform thus far.
Additionally, some Google+ functionality may be a bit theoretical at this point. For example, the ability to send targeted communications sounds like a great idea, but with very few people adding brands to their circles, it may be a little premature to start getting really excited.
Right now, it seems that people aren't yet completely prepared to divide their attention between both Facebook and Google+ -- but there may be a strong potential for this in the future.
— Daniel Sayer is SEO and social media strategist at Zeta Interactive.