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Google+ (aka, Google Plus). You may have heard of it, but may not be 100% sure of what it actually is. And truth be told, you’re not the only one.

Vibe's Google+ page

What is Google+?

In basic terms, Google+ is the search engine giant’s own attempt at a social networking site. A few years back, Google took a look around the web, saw how successful the likes of Facebook and Twitter were and said to themselves “Hey, we fancy a piece of that action”. The next thing we knew, in 2011, Google+ was born.

But Google went that one step further by saying that Google+ wasn’t just any old social networking site. We were all told that Google+ was to act as an identity facility, whereby users could access Google’s other services (such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps etc) all through this one profile. It would be a way to publicly recommend, access and share content without having to change accounts every five minutes.

There was also a nifty little element that SEOs from all over raved about; Google Authorship. Business owners were encouraged to add a piece of markup (rel=“author”) to their websites that would link to their personal Google+ profile page. This markup was invisible to regular viewers, but would be hidden in the code of the web pages. Afterwards, any content or blog posts written on the owner’s website which included this link to their Google+ profile and appeared in the search engine results pages would be accompanied by a small snapshot of the business owner’s face (which would be the same as the profile picture on their Google+ page) along with their name and how many people were following them on Google+. The idea behind Google Authorship was that Google assumed users would be more likely to click on a search result if they could instantly see the friendly face of who it was written by. In basic terms, it would build authority for individuals within the search results; the more people would click on a piece written by Mr N. O. Body, the more Google would understand Mr Body’s popularity (or authority) and as such, they would begin to show more of Mr Body’s musings in the search results pages.

How successful is Google+?

Well, the answer to this question depends on who you ask. There are many debates out there discussing the pros and cons of Google+. In the red corner, we have the haters whose general perceptions are:

  • “It’s not very user friendly”
  • “None of my actual customers/clients are using it”
  • “I don’t understand what the Circles feature is”
  • “It’s just another social network I have to spend my time on”

But in the blue corner, we have the lovers who say:

  • “There are fewer users, which means less competition for me”
  • “Unlike Facebook, all of my posts can be seen by all of my followers”
  • “It allows me to see how many people have viewed my page”
  • “There’s a great community on there with active engagement on posts”

And right up until recently, the latter list of love-filled statements would have included “The Google Authorship element will be helping to improve my website’s SEO”. However, in the past few weeks, things have been shaken up in the SEO world; Google Authorship, is no more. RIP.

Back in June, Google removed friendly faced profile images from the search results. In August, the rest was dropped too; no more author name, no more Google+ follower statistics. It all disappeared.

This has led to much speculation as to whether or not Google+ is also on the verge of dying out. Has Google bitten off more than it can chew in trying to compete with the social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter? Strangely enough, we doubt we’ll be seeing Mark Zuckerberg quaking in his boots any time soon…!

So, should I use Google+ to promote my business?

Again, this is an answer that changes from person to person. Here at Vibe though, our stance is…Yes, keep (or start, if you aren’t already) using Google+ to promote your business! At the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt to build yourself a completely new group of followers and supporters via a separate network to those you already have on Facebook or Twitter. More followers = more customers/clients. You may even find that your industry’s particular niche comes into its own on the Google+ platform; the people using Google+ can be very passionate about certain topics and if you fall into one of those categories, you might have struck gold.

And we recommend that you constantly remind yourself of the following; Google+ is Google’s very own service – its own little baby, if you will. Google really wants its baby to succeed and if it can see that businesses like yourselves are using it regularly, promoting yourselves, growing a following and generally creating a lot of buzz, then you can bet that Google is going to be looking at you rather favourably.

If these rumours of Google+’s potentially imminent death are to become reality, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it and matters can be readdressed then. But until that day comes (if it comes), get yourself on Google+, aim to post at least once a day, develop relationships with users by interacting and contributing regularly, and show Google that you’re supporting its precious offspring.

And of course, if you feel you need a little helping hand in this area, whether it’s setting up your presence from scratch or just giving you a gentle nudge in the right direction, get in touch with our social networking team here at Vibe; we’re happy to help.

Categories: SEO, Social Media, On-line Marketing

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