Why Google+ Still Matters
The status of Google+ remains in confusing limbo, and no one outside of Google really knows if it will remain in its current form, or morph into something different yet again. Many businesses jumped into Google Plus soon after its release of business pages but soon abandoned since they looked to it for social interactions that never happened. Was this the right move, or is there more to Google’s Business platform than businesses saw at the outset? While Google+ has been the source of confusion for many it has also turned into a top-performing platform for those who leverage its analytics and understand how to use it to showcase their business.
A simple search for Google+ returns many articles that tell you that Google+ is dead or going away, and useless, and many of the positive articles are outdated, which leaves many to wonder. I decided to look at what it is doing for clients that we manage and draw my own conclusions.
Like it or hate it, Google+ is an still part of Google, and even if no one else does, Google Search still pays attention to what shows up on G+. Search treats G+ much as it treats websites, giving greater weight to active pages that have useful, new content than to pages that are rarely updated.
Search won’t always return your Google+ page, but it draws data from that page and incorporates it into local Search results. The details shown below are the search results for the Google query “Roofing Kenosha Wisconsin”:
Dick’s Roofing shows up first in Google search results, right after the paid ads. This search lists 20 roofing companies in Kenosha when you click on “more roofing.” Not only is Dick’s listed first on the map, but their website is also listed first in the results below. While it is no longer obvious to searchers, the map listing is based on businesses’ Google+ pages.
It is likely that your business has a G+ page and profile even if you have never set one up. Google will create a page for your business, whether you like it or not, and they’ll populate it with information that they gather from sources on the web. The algorithm they use is far from flawless, and the G+ page they create may contain wrong information right out of the box – and it probably won’t keep up with changes to your hours, phone number or other critical details. The only way to make sure that data is correct is by maintaining your own G+ page and going through Google’s verification process.
Once you have claimed your page, completing the “About Us” tab still isn’t enough. For the purposes of search, Google also scans your posts. As in any Google search, fresh information is considered more relevant than old stuff that never changes, so posting frequently to G+ will increase your page’s SEO. A business that is outside the city you searched could rank first in results because its G+ page has more consistent relevant content.
Google loves relevant useful content, and the more you publish, the better you will fare in non-paid search results.
Google reviews are important, too. Among many factors, Google Search seems to rank businesses with more positive reviews higher than those with negative or few reviews. As you can see in this search for “Car Dealer Elkhart Indiana,” the top-ranking dealer has 175 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 stars. While the second listing has a higher rating of 4.7 stars, it has only 90 reviews. This seems to point to the volume of reviews being most important, but if you look a bit further down the list, you will see that Lochmandy Motors (4.6 stars, 59 reviews) outranks Walters Auto Sales, which has 70 reviews but a lower ranking of 3.6. In the same manner, Lochmandy Motors outranks Heart City Toyota Scion, which has a 5 star rating but only 19 reviews.
Google doesn’t disclose its ranking algorithms, but the data clearly show that the more good reviews your business has, the better.
Responding to reviews is one way to improve review quantity and quality. Even if it didn’t affect search results, it’s smart marketing to demonstrate that your company is engaged with its audience.
So what do these search results do for my company?
Showing up in Google Search is certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into more business. I hear from businesses all the time, “I have a website, I do social media, but so what? I can’t see any sales or money coming from it.” Google+ provides that answer.
Brooks Trap Mill, in Thomaston, Maine, is a lobster trap manufacturing company. They use their Google+ page to post content about their business, industry updates, and content relevant to commercial fishermen.
In the last 90 days, Brooks Trap Mill’s Google+ content has been viewed 13,702 times. Their Google+ profile has showed up in searches 6,915 times. Posts have been seen 459 times, and photos have been viewed 6,319 times, while their Google+ page has been visited only nine times.
That’s great for exposure and brand identity, but hardly translates into sales.
Here’s how that traffic makes you money:
Brooks Trap Mill received 527 clicks from their Google+ exposure in the last 90 days. Of that, 312 went to their website, 76 clicks were for driving directions, and 139 for phone calls. People looking for driving directions are typically new customers. People visiting your location and people calling your business make you money.
It is important that you:
- Claim your page
- Set up the page branding to present your company favorably
- Completely fill out the “About” section with all possible information about your company
- Consistently post relevant and useful content to your page
- Encourage happy customers to leave you reviews
- Monitor your page and analytics consistently to see what is working, and what you can do better.
If you need help with Google+ or other online marketing endeavors, I can help you. Running a business is time-consuming and difficult. My team can become an extension of your business to handle the marketing, while you manage your business. Contact me if you would like to talk more about the opportunities.