Google’s algorithm that informs how search results are ranked constantly evolves. However, one element is clearly important: how your business fares on Google+. So in case 250 million users, 150 million of which are active, isn’t enough reason to entice you to incorporate Google+ into your company’s social media marketing, ranking higher in search results is definitely a reason to get involved. That and the fact that Google adds more than 10 million new users each month.
While Google hasn’t come out and said exactly how Google+ figures into its SEO equation, social media experts have a pretty good idea of how it all works. “Google is using the number of +1s, shares and general activity on Google+ as a ranking factor in the personal results of logged-in users,” said Mike Arnesen, senior SEO analyst at SwellPath. “This even extends out to the second degree, so friends of your friends will be affected when you +1 pages.”
None of that means you have to go to Google+ to do anything. Working similarly to Facebook and Twitter buttons, +1 buttons on your site allow your customers to recommend your site and/or blog posts. And Arnesen insists the +1 button should take priority over other social networks. “Having Google +1 buttons on your website are vastly more important than having Facebook Share or Like buttons on your site,” he said.
Should you want to take your business to the next level, however, you’re going to need to get more involved in the social sphere. You can start by filling out your Google+ Local page, in particular your About page, making sure it’s filled with relevant keywords. Don’t be thrown by the fact that you already have a Google Places page. Google simply ported all Places pages over to Local pages, so if you have one you have the other.
Then you have to build a fan base, in much the same way you would with Facebook or Twitter: through engaging others. “Share things that your target audience is interested in, +1 things that your fans are sharing, comment on their shares,” Arnesen said. However, avoid asking for +1s in the way that you’d ask for Facebook Likes. Arnesen says, “Users on Google+ seem to be more hesitant to engage with brands just because.” Instead, give them a reason to support you and you’ll likely do well.
There are no set rules for how often to post or how much is too much, according to Arnesen. But he recommends you post a few times per day during regular workweeks.
What’s more important is to make sure you’re sharing more than just content specific to your business. Arnesen recommends a 1:4 or 1:3 ratio between your content and content from external sources. Regardless of the source, posts with images always do better than those without. They’re more visually appealing and will get you more +1s. Also, experiment with text markup in your updates using boldface or italics.
If you start with these basics, you’ll have a thriving community in no time and will then be able to take on social ninja status by expanding your reach to Google Events and Google+ Hangouts. But you first must crawl before you learn to run.