A few months ago I gave an interview for the New York Times on how businesses can use Google+. My opinion was that Google+ wasn’t succeeding as a social network, but since Google also dominates search, it is a site worth watching.
Google+ is now over a year old and claims to have 250 million users, but it hasn’t quite caught on as the social network people expected it to be. Studies show that Google+ users are only on the site for 3.3 minutes a month, vs 7.5 hours for Facebook and 98 minutes for Pinterest.
If you keep waiting for Google Plus to emerge as a social network you’ll miss the boat. The value of Google+ isn’t the social networking capabilities that Facebook has, it is about a hub for Google, and a number of recent changes point towards the importance of Google+ in search engine results.
I recently gave a Google+ for Business Online Training program that showed exactly why businesses need to start paying attention to Google+ and how to get started.
Here are the 3 recent changes that Google made that point towards Google+ as the hub of your online presence for Google.
Google Plus Your World
Google launched this functionality months ago in limited beta and essentially what Google Plus Your World does is it shows you search results based on what people in your social network are posting.
The idea is that for some searches, you’d rather see what your friends like and share vs. random search results.
Google Plus Your World is based on your Google+ network – so if you have a big network, the content that you create, share and like is more likely to show up in search results for your friends.
Google recently launched rel authorship, which is a way to identify WHO created content around the web. The idea is that any website, article or blog post is created by an individual, and Google is identifying individuals based on their Google+ Profiles.
For example, I contribute to ClickZ, and I want Google to know that the content links back to my Google+ profile. This way, when my content appears in search results it will include my profile image and increase my overall branding.
The same is true for web pages. Linking the website to your Google+ page shows Google who make the website, and can increase the branding in search results as Google pulls in your Google+ content.
You can find information on how to add the code to your website here: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-author-tags/.
Google Plus Local
Google recently launched Google+ Local to replace Google Places and add consistency to Google profiles. Essentially, they took the places pages that traditionally show up in local searches and switched them into Google+ Local listings. For local businesses, this can be combined into a single Google+ profile.
Now in order to leave reviews for a business the reviewer must be logged in to their Google+ account. Plus, this connection between profiles and search results shows that it is worth investing in Google+ if for nothing else than for search engines.
Want to learn more?
I know that these changes can be confusing – if you want to learn more, check out our Google+ Training to learn about how Google Plus can be used for your business.