No doubt, Google+ has been picking up speed and scale lately. The number of Google's properties using G+ has been getting bigger by day, and it may well so happen that, when the ripples from the latest Google algorithm updates die off, everyone will suddenly need Google+.
Why? Because, first, the diversity of Google search results has been increasing, and many of those new types of search results (SPYW listings, for example) are Google Plus-based. Second, the rules by which one plays in the organic SERPs now change as often as ever. Hence, many Web promoters are looking elsewhere for alternatives.
Segmenting one's Web presence
While big brands normally try to cover as many bases as they can, squeezing the max out of whatever online marketing channels one can think of, smaller brands would often use just one to two marketing channels that perform best.
Say, if you're a roofing company in Texas, using Facebook to promote your brand may not be your priority. However, if you've struggled long enough to get to the top of Google's organic search results and all of a sudden Google's ranking algorithm changed and your rankings deteriorated, you'd be probably looking for alternative traffic sources.
So, what are the alternatives? As we know, they are:
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)
- Google Places, Google Shopping, Google News and other types or Universal Search results
- Q&A databases, Web 2.0 sites
- Banners, sponsorships, etc.
"What does Google+ have to do with all this?" one may ask. Point is, Google+ has infiltrated a good deal of these traffic channels, and a more aggressive use of Google+ could help you do better in those.
Google's services that incorporate Google+
If you think about it, Google+ is now integrated with a rather big portion of Google's other properties. And, as the company is now taking steps to make its different products more social, a more active involvement in Google+ can yield great results.
Search Plus Your Word
Search Plus Your World (SPYW) is, technically, Google+ recommendations surfacing right inside one's search results. Now, isn't that cool? I presume the importance and the power of this feature would be even greater, if the average real-life user wasn't intimidated by the techy nature of Google+.
I know a lot of IT people who use G+ and love it, but as for my not-so-geeky contacts, some just don't get it. I suspect it's because of the transparent buttons and too many sharing options.
But, as more people get accustomed to Google+ and learn how to use it, SPYW may begin having great impact on what your clients see in the search results and what results they click on.
As you perhaps know, all Google Places business listings had suddenly (and automatically) turned Google+ Local pages several months ago. As Google said, the move was about making it easier for users to discover local businesses and engage with them.
The big news here is also that Google+ Local pages are being indexed, which did NOT use to be the case with Google Places listings. So, technically, your Google+ local profile may appear on Google Places, or in the search results as part of the SPYW feature, or even on the Knowledge Graph (we'll discuss that in just a bit).
Don't have a Google+ Local listing yet? Here's where to get one. Just remember to choose Local Business or Place as your category.
Google Shopping is still a confusing area. Unlike Google Places, this product is not that as straightforward and leaves much to be desired. Ever since its inception, it has be renamed and changed many times, still not fitting the bill of what merchants would normally expect from an e-commerce site.
However, just recently, Google decided to make all Google Product listings paid, hoping that this would push merchants to create nicer and more accurate listings and will eventually revamp user experience. The transition to paid product search is expected to be completed by the end of this fall.
At the same time, Google has introduced a number of improvements to the service (such as additional search filters, etc.), which should make it more popular with the searchers.
Now, how is Google + related to Google Shopping? So far, the only connection between the two is that you can +1 a Google Product in Google Shopping Search results.
Until recently, Google would let Google users leave reviews for Google Shopping items on Google Checkout. Now with Google Checkout becoming Google Wallet, it is unclear how the company is going to integrate more of its own social sentiment into Google Shopping, but I think it's only a matter of time that Google incorporates Google+ into Google Shopping in the same way it merged G+ with Google Places.
Google Knowledge Graph
Google's Knowledge Graph is yet another Google's fledgling product closely tied to Google+. As I've noticed, the Knowledge Graph quite often gets its data form various Google+ accounts (which is especially true of images), and, sometimes, a Knowledge Graph profile appears because there is a G+ Local listing correspondent to it.
G+ may also affect the performance of your Google AdWords ads. First, searchers can +1 a paid search result if they wish (click "Recommend this page"). Second, the number of people who have +1'ed the page is displayed right under the description, which may also be a factor of where your ad is displayed or how many people click on it:
And, there is one prediction regarding Google's +1 button I'd like to make. If it comes true, the value of Google +1's will increase all around the Web.
Not long ago, I read an interview with Eric Enge, which made me wonder yet again what could be the future of link building as we know it.
Eric Enge believes that link building will become more about PR (as in public relations) and reputation management, as Google will have the means of evaluating the public's sentiment about a brand or a page.
I partly agree with that, but I also think that one important tool that Google might use to do that could be Google+, its social network. I believe that +1 could well become the new link in the future, which would make Google+ a major marketing channel to online marketers.
So, to sum it up, while Google's Penguin and Panda updates are making way to the new era of link building and SEO, it's only wise to become more active promoting your brand on Google+, as it would give you a leg-up over competitors afterwards.
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