Google+ -- Past and Present
Google+ has come a long way since its launch in September 2011. It is Google’s fourth attempt to break into the social media market, and it is here to stay. Google’s fanfare and the integration of Google+ into almost every facet of their services has underscored the “all in” nature of their latest social media product. But the term “social media product” does not accurately reflect the current state of affairs of the Google Plus platform, especially for businesses. The platform extension for businesses, called Google+ Local, acts more like an authoritative directory than it does a social media website.
1. Easily Establish an Authoritative Presence Online
Any business can have a Google+ Local page, with photos, store hours, and services listed on their main page. These are easy to complete for small businesses and don’t require the time or expertise of creating a website. An Optimized Google+ Local page can be a quick and easy way to have an effective business listing with accurate information that is fed directly into search results pages. This “bare bones” web presence may not work for organizations that need a lot of online engagement, but may be perfect for small businesses without a lot of online resources or expertise.
2. Practically guarantee page one presence for your business category and geographic area
We can’t say it’s a 100% guarantee, but as Google considers their own information the most relevant for their own search returns, a fully optimized Google+ Local page will provide tremendous results. The option of a Google+ Local Profile is quickly becoming a necessity for small businesses, especially if your business depends on local customers. Google had integrated Google Places into their search results, but Google+ Local pages are much more pervasive in search results pages than their “Places” predecessors. Bottom line is, if you aren’t in the platform, you are definitely missing out on the increased visibility within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
3. Engage and Educate with Videos and Hangouts
Some businesses need more than copy to explain their business or services, and there are a plenty of organizations that use video to supplement their marketing materials. Google+ Local allows you to easily post and share those videos with your potential customers. You can also create “Hangouts” to have interactive sessions with prospects, showing them your services and answering their questions in a live streaming video. This interactive video can provide on the spot consultation, from anywhere with an internet connection.
Google has made the investment, so you should too
Google has made this social media/ business directory service successful by forcing it to the forefront for users and integrating it into all other aspects of their services. Experienced marketers are quick to point out the lack of analytics, which is something that needs to be addressed on Google’s side. The service, and all of the potential that is carries, is difficult to avoid for local marketers. It is definitely worth the small investment of time for local businesses, especially if they don’t currently have a well defined web presence. Because Google has gone “all in” with the program, this investment will pay off for years to come.