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Is Google Plus Right for Your Small Business?

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Is Google Plus Right for Your Small Business?

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 19, 2012 Updated: June 7, 2013

Does your small business have a presence on Facebook or Twitter? Are you wondering whether it’s worth investing time and resources in yet another social network? When Google rolled out Google Plus (Google+) last year, many asked the same question. And they’re still asking.

There’s no doubt that social media is a great outreach and engagement tool for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. But as more and more social networks come online (Pinterest anyone?) is it really worth the effort to branch out and jump on every social media bandwagon that comes along?

To help you decide whether Google+ is worth your time and resources, here are some the factors to consider as you determine your strategy.

Google+ Versus Facebook

If you want to understand the merits of Google+ versus Facebook, this article from American Express OPENForum,“Google Plus vs. Facebook: Which is Best for Business?” does an excellent job breaking down the factors to consider. Here’s a summary:

  • Breadth of Audience – Facebook has a powerhouse user base that checks in regularly, making them easier to engage. “…For small business, whoever your customers are, they're already on Facebook and know how to navigate it.” Google+ has a smaller user base, although the audience is more focused (male engineers, designers and developers are among the highest Google Plus user groups). But they visit the network less often, and are thus harder to engage.
  • Engagement Features – Although both have similar engagement features – Facebook’s “Like” and Google’s “+1” button, for example – Facebook leads the way in options and tools that let businesses engage with their fans, with a plethora of apps, polls, events, and visibility into friend activity. At Google+, your options are limited to uploading photos and live video chat “hangouts” with friends or customers.
  • Branding – Facebook’s new “Timeline” design for pages is a real boon for small businesses that can customize pages to reflect their brand in a way that’s unparalleled in social media. Google+, on the other hand, leaves less territory for your brand building (although recent updates see Google+ moving away from its earlier Google-heavy branding and white space model).

One more consideration: “Segmentation.” Through its “Circles” feature, Google+ lets page owners segment fans or customers and deliver more tailored messaging to them. Facebook has rolled out a new Interest List feature that lets users organize content and reach more targeted users according to topics that interest them, but Facebook doesn’t offer the level of segmentation that Google+ does.

Google+ and Online Businesses – The Potential Impact on Search Rankings

Google is a search engine behemoth, but how does Google+ impact your businesses’ search engine results? Some marketers are encouraging businesses to setup Google+ pages to maximize their rankings, and here’s why:

  • The “Search Plus Your World” Feature – Google’s new “Search Plus Your World” functionality gives users the option of co-mingling personalized searches (based on content shared by friends on their Google+ network) with regular search results. This is a matter of user preference, however; users must be logged into Google+ to enable this, and they can also disable this feature from the top right of the Google Search screen.
  • The “+1” Endorsement – Web pages that have been “+1’d” (or liked) by users in your circles are automatically bumped up in your search results. Think of it as a virtual word of mouth recommendation. Likewise, any content your business shares on your Google+ page will show up in related Google searches (again, the user must be logged into Google+ for this to happen).

So far, it remains to be seen how strong an impact Google+ pages will have on overall search rankings. But if you run an online business, Google+ and the integration of the “+1” tool on your website could give you a big advantage, potentially boosting your organic online search rankings – something worth testing.

The Bottom Line

So, what should your small business do? With limited resources, it’s important to focus your efforts on the social media network that’s right for your business.  Be strategic. Consider these factors:

  • Is your target audience active on Google+? A quick look at the latest social media usage statistics for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others (care of OnlineMBA.com) shows that 71 percent of Google+ users are male, 44 percent are single, with engineers being the most common occupation.  Demographics aside, you could poll your customers to see whether they are active (meaning they visit the site at least once a day) in-person, via email, or on other social media sites.
  • Where is the best fit for your small business? For businesses that specialize in professional services, connections may be more easily made and engagement might be more fruitful on LinkedIn than Facebook or Google+. For service businesses, Facebook and Twitter might be a better fit. It all depends on where your audience is hanging out and if they are joining in conversations about topics that are relevant to your business. Take a look at what other businesses in your field are doing. Where are they engaging? Are they successful?

If you decide Google+ is right for your business, set goals and track your progress. If not, keep it on your radar and be prepared to adjust your focus if it becomes a hangout for your customers and a forum for conversations that matter to your business.

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

I believe google plus is still in at experiment stage. I understand from one of the Google blogs that there's more to +1 endorsement. The fitness test is an interesting point that you have raised. At the same time I feel the guys at Microsoft and Yahoo! must also be preparing for a similar feature. With technology moving forward, mergers (MSN and Yahoo), Web 2.0 development, mobile computing and 4G revolution, Google will have to do a lot more than Google Plus to keep people from using the site. I agree with the last comment that 'setting up at least a minimal presence on gogole plus could be a smart move'. Thanks.
Google plus as of now continuously retains its good position to become one of great social media platform that can be used for professional and personal lifestyle. As you have business either its good or not, then you should have your own business profile on Google plus and start gaining additional online popularity.
Yes ! Google Plus is useful for Online marketing. Thanks for your Nice Information :)
Google+ has WAY less users than the top two social networks - which are FaceBook and YouTube, respectively. YouTube is also the second-largest "search engine" due to the fact that more people use it than anything besides Google itself. This is from data that Experian Hitwise released recently and it's been featured on some SEO sites like This link has been removed from public view. Please refer to the Rules of Conduct.
Here's a useful infographic that I found today, it's a great snapshot that details which socila network you should use and when: http://mashable.com/2012/04/16/social-networks-tips-infographic/
In the present time, Google has used more worldwide and as per current survey Google has 64 percent of searches. so its worth to make high ranking in Google search results and pages which has Google profile are given more preference and considered more than other. Therefore, Its worth to make Google plus page.
Great advice. Thanks for sharing. I was not sure about any of the social media things. So, I just chose to use them all. I was hoping that any kind of content share would help increase my visibility. I am still working on that. Thanks for the great read and all the ideas.
Great advice on the "fit" for your business and determining whether or not your audience or potential customers are using G+ or any other social media. Few people have the time to be everywhere at once, so choose your social media time-sucking black holes wisely. That said, setting up at least a minimal presence on Google+ is a smart move if search engine traffic is a big part of your online marketing. Not only are there the Search Plus Your World and personalized search benefits you mentioned, but the "little" bells and whistles like the profile photos Google has added to some search results can really help your website stand out from the crowd.

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