Jump to Main Content
Starting a Business

Blogs.Starting a Business


Is Google Plus Right for Your Small Business?

Comment Count:

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

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.

Related Articles



About the Author:

Caron Beesley


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


Thanks for the helpful information. It provides some good tips for freelancers. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for your blog post on G+. Very informative! I keep adding new weapons to my arsenal... G+, FB, Twitter, Linkedn, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Digg and Tumblr. I spend most of my time updating my Charlotte NC real estate website, like adding neighborhoods. I have over 40,000 pages indexed with Google but I now need to get my PR up. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
My business is still young and just beginning to start a Facebook presence. Choosing which social circles will help your business succeed is not an easy task and more and more social sites are entering the field. Betting on Google+ seems like a good idea based on their history but there just is no way to tell for sure and spending resources on several different social sites is time consuming. Taking the advice given in this article it looks like Google+ would help out especially if they continue to evolve as they are. Thank you for the advice, it is appreciated.
You hit the nail on the head regarding the question of your target audience being on Google+ but personally I don't think there are enough users for me on Google+ and more importantly users that are spending large amounts of time on Google+. This might all change but right now Google+ isn't yet for me and my business.
Its hard to imagine that Google Plus will ever be as big as Facebook. I think they're too late to the game. One thing that was cool that might help them catch steam though is that automatic picture backup. When I saw that commercial - I was impressed.
Very useful information, thanks.
I've been slow to get on the Google+ bandwagon. I have an account but rarely use it because there is very little activity there. I've heard from some that +1 helps you in search results but i've heard from others that it's not the case. I think it will be 5 years before we see Google+ become a real threat to Facebook, unless Facebook crashes because of the IPO mess.
My limited experience with Google+ has shown me that it is more about engaging people with great content. If you are a small business that is often providing advice, tips, and great content along this line then Google+ is for you. It is very different from Facebook.
if you ask me personally, the social network like google+ fb or twitter etc.. is a great idea for a blog to increase visitor traffic... But the quality of content is very important.. Remember quality of content.
Our business already have a facebook fan page and have found it really useful. Get a lot of loyal customers from there. Initially, we didn't bother to catch up with Google+, but now their presence is increasing day by day. Also, as mentioned in your post Search Plus Your World feature and +1 button has forced us to to create a Google Plus profile. I should admit that creating that profile has helped us and now we're getting traffic from both social media. I guess for the Small Businesses, if you can afford the presence on popular social medias you should go for it(Knowing which one you want). Thanks for the post.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!