Never content to rest on its laurels, Google released the Google+ identity and social networking service in September 2011. The response has been amazing, with millions of people already enrolled. Despite this, most account holders seem to be ignoring their membership. In January 2012, each user spent an average of only 3.3 minutes with the service. However, website owners should not let this deter them from using it.
What Is Google+
This Google tool integrates Google Profiles and other social services with new services called Sparks, Hangouts, and Circles. It has been referred to as a rival to Facebook and is accessible as a website and through mobile devices. This is not Google’s first attempt at social networking…remember Google Buzz and Google Friend Connect? This latest venture seems to be more successful, with an estimated 625,000 people joining each day as of December 2011.
An account page is organized into different sections. Users create Circles to organize others into groups for sharing Google products and services. The Stream section of the page publishes updates from Circle members. Group video chats take place in Hangouts and the Messenger tool provides Circle instant messaging for smartphone users. Account holders use Sparks to identify and share topics of interest and the +1 button allows users to recommend sites or portions of them, similar to the Facebook Like button.
The Importance of Google+ for Websites
Having a Google+ page is believed to affect rankings on organic Google search results. Google indexes the profiles and posts, including them in search results, but does not do the same for Facebook posts. When site visitors provide content with a +1, the site ranking can improve on Google and other users will realize that the information is useful. In addition, users can add the brand page to their Circles and when they search, that link will appear in queries.
By creating activity in this new Google account, site owners can use endorsements of other users to improve paid search results. By building Circles totaling 1,000 people or more, a business can integrate this account with its AdWords account. Doing so enables the +1 to appear on ad results, making these more credible, which should increase click-through rate, quality score, and ROI.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are the main reasons for a website to participate in Google+. However, they are not the only reasons. Google is already redesigning this new tool, making it more functional and flexible. Eventually, more people are expected to use the service and spend more time in it.