If you’re like many people and businesses, you’re probably wondering why you should even bother with Google Plus. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare and countless other forums, why should you add another into the mix?
Google found out the hard way that it’s no easy task. The best way to put it into perspective is to think of Google as the Bing of social media. They’re not a big threat to Facebook’s market share, but they’re in position to jump on the opportunity if Facebook screws up. Much like they did when Yahoo fell out of favor in the early 2000′s when it was revealed that there were businesses literally paying for search ranking.
Just as Google commands at least 80% of the search engine market (heck, the word “Google” is now a common verb, i.e. “Google it”), Facebook commands the majority of the social media market. Just like Bing is a minor player in the search engine market vying for whatever share they can get, Google Plus is a minor player in the social media market.
But after the failure of Google Wave and Google Buzz to create any sort of buzz, much less a wave, Google went back to the drawing board knowing that they needed some sort of compelling reason for people to use their forum with so many other popular forums available. What they did is find a way to incorporate Google Plus into search rankings.
The nuts and bolts of it come down to two things: Google Plus in the Google search engine algorithm and Google Plus for authorship, one focused mostly on business and one focused mostly on individuals.
Google Plus in the Google search engine algorithm: Google saw business pages on Facebook as an untapped market for them, so it only made sense to give a little extra SEO mojo to businesses that have Google Plus pages. Mind you, it’s not the keys to the kingdom…it’s merely a piece of the puzzle. Given the fact that this piece of the puzzle is directly tied to Google, it’s worth your while to have your business on Google Plus (with your website link, of course), as well as completely filling out your Google Places profile. Like any other social media, though, you have to work it and build your audience. Include Google Plus in all of your social media broadcasting.
Google Plus for Authorship: Google had their compelling reason for businesses, but what about individuals? Enter Authorship (also known as AuthorRank). Whether you’re a professional writer or a blogger for fun, you can tie all of your online content to your Google Plus profile and increase your online visibility as well as your credibility, especially if you’re a semi-prolific writer. Click the “Authorship” link above to find out more about it.
While it won’t overtake Facebook’s market share, Google Plus still has value for businesses and individuals and is worth your time for online visibility and SEO.
Some of you may think I’m crazy for saying this, but damn if it isn’t sometimes true in the Internet world of getting your website found, seen and revisited.
It all depends on how you accumulate your numbers.
Please, oh please…for the sake of the children…ignore ALL of those pitches you get about attracting thousands of Twitter, etc. followers virtually overnight. Artificially building your online audience will lead you to a false sense of everybody caring about your business and your website when in fact only a small percentage does. When you build your audience artificially, there truly is weakness in numbers.
As much as you don’t want to hear it, building your audience properly takes time and effort. It cannot and will not happen overnight for 99% of businesses out there. We have to allow for 1% as entities like CNN, ESPN etc. had audiences waiting for them when they entered the Internet and social media realms.
In keeping with my esoteric music references, I’ll use three bands as examples of how to focus on your particular audience.
Maybe you’re like Obituary, the seminal Florida death metal band with the name to end all names. With a name like Obituary, you pretty much know what you’re in for. This ain’t the Osmonds. Extremely heavy music with angry troll vocals you either love or hate. In short, this band has a niche market…and they know it. Will they ever headline large arenas all over the world? No, because their appeal is too narrow as theirs is a decidedly niche market. Conversely, if they communicate with and serve their audience, they can tour clubs all around the world and make music for a living for a long time.
Maybe you’re like Clutch, the Baltimore-based purveyors of intelligent, witty music steeped very much in the classic rock groove of the 1970′s. With Neil Fallon’s backwoods preacher-esque vocal musings featuring liberal doses of literary references over a KFC-fried rock groove, Clutch’s appeal is more broad than Obituary’s while still not at the level of playing large arenas. Theirs is a niche market, albeit a wider niche. If they communicate with and serve their audience, they can tour larger clubs and theaters all over the world and make a living with music for a long time. And they’re doing it…in addition to a large cult following in the US, they’ve got a lot of fans down under in Australia and their 2009 album Strange Cousins From The West became the first self-produced and self-released album in history to crack the Billboard Top 40 Albums Chart.
Or maybe you’re like Rush, frequently referred to as the world’s largest “cult” band. In their case, their appeal was considered limited due to Geddy Lee’s impossibly high vocals and the band’s complex musical arrangements. However, through consistent touring, consistent album releases, consistent communication with their fan base and a knack for connecting with their fans through their lyrics (read: like website content), they found a large audience for their music. Larger than they probably could have ever dreamed…but it took work to reach their audience.
What do these three bands have in common? They consistently serve their audience and, therefore, have all been in existence for well over 20 years.
Look at your business and your product/service. Be honest with yourself…do you have wide or limited appeal? It could be that you’re a local business or have a truly niche product or service, which would would limit your true audience. It could be that you’re a regional business or have a product or service with more broad (though not necessarily mass) appeal. Or it could be that you have a product or service with mass appeal, which would make you a potentially national or international business.
Whatever the case, don’t use shortcuts to build your audience. Earn it. Build consistently by serving your audience with truly informative content on your website that’s easy to read and digest. Over time, you will see your audience grow to powerful numbers. Numbers don’t have to be huge to be powerful…they just have to be properly targeted numbers, and you have to serve your properly targeted audience:)
“That rug really tied the room together.”
One of many memorable quotes from Joel and Ethan Coen’s massive cult classic The Big Lebowski, it’s also provides some nice esoteric metaphor in describing the importance of Google AuthorRank.
Just as The Dude’s aforementioned rug tied the room together, AuthorRank is a way that Google is tying your writing contributions and content together in a way that strengthens your online presence and identity while also creating a way Google can validate (or not) written content online.
What you want to do is create your Google+ profile and use the identity you want to be associated with your writing, be it your personal profile or your business profile. You then want to link to your Google+ profile from your author byline for every article or post you write. These links identify you as the author, which will link your Google+ profile to all of our online work. You will want to do this for past articles, too. I know it’s a pain in the asp, especially if you have a lot of online content, but it’s important that you take the time to do it.
One very important reason for this is that Google will be using AuthorRank to improve the accuracy and credibility of the information we read online. You know as well as I do that there’s a lot of crappy, inaccurate information available online and just as many trusting (but unfortunately gullible) people who are ready to believe it because it’s “published.” What’s more disturbing is that false information and outright lies can be shared and spread like wildfire online, bringing to light this equation: False Information + Repetition = Legitimacy
AuthorRank is a way Google can link information to its actual source. Most spammers and people who write for the wrong reasons (two wrongs certainly don’t make a write) want to remain anonymous and don’t want their real name linked to anything they write online. Even though AuthorRank was set up for identifying credible information and sources online and not set up for you to optimize your online presence, the nature of it makes it a valuable addition to your SEO and Internet marketing equation.
AuthorRank will take numerous factors into consideration, and I love that it’s basically set up to reward you for writing good, legitimate, high-quality articles and posts. Some of the factors that will be considered in AuthorRank:
- How consistently and frequently you post
- The average PageRank of your published content
- How engaging your articles are (i.e. how many/often people comment and share) on your website or whatever website your article appears on.
- How many contacts you have in your Google+ circles (hey, you had to have seen that one coming).
- How engaging your posts are in your Google+ circles
- Your authority level on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter
There are myriad other factors that will figure in this, many of which you will have no control over, but these are the factors you can control and if you handle them properly they will have a positive impact on those factors you can’t control, as well.
Just make sure you fill out your Google+ profile completely and be consistent with your writing.
The Dude abides.
Today’s Bookmark comes from Modny73 and it’s essentially a list of links to multiple free social icon sets. These icons can be used on your website to link to your social accounts. This free social media icon set has a great mix of creative icons and simple minimalistic icons.
A few months back we we were asked by the Lancaster Chamber’s Connections Magazine to submit our thoughts on what was important in business today. Over the last few issues they have spoke to many local businesses asking the same question. While all of the ideas generated by our wonderful local entrepreneurs are great we still believe that, at its core, the most important thing in business today is STILL the customer experience.
Our previous post and its part 2 spoke about the inclusion of social media along with this principle. How better to engage with the clients you are building relationships with than to stay in contact with them through social media! But first, you gotta establish the relationship, and that is done by doing good, honest work. MIND wants to have a relationship with our clients. Sure, you want the ability to run your site for yourself… (some do, some don’t) but know that when you deal with us, you can always call and we’ll be there to answer your questions or at least point you in the right direction.
Because of our general attitude about how important client relationships are we have retained a large portion of these clients and continue to serve them today. We may not hear from them for months but when they need us, we’re there… and that eventually gets noticed by more people than just the immediate client. What’s Important In Business Today? Read more of our thoughts here.