Google Plus Setup For Businesses, Franchises & Brands

Clients often ask us, “What should we be doing with Google+?” Usu­ally it’s already under­stood that it’s a social off­shoot of Google that fits some­where into the scheme of online mar­ket­ing, but the details of how to get started can often get confusing.

  1. Changes are hap­pen­ing fast — check for time­stamps on arti­cles online (this one, too).
  2. As Google con­tin­ues to inte­grate Google+ with exist­ing assets, blog­gers from a vari­ety of indus­try seg­ments are rac­ing to declare the lat­est impli­ca­tions. The most dra­matic pro­nounce­ments tend to gain inflated vis­i­bil­ity because of their share/click appeal.

ISM set out to take a closer look at Google’s lat­est offer­ing, crossed that with some qual­ity inves­tiga­tive blog posts, and boiled the results down to a roadmap for busi­nesses. Many thanks to gurus Danny Sul­li­van, A.J. Kohn, and many oth­ers whose research efforts were included this article.

Google Plus Background

Overview

Google+ is a social net­work cre­ated by Google, inte­grated with exist­ing Google user accounts, the “+1” shar­ing sys­tem, and other exist­ing Google assets. Google+ users can “fol­low” or “friend” other Google+ users or pages by adding them to their “Cir­cles”. Google+ Cir­cles pro­vide a way for users to orga­nize their con­tacts and interests.

Google+ Business/Local Pages

Google+ Pages are social pro­file pages that users cre­ate on Google. Recently Google started allow­ing busi­ness pages.
As in other forms of social media, increas­ing the num­ber of users who include you in their Cir­cles is the key to expand­ing your vis­i­bil­ity and influ­ence on the network.

How Google Plus Affects SEO

Recent His­tory (2012)

Google has started includ­ing Google+ con­tent on reg­u­lar search results. These results are usu­ally con­tex­tual to logged-in users, show­ing con­tent from peo­ple and pages in their Cir­cles. Con­tent pub­lished pub­licly via the Google+ plat­form may also appear as part of nor­mal search results (non-logged in users will see it). This is one area where Google+ dif­fer­en­ti­ates itself from Face­book.
Both sce­nar­ios – logged in and non-logged in – should be con­sid­ered when build­ing a strat­egy to increase organic vis­i­bil­ity using Google+ busi­ness pages.

Ben­e­fit 1: Boost Brand Visibility

The most imme­di­ate influ­ence of Google+ pages for busi­ness is allow­ing busi­ness to claim more SERP real estate for branded searches.
For exam­ple, a search for “at&t”:

Google Plus Integrated Result

Not every busi­ness can expect this kind of result, but it demon­strates how Google+ pro­files are becom­ing another asset for con­trol­ling SERP vis­i­bil­ity for your brand term. In this exam­ple, Google has pulled in posts from AT&T’s Google+ page (com­pa­ra­ble to tweets or Face­book sta­tus updates).

Results like the exam­ple above are much more likely to be gen­er­ated if the logged-in user has the Google+ page in their cir­cle. Expand­ing the num­ber of fol­low­ers on Google+ is a crit­i­cal ingre­di­ent to any Google+ mar­ket­ing strategy.

Ben­e­fit 2: Increase Non-Brand Visibility

Con­tent posted via Google+ rep­re­sents a new medium that is gov­erned by a sep­a­rate rank­ing algo­rithm, open­ing up new avenues for con­tent visibility.

Cre­at­ing Google Plus Pages for Business

Sign­ing Up for Google Plus

Start by log­ging into a Google account and going to https://plus.google.com. We rec­om­mend the cre­ation of a cor­po­rate Google+ page as well as local pages for each franchise.

Cre­ate a Prod­uct or Brand Page

On https://plus.google.com, look for “Cre­ate a Google+ page” in the right col­umn. Choose “Prod­uct or Brand” as the category:

Create Google Plus Business Page

Pro­vide the com­pany name, web­site, and the most rel­e­vant cat­e­gory to com­plete the ini­tial setup.

Cre­at­ing Local Busi­ness Google+ Pages

To extend the ben­e­fits of Google+ into geo key­word ver­ti­cals, we rec­om­mend cre­at­ing (or coör­di­nat­ing the cre­ation of) Google+ pages for each fran­chise. Use the same instruc­tions as above, except choose “Local Busi­ness or Place” instead of “Prod­uct or Brand”

Increas­ing Traf­fic via Google+ Pages

1. Opti­mize Google+ Page

Like other con­tent on the web, SEO strate­gies can help influ­ence the vis­i­bil­ity of Google+ Pages in organic search results. Early indus­try stud­ies have led to the fol­low­ing SEO best prac­tices for Google+ pages.

Con­tent Optimization

Include tar­get key­words within the “Intro­duc­tion” sec­tion of the “About” page:

Google Plus Business Page

Key­words That Sur­face Google Plus Pages (on Google)

Google looks for the fol­low­ing qual­i­ties in key­words when decid­ing whether to pull in Google+ pages on reg­u­lar SERPs:

  • Is typ­i­cally used in social con­texts (e.g. top­i­cal key­words related to recent events)
  • Is a close match to a Google+ page in the user’s Cir­cle (if they are logged in)
  • Is a close match to a Google+ page that has received a high vol­ume of +1’s

Link To Your Business’s Google+ Page

Help both new and exist­ing cus­tomers find your Google+ pages by adding links to them on the web site. Eye-catching wid­gets are avail­able to help attract clicks: https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/badge/config

Ver­i­fy­ing Your Busi­ness On Google Plus

Google looks to form links between Google+ pages and web­sites as a mea­sure to improve search results. To help accom­plish this, Google pro­vides steps to get a Google+ page ver­i­fied as an offi­cial busi­ness page. Fol­low these steps to get verified:

1. Link to Your Web­site From Google

Linking Google Plus with Business Website

2. Link to Google+ From Your Website

Link to your Google+ page and include a rel=”publisher” direc­tive in the HTML that spec­i­fies the cor­rect URL for your Google+ page. This will take the for­mat https://plus.google.com/(10+ num­bers here)

3. Sub­mit ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests

Web­sites can request a “man­ual” ver­i­fi­ca­tion from Google if the Google+ page exceeds 1,000 fol­low­ers (in addi­tion to the inter­link­ing described above):

http://support.google.com/plus/bin/request.py?contact_type=extended_verification

Pub­lish­ing Strat­egy for Busi­nesses on Google+

The fol­low­ing strate­gies are rec­om­mended as part of an active social media cam­paign. The ben­e­fit with Google+ is that each post—especially pub­lic posts—double as pos­si­ble entry points via new key­word searches on Google.

Post to Public

Make sure posts are pub­lic so that Google may include them in reg­u­lar results. This also makes your con­tent to vis­i­ble to other users within the Google+ net­work that aren’t in your Cir­cles (or vice versa).

Post Fre­quently

Sig­nal fresh­ness and attract fol­low­ers by reg­u­larly posting

Lure +1’s (up-votes)

User up-votes (+1’s) are a pow­er­ful sig­nal in Google’s real-time sys­tem, so post­ing items users are more likely to share will help get your content—and your brand—onto more search result pages and in front of more users.

Flag Other Users with “@”

Use the @name func­tion to cre­ate vis­i­bil­ity for posts on other pages and also engage new groups of users (just like Twit­ter and Facebook).

Respond to Engagement

When users +1 con­tent, cir­cle them or oth­er­wise engage them. Use the @name func­tion in replies when applicable.

Cir­cle” People

Add team mem­bers, busi­ness part­ners and indus­try experts. Search Google+ users who match terms that sug­gest inter­est in your business’s prod­uct and ser­vices and cir­cle them, too.

Mon­i­tor real-time searches

From within Google+’s search (not pub­lic search), keep an eye on brand results and key­word results related to recent posts. This will help your busi­ness become actively engaged with the most influ­en­tial Google+ users and pages in your space.

Ref­er­ences

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