Working for an online marketing company that specializes in search engine optimization for small businesses means that Google pretty much runs my life. Our email is Google. Our documents are in Google Drive. Our lives revolve around keeping up with Google algorithm changes and Google+ Local’s latest and greatest ideas affecting our clients.google-plus-logo-tilt

Because we focus a lot on Google SEO, I often find myself explaining to our clients why their presence on Google+ is so important. People outside the industry tend to think it’s just another social network (and one that no one is using). The truth is, whether the network is popular or not, Google loves it when you play in their sandbox.

Investing even a little bit of time and energy into your business page on Google+ can mean improved local search visibility, especially for a small to medium-sized business.

With search engine algorithms constantly evolving and becoming more intertwined with social media, the lines denoting where SEO stops and social begins are becoming blurrier by the day.

Read more below about what makes Google+ worth a slot in your business or non-profit’s social media strategy for 2014.

Google Search Visibility

Anyone who has something to sell would be crazy to pass up an opportunity to get their brand in front of qualified leads, right? Search engine optimization is all about getting your website found by your potential customers, and Google’s got the majority of the market share when it comes to search.

Blended Search Results

Hashtag Search On Google #neworleansGoogle+ content itself — meaning content you post to your page — can rank in search results in instances where your website may not. Each post has a unique URL and, when the content generates interaction, can potentially rank in search results!

Google’s also moving toward integrating social and more visually engaging information. Hashtag searches on Google integrate recent Google+ posts that utilize that hashtag!

Google+ Factors In Local Carousel Results

Many people have noticed the “Local Carousel” appearing in local search results of late. Mike Blumenthal, local search optimization expert, compiled a list of keywords that trigger Google to display the carousel in search results.  The carousel has impacted search traffic for many websites.

Ranking factors for the carousel are quite different from organic search results. Search Engine Journal reported that Google considers its own factors, such as the number of +1s on the Google+ Business Page, to be most influential in determining ranking order.

Similarly, a study done by Digital Marketing Works (DMW) last year concluded that “the quality and quantity of Google reviews are the single most important variable determining inclusion and ranking” in the local carousel.

From a searcher’s perspective, other activity on the Google+ Business Page can contribute to click-through factors in the carousel. Photos and reviews can impact the way a Google+ Page looks when it shows up in the carousel. (A Google+ Page needs around 4 reviews in order to get those fancy stars to show.) User uploaded photos also tend to display in the carousel, which indicates that Pages with which users are interacting and engaging are treated a little better!

Google+ Local Carousel in Search Results

Authorship And Publisher Markup

Authorship and publisher markup can increase your reach on search engines now that semantic markup has been adopted by the major search engines.

Authorship

Google+ Pages and personal profiles can be connected with a website to generate even greater reach on search engines using Publisher and Authorship markup, respectively. As a result, your headshot and Google+ profile stats can show in the search engine results page (SERP) when content you’ve authored ranks!

Google Authorship in Search Results

Google+ Authorship connects a Google+ personal profile to an individual webpage, blog post or article. It’s great for gaining exposure and building a personal brand, especially if you’re in an industry that makes you the face of your business.

You should consider creating a Google+ Profile for yourself and connecting it to quality content you write or distribute online, especially if you are a:

  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Realtor
  • Insurance agent
  • Consultant

Connecting authorship with the content on your entire site is not as valuable as using your authorship on quality content you contribute to other websites or your own blog. Google recently purged its algorithm to limit the amount of times authorship snippets showed in the SERPs.

Publisher

Google+ Publisher connects a Google+ Local page to your website. People searching Google for your business name or other brand signals will be greeted with a “Knowledge Graph” of information pulled from Google+ about your business.

Google+ Publisher Markup Knowledge Graph

When Publisher is implemented correctly, branded searches may show your visual branding, the number of Google+ followers you have, recent Google+ posts and even reviews.

If a page does not actively post content to their page, you may see competitors listed at the bottom of the knowledge graph. All the more reason to keep posting and edge out the competition!

Integration With Other Platforms

Integrating with other platforms like YouTube and Gmail is another great way to get exposure via Google+.

YouTube

Processing over 3 billion searches a month, YouTube became the second largest search engine in the world in 2013 — and I’m sure you’ve heard that Google also owns YouTube. Creating a channel on YouTube now means you have a Google Account, whether you like it or not! Search and social experts will tell you it’s best practice to have all of your Google networks (YouTube, Google+ Local or Business and Google+ Author Profile) all in the same Google Account to increase trust.

If you have videos on YouTube and aren’t yet on Google+, seize the day! Connecting the two helps ensure your videos are predominantly featured on Google+ and vice versa.

Gmail

Something I’ve actually never noticed until recently (seriously? I live in Gmail, how is that possible?) is Google+ integration in Gmail! When I received an email from HootSuite, the cute little owl caught my eye to the right! Google+ Pages are now integrated into Gmail, including a follow button and recent posts.

Gmail GooglePlus Integration

Quick & Easy Tips For Google+ Business Newcomers

  • Design cover photos with responsive design in mind! Without the proper design elements and dimensions in mind, cover photos can look funky due to Google’s responsive design on Google+ pages.
  • Use hashtags in your posts when you’ve got a buzzworthy topic! Google+ will also automatically include hashtags when appropriate, so think about keywords when writing your content and updates.
  • Encourage reviews from your customers on Google+. Reviews increase the authority of your Google+ page and increase the likelihood of ranking well in the local search carousel.
  • Unlike Facebook, Google+ allows you to upload animated GIFs. If your audience is into that kind of stuff, do it!
  • Stay active and add influential people and pages to your circles. +1 and comment on other people’s and pages’ content on Google+ and often they will reciprocate. The more activity and engagement you receive on your content, the more cumulative +1s you receive, and the better Google treats you in search results!
  • Make sure to connect your page with your website.  If you make it easy for people to know you’re on Google+ and connect with you, the +1s will come!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Google | Google: Google+ | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column

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About The Author: is Partner Accounts Team Manager at Search Influence, a national online marketing firm dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses compete online. Alison’s focus is on white label online marketing products for publishers and media partners serving SMBs.



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  • joeyoungblood

    Seems Mike’s keyword list of Local Carousel Queries needs to be updated. At least from Dallas / Arlington queries like; soup, hotel, hotels, movie, russian, courses, nature, fair, and overnight fishing charter (this did appear for Corpus Christi TX) are not showing the local carousel. It seems G might be using an internal algo to determine if they have that type of business in the ‘nearby’ area (not sure how far out that radius is) and if so probably a secondary algo to decide where to show it.

  • http://oirms.com OIRMS

    Very informative article Alison, thanks. Getting started on G+ is so simple yet so many local business owners still fail to see the benefit! Shame for them, great for their comp.

  • I_warned_ya

    Shame on Google for pushing their shills to market Google Plus as a success when the recent increase in user numbers can be solely attributed to a deceptive campaign by Google to co-opt the YouTube user base into g+ by requiring g+ in order to function on YouTube.
    As the result, a bunch of very annoyed creators and viewers on YouTube are utilizing g+ a fraction of amount of time the average Facebook viewer uses their service.
    Any business considering using g+ had better consider doing a bit of homework to avoid buying into a minefield of angry or indifferent users.

  • chartist

    I would also suggest to study FB userbase to get a real picture

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-13/walkthru-explaining-facebooks-millions-fake-users

  • Suzanne

    Thanks for the article, Alison! While we’re well-aware of the benefits of Google+, how can I create a company page WITHOUT creating a personal page first? I personally don’t want Google+ (I’m very selective about what I do on social media), yet as the ‘admin’ person for our social sites at work, I need to set up a Google+ company account. The Google software won’t allow me to do so without first creating my own page. Ugh. Any advice or insight? Thanks!

  • http://plus.google.com/+AlisonZeringue Alison Zeringue

    Hi Suzanne! Thanks for reading!

    Unfortunately, right now there is no way to create a Google+ Page without having a personal profile connected to it. Here’s what I would recommend:
    1) Create a generic Google / Gmail Account that you can use as your admin login to Google+
    2) When creating the account, use a generic name in the first and last name fields on the account (it doesn’t have to be your own but it does need to be a person’s name rather than the Business Name). This will be the name that also shows on the Google+ Profile.
    3) Once created, you can create your Google+ Business Page and add any other Google+ users as admins on the page.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck to you in getting your biz on G+!

  • http://plus.google.com/+AlisonZeringue Alison Zeringue

    I’m sure the list will be constantly evolving! Definitely agree that there are some additional algos happening to determine when and where to show the carousel. I’ve seen some inconsistencies here in NOLA as well!

  • http://www.suncode.pl/ verpentor

    Of course FB has millions of fake users but it also has about billion of real users who spend on average 6 or more hours monthly while G+ spend about 6 minutes monthly (data is from May 2013 but pattern probably hasn’t changed much) http://mashable.com/2013/05/10/google-has-20-million-u-s-monthly-mobile-users-report-says/

  • http://www.fusioninformatics.com/ Jill

    Hi Alison, such a nice article, i’m totally agree with you, Now, google+ is one of the important factor in visibility in google

 

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