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Remember the epic launch of Google+? That was already over two years ago… The initial buzz was great - exclusivity had people lined at the door, and invites were  going for $75 on ebay at one point.  Google+ had everyone talking, watching to see if it really would emerge as the Facebook killer or just another Buzz. But it seemed (at least to me) that only one type of community really “got” Google+ at first – techies and the early adopters. And as a brand or business owner, you might have grown tired of waiting for others to show up and refocused your efforts on Facebook or elsewhere.

But that was then. Today, Google+ has become the second largest social network, with over 343 million active users, that can help you reach and build your tribe more effectively than ever. Here are some reasons you need to take Google+ from being an afterthought to high priority today.

Future of search and the role of Google+

It’s a spam filled world out there. With over 60 trillion pages on the web, Google needs a way to distinguish what’s useful and what’s not, and it’s using Google+ to do it. It pulls signals from your Google+ profile – Page Rank, shares, followers, recency and frequency of posts – to determine the weight your listings, content, and website is given in different search real estate.

Amplify your content

Content marketing, which includes blogposts, look books, guides, whitepapers, are great sources of inbound traffic. But you could be publishing the best content in the world, but without amplification, it’s being wasted! Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come. You need to bring the content to them, and the best place to start is Google, where 67% of searchers still go first to find answers. Google+ posts and photos are indexed in search results, and a recent study from SEW showed that sharing your content on Google+ drives faster discovery and indexation. Google+ specific features like Authorship allow you to display your profile photo, name, follower count and byline next to your article in search results, helping your article stand out and increase click through.

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Dominate local search

Google Places is now fully transitioned into Google+ Local. Local Google+ pages function as regular G+ pages, but with added social functionality like hangouts, sharing content and posts, and creating circles. In addition to social networking, this gives local businesses the chance to “beef up” their listing for a better chance to compete in local search results. The number of reviews, recency and frequency of posts, follower count and quality all play a factor in your visibility.

Additional search real estate

Google+ is becoming more and more integrated into Google’s other offerings. Recent posts and business snippets are pulled into the knowledge graph, seen to the right of search results. Google+ profiles can appear in inboxes with an invitation to the G+ page or a recent post. It’s even integrated into Adwords, where a new ad extension called “social annotations” allows advertisers to display follower count in  ads to increase click through.

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Google+ in Gmail 

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Google+ posts in knowledge graph 

Powerful tools

A handful of powerful marketing tools come wrapped in a clean, modern and underappreciated UI. Circles offer flexible filtering options that separate signal from the noise. For the most part, G+ is an ad free zone. Viewing photos, videos, gifs is a gorgeous HD experience. Hangouts on Air are the new webinar, with automatic uploading to Youtube (and HD coming soon). G+ is a powerful SEO tool in itself, with the ability to earn and pass page rank (more on Google+ optimization to come in a future post).

This only scratches the surface of what brands are doing with Google+ today, and you can bet the social network’s influence on all things Google will continue to grow. What are you waiting for?

 

 

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