Should I Create a Google+ Business Page?
If you have a business, the short answer is yes. However a less clear decision is how much you should invest into a Google+ Business page. Businesses struggling with the demands of Twitter and Facebook, may not relish the idea of engaging with yet another social network. However Google+ has some clear SEO benefits that you shouldn’t ignore.
Personal Google+ Pages are the Stars
There is a lot more you can do with a personal Google+ page than a Business page. So if you are unsure where to put more of your effort, the personal page is a clear win. Here are a few reasons why:
- You have more few fields that you can optimize for SEO. Keywords in the Introduction, Employment, Education or Places Lived all seem to help with ranking your page for both regular Google search as well as search within the Google+ ecosystem. For the business page you primarily have the Tagline and Introduction fields to work with.
- Business pages can’t circle people first. One way to grow your network is to circle people that you find interesting with the hope they will circle you back. Unfortunately as a business page you can’t circle people unless they first circle you. You can only circle other businesses. This limits your ability to grow organically as you will have to promote your page in some way to grow its followers. One thought is that if you have an established twitter presence you can promote your page there. UPDATE (October 2013)! Business pages can now circle people first.
- Google Authorship is limited to personal pages. I’ve written before on Google Authorship and what a clear win it is. Google Authorship is limited to “real” people, and is not available for business or brands directly.
Personal pages also seem to rank better for searches, however this could change. Businesses that verify their pages may have an advantage in search, if not now then perhaps in the future. However verifying your page requires you to not only add the
rel=publisher tag to your website, but also to have 1,000 followers (people who have circled your business). One easy way to add the tag to your website is to generate a Google+ badge for your website, it has the
rel=publisher tag in the code. If only getting to 1000 followers was as easy.
By now you are wondering why I recommended creating a Google+ business page. The reason is that any business that has an established brand should reserve its name everywhere online it can; for reputation management reasons but also to lay down the framework for further expansion. If you later find that there is a real audience for your business on Google+, then it will be easier to build on top of an existing page that has a presence (albeit limited) presence. And even if your page isn’t very powerful, it’s still a link to your website.
And while it depends on where your audience is, a Google+ business page has some clear advantages over a Facebook page. It’s better for SEO, and it’s a far less noisy and (right now) competitive space. Early adopters in tech oriented businesses are making the switch and having success.
Build your Google+ Business Page
Like a Facebook fan page, a Google+ business page has a cover photo as well as a smaller profile image. For some brands fitting their logo so that it displays well in the circular profile graphic might be a challenge. General rule of thumb for the profile image is 200 by 200 pixels.
Profile / About Page
The about page is an excellent place to place keywords and links.
- Tagline: Use keywords and short phrases to describe your business or products.
- Introduction: Think of this like an extended Twitter bio, except that the any keywords placed here will matter a lot more for whether your page ranks, particularly for Google+ searches. And here you have a wonderful opportunity to add dofollow links with rich anchor text. You can also use bold and italics to help your Introduction stand out to the reader.
- Links: Not only do you want to add your website here, but you can also add custom links (again you have control of the anchor text) to your other social media profiles and websites.
Optimizing Your Google+ Posts
The below tips apply to posts both on business and personal Google+ pages:
- You can put as many links (which are dofollow) into the post you want, just type the URL in.
- Always post to Public unless you are targeting a specific offer to an audience.
- Put keywords into your posts – especially at the beginning.
- Bold your important phrases and words by placing “*” around the phrase. Helps catch the eye and Google may use it for the title tag.
- Use hashtags to highlight shareable keywords, Google+ will auto generate hashtags for your posts, you can remove them if irrevelant. Clicking on the hashtag will show other posts with the hashtag.
- If possible, make sure the page you are posting enables social snippets. Google+ will recognize and use the OpenGraph (Facebook) meta tags. Schema.org tagging will work too.
Engagement with Google+
Of course all of the above tips are much more powerful if you have a broad reach on Google+, the key SEO factors are:
- You are in a lot of circles
- Your content gets shared extensively
- Your content gets +1s
If you don’t have much of a presence on Google+ then all the bolding and links tips I have shared above will have limited impact. Ditto if you share content that isn’t excellent and engaging. But you don’t have to hit a home run with every post. Fresh and consistent posting will be in your favor as well. Like Facebook you can drive more engagement if you reference people in your posts using either “+” and “@” in front of their username to catch their interest.
One useful feature you can use to monitor the reach of your posts is Google+ Ripples.
If you are just starting out, you’ll find the Ripples are not that interesting, however you can look at Ripples for people in your niche that have a wider influence and see who are active in their network. Another tool to check out is circlecount.com . Getting to know who shares your passions and interests is key to social media.
Resources and Credits:
Update October 21, 2013: Recent changes have made Google+ business pages more powerful. Google now allows business pages to circle people first. And business pages can host a Hangout on Air which records your streamed Hangout to a YouTube video.
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