The new Google+ social network has been growing rapidly now that it has been opened up to the public. People keep asking if it can compete with Facebook and Twitter. Even many internet marketing “pros” are still trying to dismiss it, saying that it won’t significantly impact their traditional SEO and marketing methods. That sounds like whistling past the graveyard.
How could they really believe that Google+ and Plus One buttons would NOT impact the evolving world of social search marketing?!
In the days before big box retailers and online shopping, consumers often chose to do business with people who were friendly, remembered their name, their family… they were “friends”. That is harder to find now, especially when your customers may be all over the world – unless you are actively involved in whatever social network your customers are using. Get to know your audience – and let them get to know you! Like Facebook and other social media, Google+ and the +1 button help make doing business on the web much more personal – and it is right there in Google where everyone is looking for everything.
The search engine marketing nay-sayers are not seeing the big picture – or they just don’t want to see it since it means they will have to do more than just old school keyword manipulation and link buying. Or maybe it is because they only see social networks as another way to spam with one way outbound communication like they used to with email marketing, rather than engaging customers with interaction and conversation.
It is not as if Google launched its social network simply to compete with Facebook for your time. It is part of a much broader effort to improve all things Google – the search engine, Google Apps, and especially collaborative services by making everything more personal and less mechanical. Many businesses already use Google Apps to manage their email, Google Docs and other productivity services to share information and collaborate on all sorts of things. Just about every business has a Google Places page, too.
So what do you suppose will happen when Google launches Google+ for Businesses?
Think about it – this will be like Facebook business pages, but developed by the folks who already “get it” when it comes to business web presence. Some businesses already function pretty nicely without a traditional website by using Facebook. Imagine what you will be able to do with a full featured Google+ business profile! Collaboration, business “huddles”, video conferencing, email, document sharing, marketing, advertising, special promotions like in Google Places and Adwords, CRM, social outreach, blogging, and of course the search engine itself… all under one roof. And since it is all Google, you can safely bet that a strong presence in Google+ and related services is going to help your search engine results if that is all that matters to you.
Do you need to change your online marketing strategy right now? Maybe not right this second, but keep looking ahead. SEO, search marketing and Google change constantly. A few months ago many websites fell off the radar in the search engine because Google changed in a way that made shallow, weak content and equally shallow methods of search engine optimization ineffective. The web is improving and moving forward. Future-proof your marketing so you can keep moving forward too.
UPDATE: Google+ Pages are now available, along with this new badge: