On June 28, 2011, Google launched a new social network called Google+ (Google Plus). At the time of this writing, it’s been entertaining humanity’s desire to add people to social “circles” for 21 days and has amassed over 10 million users (some estimates put Google+ at over 20 million users). Given that it took Facebook about two years to reacha similar user base, the growth rate of Google+ looks like an early indicator of success.
In order to achieve and maintain digital relevance, it is essential that web sites and brands make similar efforts to engage socially online with their visitors and clients. Considering Google+’s staggering growth rate and what that may mean for search, the CLASS practitioners here at Slingshot SEO have a few general observations and recommendations for clients.
- Google+ is just for individuals - for now
Observation: At the time of this writing, there is no official way for a business to create a Google+ page. And, for the time being, Google will even delete accounts it identifies as businesses. However, it plans to launch a business-oriented update to Google+ before the end of the year and it is currently in beta testing.
Recommendation: Join Google+ for individuals and familiarize yourself with the interface and Google+ specific features; e.g., circles, hangouts, etc. Be prepared to make a decision about whether or not to incorporate Google+ for business into your social marketing mix.
- Deploy the Google+ “plus 1” button strategically
Observation: Page load speed is a confirmed ranking factor and social buttons slow down web pages. Share, Retweet, Stumble, etc., and now Google “plus 1” buttons increase the load time of web pages.
Recommendation: Make every effort to speed up your web site before implementing social buttons; e.g, set cache dates, compress resources, etc. After optimizing your site for speed, the decrease in page speed brought on by social buttons is then a reasonable trade off for the potential increase in social conversions. Finally, deploy social buttons like Google “plus 1” strategically and on content that is subjectively “shareable” like blog posts, infographics, and press releases.
- Talk about Google+ in your marketing meetings
Observation: Deserving brands have content that can be shared socially. Google has direct access to the signals surrounding Google+ and the content contained within. Social signals like the ones found in and surrounding Google+ have been shown to contribute to the indexation and discovery of content by search engine spiders.
Recommendation: Future-proof your brand's SEO strategy by keeping up with new digital signals. Talk about these signals with your marketing team and specifically make sure your team understands how to incorporate Google+ into your content promotion strategy. Start "plussin" your content on Google+.
Typically, Slingshot SEO remains platform agnostic when it comes to social; i.e., at this point, no platform is absolutely critical to obtaining digital relevance valued by search engines. However, with Google's most recent entry into the social platform space, Google+, it is Slingshot SEO's view that every digital marketing professional should understand the features and benefits of the platform in regard to achieving and maintaing digital relevance. In short term, continue to engage current and potential customers on social platforms were they are present and don't be surprised if Google+ signals will one day impact search algorithms.