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What Does Google+ Pages for Business Mean for Search Marketers?

November 14, 2011

Google Plus

After all the waiting, Google finally introduced Google+ Pages for business last week, and since then there’s been a big rush by companies to claim their page.

When Google+ first launched, I explored some implications for search marketers. But with last week’s announcement, how might Google+ Business Pages also impact search?

1. Google+ Brand Pages in Search Engines

One thing I love about branded searches is guaranteed, quality traffic to your site. Now Google wants some of that action too.  

Google will be including Google+ Pages in search results, but it doesn’t end there. They are also introducing a new feature called Direct Connect which allows searchers to directly connect with your Google+ Business Page, simply by searching for “+[company name]” (ie: it takes searchers to your Google+ brand page instead of directly to your website).

Macy’s Google+ Brand Page in Search

So make sure you grab hold of your company name page, particularly since no real verification is needed to claim a brand in Google+ (unless you are a mega brand, that is). It seems that right now, anyone can set up a business page for a brand (whether they are related to your business or not), so make it clear that your page is the official one. Also pay attention to your “About” section – include your website address and make use of the “Recommended Links” section on the right nav.

2. Business Popularity by the Number

All search marketers know that links have an important impact on rank — it’s a good indicator of content relevance and popularity and it helps to differentiate your website pages from other competing websites. Unlike page elements (such as title tags, heading tags, alt tags etc.), good quality links are not as easy to control, manipulate or copy.

Social indicators of business popularity and relevance (such as likes, tweets, and now +1’s) have always been the logical next step. But unlike Facebook likes and Tweet counts, Google owns the firehose of +1 data. We’d be naive to think that this won’t have the potential to impact business rankings within future SERPs.

3. +1 Your Site

According to Google, business pages will have an overall +1 count which will reflect not only the people who have +1’d your business page, but also all the people who have +1′d content on all the pages in your entire website.

So if +1 does become a part of Google’s ranking algorithm (and I probably wouldn’t wait to find out), then it’s time to get a move on with adding those official +1 buttons to your website and your page content, especially since the buttons help to send site traffic your way anyway. A recent Hubspot report found that websites that used the Google +1 button generated 3.5 times more traffic from Google+ than websites that didn’t have the button.

Additionally, with Google displaying +1 counts next to page results in the SERP, how are they influencing click behavior? For example, if the Number 1 result had no +1 information associated with it and the Number 5 result had hundreds of +1’s, are searchers going to follow the masses and click on the lower result which appeared more popular? 

Some early research indicates that results with +1 information does lead to higher click-through rates compared to results without. With this in mind, it seems a top result without +1 information would find it hard to maintain position. Whereas lower results with high social approval have good potential to move up the SERP.

4. Circles and Page Posts

With circles, there are definite opportunities to target certain posts to specific groups of customers or stakeholders through your business page.

However, before you can add people to circles, they need to add your Google+ Page first. This means that getting the word out about your page and adding regular, interesting content and discussion, will help to encourage following — similar to other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

This typically takes time to build up though, so the immediate opportunity is to make your Google+ Page posts public so that Google knows to index your content publicly to appear in search results. As you share content on your page, remember to keep social signals in mind by pairing appropriate keywords with links in your posts, as well as building up those +1’s and shares to show content popularity. 

5. Product Category Pages

With Google+ Pages, you can set up more than one page for a business. One area which is particularly interesting is Product pages.

With Product pages, questions start to arise, including:

  • Will Google start to draw links between business popularity and respective product category popularity to determine rank?
  • Will the most popular product pages eventually start showing in the SERP above standard HTML pages?
  • Will product pages have their own dedicated vertical in the SERP or be blended into results, similar to video? 
  • Will product pages eventually be incorporated into the the Direct Connect feature?

…So many questions! What thoughts do you have?

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