Google co-founder, Larry Page, stated that Google will ignore those who ignore the Google+ platform. This seems to indicate that not only does Google favor its own social network, but the search engine also penalizes other platforms. In fact, an anti-trust suit was filed against the search engine giant with the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 that challenged the company’s practice of promoting Google+ content in a biased way in SERPs at that time. As of 2014, page ranking in Google search results is most assuredly biased in favor of Google+ content.
In 2011, Facebook blocked Google’s indexing access from personal pages on the platform. Instead, Facebook implements its own search on the site. However, Facebook Fan pages, also known as business pages, are indexed by the search engine and displayed in SERPs, but Google+ pages take precedence over Facebook fan pages in SERPs.
Facebook has recently begun to pull back on the number views of business pages formerly found by their search feature. Unhappy fan page administrators began to notice a decrease in the number of their page fans who actually received new posts from the fan page in their feeds. In fact, Facebook recently disclosed that only 15 percent of a fan page’s followers will see any given message posted to the page. Facebook indeed acknowledged the decrease in traffic to fan pages, and for a price, Facebook will now increase the reach of the pages. As Facebook becomes less and less valuable for business owners, Google+ can fill the void, enhancing your site’s page ranking and increasing traffic to your site.
Twitter profiles are also indexed by Google. If the keyword “Twitter” is not used in the search phrase, Google+ results are placed higher in the SERPS than Twitter results. This standard also applies to other social networks, such as Instagram and Foursquare, as well. The bottom line is this: If you are not yet using Google+ to promote your brand or product, you are losing rank in the SERPs to other businesses that do use the Google+ platform.
Google+ is much more than a social platform in competition with Twitter and Facebook. Google+ has become the centralized location that is created when a user opens a Google account for any of Google’s products. If a user simply wants to create a Gmail account, a Google+ space is automatically provisioned for him. He can choose to simply use his Gmail account, but his Google+ site collects data from Gmail or any of the Google services he uses. The user can remain logged in to the Google platform, and then access any Google service without entering his credentials.
The Google+ platform shares common terms with other social networks. For example, a hashtag on Twitter is the same as a hashtag on Google+. However, Google+ owns it’s own set of terminology specific to the platform.
A Google+ stream is the timeline that you see when you log in to the platform. This stream displays content posted by those you follow in chronological format; the most recent post is at the top.
Google+ supports the creation of circles, or groups of contacts you can pull from your contact lists for networking and collaboration on the platform. You can create circles around topics, interests, family members or friends and acquaintances. If your business’ target audience is local, you may want to create a circle specifically for local business interests.
Extended circles are created by a Google+ proprietary algorithm based on your followers, the content you like and those who follow you.
You can create a local Google+ page if your business depends on local customers. Your local page includes pertinent information about your business, such as location, hours and our business phone number. By creating a local page on the platform, your business will display high in the SERPs for people searching for similar businesses in your area.
Hangouts are video conferences that you can broadcast to your friends and followers. Hangouts are free to use, and provide a convenient alternative to other platforms, such as WebEx. Hangouts on the Air, or “HOAs,” are broadcasted content that your viewers can access live, or they can view the recorded presentation at their leisure.
You can also create a community around your brand or product to answer questions and interact with potential customers.
The Google+ feature presents the user with a variety of features, but learning all the bells and whistles can take an investment of time. The Hangout feature is a free web-based conferencing platform for meetings, presentations and live events.
Google+ centralizes all of Google’s products into one location for quick and easy access. The Google+ platform provides the identity service that enables users to access all Google products when logged in to the platform. The identity service feature makes using Google products convenient and unobtrusive.
One of the best features of the Google+ platform is Google Authorship. When a Google+ user writes a post or article, the article appears in Google search results with the author’s Google+ profile photo next to the SERP entry. Google Authorship authors enjoy preferred ranking in search results.
Many users report in the forums that they feel Google has forced Google+ on them. For example, the commenting function on YouTube was replaced by the Google+ commenting system in 2013. YouTube commenters must now log in to Google+ to comment on a video. Users across the board were not happy with the change. Even the co-creator of the YouTube platform expressed his disdain for the forced integration.
If you promote a brand or product, maintaining a presence on Google+ is necessary to get the most out of your SEO/SEM efforts. Not only does Google favor its own social network, but the current Google search algorithm places an emphasis on social sharing of content. Content shared from the Google+ platform carries more weight in the SERPs than content shared from other social networks.
Whether users willingly create their Google+ space, or they are forced to provision their Google+ sites by gaining access to one of the other Google services, the fact remains that the platform has taken its place as the second largest global social network – second only to Facebook. If you are tasked with promoting a brand or product, establishing a presence on Google+ is absolutely necessary.
If there is one assumption that can be made by all Google business users, it is the assumption that Google favors its own social network, Google+. When prioritizing your social media marketing efforts, you cannot omit Google+ from the equation and remain competitive in the SERPs. If you manage client accounts and you are not using Google+ as part of your social media marketing strategy, your clients are actively losing page rank. Don’t delay! Get your clients on the Google+ as soon as possible.