Earlier this year, we began putting together a strategic recommendation for our clients on Google+ Pages for Business. This new solution blends elements of popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter with social sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube, integrating search engine optimization and marketing into the Google network of sites.
While they were new and trendy, Google+ Pages had several flaws. Most of the immediate flaws have since been addressed, including the ability to add multiple page managers and verification with site and organization. However even though Google claims 90 million Google Plus users and a 60% engagement rate, these numbers feel suspect.
A recent article from eMarketer highlighted the fact that users spent an average of 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January 2012, a drop from 5.1 minutes in November 2011 and 4.8 minutes in December. Could the shine be wearing off?
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Still, the article identifies the fact that 62 of the top 100 brands according to Interbrand (as determine by financial performance) have verified pages with Google Plus. These organizations contributed over 5,000 updates over the past 90 days (November 11, 2011 through March 13, 2012) and 250,000 points of engagement (comments, “pluses”, and shares).
The article infers that as “users get settled into their desks and check in on various social networks, they are starting to include Google+ in the mix.”. Google+ as a mainstream social media platform has a way to go, but any reports of its demise are certainly exaggerated.
Our latest newsletter focused on Google+ Pages for Business. We believe Google+ Pages for Business will become significant, and require the B2B marketer’s attention. Not necessarily because of its impact on B2B marketing, but because it represents a fundamental shift in the search engine marketing landscape.
Below are some key takeaways:
- KoMarketing Recommendation: KoMarketing Associates recommends the creation, marketing, and ongoing management of Google+ Pages for Business, but it is also important to understand that there are several key factors involved.
- Google+ Page Significance: What makes Google+ Pages for Business significant to search marketers is the impact Google+ pages, individual page updates, and even Google+ profiles associated with that page or company could have on organic keyword visibility over the long term (traditional and personalized search engine results).
- What About Google+ Profiles? Google+ and Google+ Pages for Business are two different but directly-related entities. Unlike Facebook Pages, the network between Google+ Pages for Business and individual Google profiles can be much more closely connected, particularly when it pertains to search engine optimization and overall marketing communication.
- The Search Algorithm: Google is trying to lessen its emphasis on what SEOs understand to be the “link graph” (roughly how a domain or site is seen by search engines) as it pertains to the site/domain’s overall importance, in comparison to other sites and domains. This is one of the fundamental principles that has guided Google’s ranking algorithm through the last decade.
- Links versus Social Networking: By developing a social networking platform and garnering widespread integration, Google is better able to change its search algorithm to be less reliant on how links work, as well as understand how people search and how they interact with their “social network.”
- Social Networking for B2B Marketing: The development of any social networking community—Google+ Circles, Facebook Fans, etc.—could become a potential alternative to the traditional communication channels (online and offline) marketers have been leveraging for years—newsletters, email, direct mail, advertising, etc. When users add you to their circles, or indicate that they “Like” your Facebook Page, they are “opting in” to receiving your message.
- Strategic Decisioning: From the long-term perspective, Google is making a strategic business decision to develop a competitive social networking product, blending elements of social profile information (business and personal) with implications on both organic and paid search engine marketing initiatives.
- Business Impact: The reasons for Google’s direct objective are simple: Google is an advertising platform that now has immediate competition with organizations of significant financial resources and user reach. Competitors like Facebook and Apple cut into user attention, putting limitations on the opportunity for users to click into advertisements run on Google networks.
- The Long-Term Impact: The big question is whether searchers will embrace this platform enhancement, spending more time and attention on Google, or if we’re seeing the slow decline (or at least stabilization) of Google’s influence as technology and user preference shifts and evolves.
A complete PDF document of our analysis and recommendation can be found here and we would welcome your subscription to our free newsletter, published on a quarterly basis. Our newsletter provides insight into our company’s well-being and growth, and recommendations based on current trends and opportunities in the B2B search engine marketing and social media space.