Right now, Google officials are quietly meeting with corporate partners to enlist support for the much-anticipated business version of Google+, their new social media platform. Soon (they hope), local businesses will be competing to be “+1s” from customers (similar to a “Like” on Facebook). Here’s a sneak peak at what Google execs are saying:
- Circles: Big G says today’s social media experience is “sloppy” (we only connect with certain people at certain times); “scary” (all online conversations are public); and “insensitive” (we all define friend and family differently). With G+ Circles, you can separate groups of coworkers and customers, which lets you share certain information only with the people it’s meant for.
- Sparks: Sparks is meant to be an online sharing tool that feeds you relevant content from the web. Businesses can use it to stay up to date on important news about an industry, profession or competitor.
- Hangouts: Connecting with others online can be awkward. When someone doesn’t respond to a request, you aren’t sure if they’re not there, or just not interested. Through multi-person video chat, Google+ Hangouts changes the game. For example, businesses can arrange video conferences with up to 10 employees or co-workers; or use Hangouts as your own live customer support line.
- +1: Putting +1 buttons on your website will let customer recommend your business, site, page or content to friends and contacts. Consider it free word of mouth marketing.
- Photo sharing for business: A phone is a perfect collaboration tool for business owners since it’s always with you and always online. But getting photos off your phone is a pain. Google+ instant upload lets users add photos to a private site in the cloud, and even add locations.
- (Also see ShopTalk: Social Media’s “What Local Business Should Know now about Google Plus.”)
The +1 Button is the Key
The +1 button lets users recommend you right on Google search – or from your own site, if you have the button installed. Adding the +1 button to your business website gives customers and other visitors another way to endorse your business or brand. The more +1’s your business collects, the better. Having +1’s will improve search results for your business, product or service, and also give your ads more oomph. It works like this:
1) Julie clicks the +1 button next to your online ad or organic search result about your business. This now becomes a public recommendation, linked to her profile.
2) Her contacts will see a personalized “annotation” (more on this below) on her own search results and ads showing that Julie “+1’d” (pronounced PLUS-ONE’D) it.
Where to Get the Button
Google has created a special page for businesses and webmasters to learn more about the +1 button, download the code and even create customized versions of the button for specific uses. That’s where you’ll find everything you need. Put the button wherever you think it will be most effective. On the top half of the page, near the title of the page, and close to sharing links are good locations. Placing the +1 button at both the end and the beginning of an article or story can also be effective.
How +1 Affects Search Results and Traffic
Basically, +1 helps people find relevant content—a website, a search result, or an ad—from people they know. As G+ expands, the +1 button will appear on more and more websites and ads. You’ll see a +1 button on a Google search result or next to an article you’re reading on a news or industry site.
Adding the +1 button to pages on your own site lets users recommend your content, knowing that their friends and contacts will see their recommendation when it’s most relevant—in the context of their future Google searches (yes, a little scary, but true). Personalized annotations next to your page in search results may increase your site’s visibility and click-through rate. To see how +1 affects your search traffic, try the +1 Metrics tool available in Google Webmaster Tools. Available metrics include:
- Search impact: See the pages on your site that received the most impressions with a +1 annotation, and see how +1 annotations impact click-through rate.
- Activity: See the total number of +1′s received by pages on your site.
- Audience: See aggregated information about people who have +1′d your pages, including the total number of unique users, their location, and their age and gender.
Personalized annotations display the faces of friends and social connections who’ve already +1’d a piece of content. Google tries to display +1’s to people (specifically those in the user’s social connections) who would find them most useful. By making the recommendations more discoverable, users will be more engaged with your site.
How to Stay in the Loop
To preview the latest updates to the Google+ platform, subscribe to the Google+ Platform Preview group. For updates specifically about the +1 button, subscribe to the Google Publisher Buttons Announce Group.
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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.