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Google Plus was launched in 2011, and while it may have had a slow start in terms of user activity, in the last few years it’s seen significant growth in terms of usability and popularity. It also seems that both local and global businesses have taken notice, as more and more companies have started taking advantage of Google Plus’s capabilities in order to broadcast their voice and vision to both existing and potential customers.

If you’re wondering whether Google Plus might be able to do the same for you and your business, this blog post will help you to get started.

What is Google+?

Many people assume incorrectly that Google Plus is a social network, similar to Facebook or Twitter. Google Plus specifically for businesses is known as Google My Business (GMB). While Google Plus does share some similar features with those websites, it’s not so much a social networking website as it is a social ‘blanket’ or ‘layer.’ Essentially, Google Plus is a complementary platform that optimises the existing Google experience, by allowing users to share digital content with each other within the context of different Google services.

Benefits of Google My Business?

There are a number of reasons why so many businesses have jumped aboard the Google Plus bandwagon. With over 540 million active users as of October 2013, Google Plus presents a prime opportunity for companies to promote brand awareness, interact with customers, release on-brand content, keep an eye on competitor activity, and create hype around new campaigns and products. Accruing Google +1’s is also a great way to help the content you post on your Google+ page to rank higher on Google search results.

Google My Business allows you to:

  • Update your business information on Search, Maps and Google+ from one convenient place, making it quick and easy for your customers to get in touch.
  • Manage the information for multiple locations with Google My Business Locations.
  • Connect directly with customers by sharing news, events and other important updates from your Google+ page.
  • Stay on top of reviews of your business or brand from Google and across the web.
  • Use custom insights and integration with Google Analytics and AdWords Express to help you understand how people find and interact with your business.

Getting Started

To use Google My Business, you firstly need to create a Google+ page.

  1. Local business pages allow your business information to be shown in Google Search, Google Earth, and other Google properties. If you need to add information about different locations, you can do so using Google My Business Locations. Choose from one of two types of local pages when you set up a Google My Business account:

Storefront businesses – if you serve customers at your business location and you want customers to be able to find you on Google Maps. e.g. restaurants, cafes, retail stores.

Service area businesses – if you serve customers at their location within a specific service area, and you want your customers to see this service area on Google Maps. e.g. electricians, taxi services, food delivery companies.

  1. Brand pages are ideal for brands, organisations, artists, or other groups or individuals. They allow you to create Google+ pages so that you can interact with followers, fans and customers on Google. Unlike local business pages, brand pages don’t contain physical location information that appears on Google Maps.

Tips for Using Google+ for Business

  • Link your business website to your Google+ page. This will not only create an inbound link from your Google+ page to your website, but will also create allow your Google+ page to appear on the right hand side of Google search results whenever your business or brand is searched for.
  • Optimise the About menu on your Google+ page. When filling out the Story section, don’t forget to target brand-relevant keywords in your description. Be sure to also include links to your social media channels and other relevant websites in the Links section.
  • Optimise your Google+ cover photo. Using high quality images that have the rightdesign elements and dimensions on your Google+ page will help to increase engagement levels and reflect positively on your brand or business.
  • Publish content regularly. If you’re already sharing your content via other social media accounts, it’s a good idea to start cross-posting this content to your business’s Google+ page as well. Not only does your Google+ page provide another channel through which to amplify your content, but Google also favours Google+ social signals over those of Facebook and Twitter, which often block Google from accessing their data. Don’t forget to use hashtags as well when discussing a hot topic!
  • Stay active. Interacting with other Google+ people and pages, responding to comments on your own page, and participating in Google+ circles and communities can help to increase your brand or business’s profile on Google and across the web, and get people talking about your work.
  • Sync up your brand or business Youtube channel with your Google+ page. If you’re putting the time and effort into creating video content, this is an easy way to broadcast your work and potentially increase your video views.

If you’re looking for a way to promote brand awareness, amplify your content assets and interact with audiences across Google’s many platforms, Google My Business offers a prime opportunity for you to do so. By taking the time to optimise and update your Google+ page, you’ll ultimately be making your business or brand more engaging, accessible and appealing to your customers.

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