I’ll be the first to admit that I have neglected Google+ and as a small business owner, I was definitely in the wrong. I stuck with the networks I knew how to operate, like Facebook and Twitter, instead of going to where a small business could get the most value – Google+. Here are my top 6 reasons why small business owners need to stop avoiding and undervaluing Google+.
1. The SEO Value
I’m surprised by how many small businesses don’t realize the amazing SEO power of Google+. When a user “+1’s” your business or content on Google+, you get higher search rankings and those pages are indexed quicker! Another tip for a small business is that when you create your business page using Google Pages you make sure to spend the time to verify your business. When you do this, your logo, reviews, and basic contact information all show up at the top of location-based Google searches. You can see an example below from a local search for safety supplies in Union, Missouri:
Use a keyword-rich tagline, all of your contact information, and make sure that users have a clear understanding of what you do for them. And remember that Google rewards pages that are well linked so be sure to include links back to your main website as well as other social networks in which you are present.
2. Connect with Customers and Potential Partners
Unlike Facebook, on Google+ a small business can connect with local people and other businesses. As a small business owner, I can use my Google+ page for Nissen Media to circle local businesses in my community and nearby that might need my services as well as find the owners of those businesses, fellow marketers in my area, and potential partners to start building relationships. On Facebook I have to wait for them to come to me and like my page – and even then I have to wait for them to comment on the page or on a post before I can get a conversation happening – not on Google+! I can circle them and make the 1st move.
3. Organize Your Circles
On Google+, I can keep my connections sorted into circles of people. It’s nice to stay organized with all of my networking group members in one group, all of my current clients in another, past clients in another, prospects, local businesses, and on and on and on. Twitter gives you the option to create lists – which I love too – but your circles on Facebook are more readily accessible. By going to the Stream on Google+ from your Page you can flip between the feeds for all of your circles with one click. Below is an example of the feed from the social media influencers I follow on Google+ for Nissen Media. At the top you’ll see where “Social Media” is in bold and underlined as that’s the current circle stream I’m viewing. You can also see a few of my circles on either side of it.
4. Google Hangouts are Free
As a small business owner, I can market my expertise by creating a free webinar using Google Hangout on Air. I can set up the Hangout and schedule it in just a few simple steps and then I can start inviting people right away. As a participant in a Google Hangout you can connect with industry influencers, potential partners and others you see a benefit in connecting with online.
Lots of business are good about asking for reviews and testimonials to place on their website. But, have you asked them to review you over on Google+? These reviews show up in search results and help you stand out. Check out the image below and tell me which heating and cooling company in Washington, Missouri stands out:
Did Jim’s Heating and Cooling catch your eye? I bet it did! That’s because they’re active with social media, including Google+ and ask their customers to review them there. That 4.6 out of 5 rating shows up with lots of bright stars that immediately draw your eye to them. If you have direct competitors in your area that would show up in a location-based search – use Google reviews to stand out.
6. Google+ is Mobile
Most of us use our mobile device regularly to look up locations on the map with Google Maps being a big player in that. When a person searches for a local business, they can see all of your contact information including office hours inside of Google Maps when you utilized your Google+ Page and embedded it with Google Maps. This integration is a must for small businesses that want to be found online by local customers.
There you have it – my 6 reasons why small businesses need to stop shying away from Google+. The benefits are numerous and while the users of the site are not as active then other social networks, the other benefits including SEO and reviews are well worth spending the time on. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity with Google+ for your small business.