Content Marketing Blog

Google+ for dummies

Google+ has been around since 2011, but it tends to get far less attention from marketers than Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Its 1 billion registered users and the fact that it’s Google-owned means it’s part of the social media Big 4, but it’s probably the network you know the least about.

So, to help put that right I’ve created this Google+ for dummies guide, which will give you an introduction to the basics of Google+. Hopefully it will helpful when you’re deciding where to spend your social media dollars.


What is Google+?

Google+ is a social media platform owned by Google where individuals and businesses can create pages, connect with one another and share, promote and endorse content. Google+ introduced the concept of Circles, which allows you to restrict some of your updates to particular groups (work colleagues, family, uni friends etc).

Users can “+1” posts on Google+, which is the equivalent of liking something on Facebook. You’ve probably seen that little red “+1” button around the web, particularly on blog posts and other shareable content. If you’re signed in to your Google+ account while you’re browsing the web you can “+1” content you like.


Google+ in numbers

Everyone loves a good stat so here’s a quick look at some numbers for Google+:

  • Google+ has over 1 billion users but only around one third of those users are active (Social Media Today)
  • 63% of Google+ users are men (Tone)
  • 1.5 billion pictures are uploaded to Google+ every week (Social Media Slant)
  • Lady Gaga is the most popular Google+ user with 8.9 million followers (Circle Count)


Why you should join Google+

If you have a Gmail account, chances are you already have a Google+ account even if you don’t use it. Google+ grew much faster than rival social platforms managed during their early years, but actual usage and engagement have proved a little trickier.

One of the problems Google+ faced as a latecomer to the social media space is that the people it was targeted already had multiple profiles to maintain. The case for adding another online presence had to be really compelling and that’s an ongoing challenge for Google+.

One of the features Google hoped would cut through the reluctance of users to add to their social media workload was Google+ Hangouts. With Hangouts you can easily set up video conferences with your friends and while this isn’t unique to Google+ it offers a slick interface and is well integrated into the chat function in Gmail.


Why you should add your business to Google+

If individual users took some convincing, Google had an even tougher time convincing time-poor marketers and business owners to find some money and resources for a Google+ strategy. The link between search and social media (even Google+) is never clear cut and it would be wrong to think popularity on Google+ will propel your business to the top of Google’s search results.

But posting new content to Google+ will get it noticed and indexed faster. That’s worth doing if you publish a lot of new content but have a small or recently-created website. Google+ is also a good way to get yourself in local search, which you’ll want to do if the physical location of your business is important  to your customers.


Why Google+ authorship still matters

Authorship looked like it would be the killer feature that drove more activity and engagement on Google+. The idea was to let authors put their name on their content using their Google+ profile as a sort of universal byline. It would allow them to build a portfolio of online content that would feed a personal domain authority or “AuthorRank”.

Bloggers, influencers and frankly anyone who could string a sentence together (or hire someone to do it on their behalf) jumped on authorship on the assumption that it would become an important search signal. Recent changes to how authorship links appear in search seem to have poured cold water on that idea.

It’s worth noting though that the information is still being collected, so, if you use authorship, Google can still see what you publish today in the context of what you’ve published in the past. Our content strategists still like Google+ authorship and expect it to make a comeback in the future.


Ready to give it a try?

If you’d like to know more about Google+, you can watch our video on the recent changes to Google+ Authorship or check out the official Google+ intro pages.

By Emma Smith