Despite a sluggish start, Google+ has risen to claim its place as the second-most popular social network in the world. As of December 2012, the social network has 500 million users. While Circles and Hangouts might have confused or intimidated people at first, they’ve slowly come around, and it’s likely this has a lot to do with Facebook’s recent decline.
Google+ Makes You Visible
Whether your post shows up in someone’s stream as soon as they log in because they’re added you to their circles or a link you’ve added appears above search results when Google users use personalized search, Google’s social network is a boon. Google takes note of what content is being shared. Going viral on Google+ doesn’t just limit your visibility to the social network, then. Your newest product or a question you posted to followers can catapult your page to the top of the search engine results pages, and this is what you need to see the most traffic from the world’s largest search engine.
It’s more than that, though. When you add your website link(s) to your Google+ profile and a snippet of code to your website, your author information appears below your search results. This lends credibility to the content you post online and sets apart your results from the rest. You can increase your reach without spending a dime. Who doesn’t like the sound of that? It’s up to you to convert that traffic increase to sales, customers or signups, however.
Google’s Social Network Thus Far
Facebook’s “Like” feature immediately became a success, and others wanted to take advantage of this. So Google implemented +1, a function quite similar that allowed users to show others that they enjoyed content on the Internet. Originally, you would have to manually add a link or widget on your website, while Google services such as Reader added the +1 button to make it easier for users to show their approval.
This feature naturally became part of Google+, which launched to users via invitation-only in June 2011. In September, Google opened the service to everyone 18 years or older. The focus on real identities means Google frowns upon aliases, and the difference between pages and profiles has always been more clear than with Facebook.
The Future of Google Plus
There’s no doubt that this social network will continue to grow and Google will continue to integrate Google+ and +1s into other products and services. Because Google+ is so advantageous for website owners and SEO constantly changes, people who are smart about promoting their websites will continue to sign up. Of course, this will encourage other users to join Google Plus as they realize that it’s a source of information and entertainment.
The shift away from Facebook — in light of increasing spam and advertisements — also looks good for Google+. Privacy concerns will also push users to Google+, which only helps your visibility. Your customers, potential business partners and employees are already on Google+. However, the fact that Google is still growing means that your competition might not yet be on the social network, so you’re wasting a valuable opportunity if you haven’t yet hopped on the Google+ bandwagon. No matter the size of your company or the goals of your business, you need a Google+ page.