For years, there have been Google+ naysayers going head to head with people who swear the Google social media platform is slated to overtake Facebook. However, the only real answer is: It couldn’t hurt. You can’t compare Google+ to Facebook or any other social media platform because, simply put, it’s not the same thing and it has an entirely different goal. Google+ isn’t where you’ll be having lengthy conversations with your customers or where you’ll be sharing viral content, photos from your latest in-store event, or drumming up “likes”. It is, however, an incredibly simple and fast platform to get on.
For business owners who haven’t spent a little time on their Google+ profile yet, know that it can be pretty much complete in under ten minutes. There’s no place to list your favorite music, a smorgasbord of your favorite quotes, or “like” a bunch of movies and television shows. The profile section is short, sweet and to the point. However, if you’re going to do Google+ (and you may as well, especially if you already have a Gmail account), do it right.
Take a look at Social Bakers, and you’ll see that Google+ is relevant around the globe. No matter where you, or your audience, may be, here are the basic rules of Google+ to get started:
- Make sure your contact information is correct
Obviously, right? However, you’d be surprised by how many businesses have an outdated website, email address, physical address, phone number or name of the proprietor listed incorrectly. Not only is this embarrassing and might potentially send your customers on a wild digital goose chase, but it can skew your search engine optimization (SEO) results. It’s crucial that your online contact information is correct and all aligns in order for Google’s SEO algorithm to do its job, and considering that Google+ is of course owned by Google, you’d better double check that this platform has correct information.
- Make sure the information is listed in an appropriate manner
Depending on your country, it might be appropriate to put (123)123-1234 or 123.123.1234 when listing your phone number. There are common and not so common ways to list information, and getting too creative can throw up a red flag for SEO algorithms. There are many ways to get creative with your online and social media presence, but with Google+ keep it clean and simple.
- Fill out all the information
There’s not much work to be done here, so make it as complete as you can and include SEO-rich key words when appropriate (avoiding keyword stuffing of course). Basically, make sure to follow SEO best practices, like those by Moz, no matter where your digital footprint is. Google+ is yet another avenue for spreading the word about your business, and every word counts.
- Choose your photo wisely
Maybe it’s the logo for your business or a professional photo like the one you (hopefully) use on LinkedIn. However, just make sure that a) you do use a photo b) it’s not copyright protected and c) it’s professional enough that you would print it and put it on your letterhead. There’s a big trend, especially in the startup culture, of embracing “authentic” and “genuine” vibes in the office, but there’s definitely such a thing as too relaxed. If you don’t have an appropriate photo yet, remember that as a small business owner or freelancer, you can write off the expenses for a professional photo (as well as a slew of other expenses according to Entrepreneur).
Many people already use Gmail or another Google product on a regular basis, so you may as well get on the Google+ bandwagon.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. Currently, Larry writes for Inquisitr.com, SocialMediaWeek.org, Tech.co, and SiteProNews.com among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing.