Yes, You Will Need a Google Plus Page For Your Business. No, You Don’t Need To Panic.

The cottage industry that has already sprung up in my RSS feeds about people who claim to have the awesomesauce secret for Google Plus profiles for business, or who claim to be Google Plus for business gurus, or are offering a free e-book on how to optimize your company’s Google Plus page is absolutely blowing my mind. THE SERVICE HAS ONLY BEEN LIVE FOR 48 HOURS AT THIS POINT, HOW THE HELL CAN ANYONE BE A “GURU” IN IT? I’ve also seen a number of headlines explaining why Google Plus is going to murder Facebook, and just as many about how Google Plus is D.O.A.

Google Plus is going to be an essential part of any business’ strategy moving forward. I realize that a lot of you are rolling your eyes at this point thinking about another social media service that you’ll have to research, plan and execute a strategy for. Isn’t this just another Facebook? Everyone just uses Facebook, no one uses Google Plus, right? That might be true- for now- but the Google product everyone uses that you SHOULD be concerned about is Google search. Plus is going to tie in intimately with search and as such, if you are ignoring it now, you’re going to be leaving money on the table somewhere down the line.

As I’ve written on this blog before, Bing has already basically stated that Facebook Likes are more important ranking/authority signals to their algorithm than links are. With Google first opening Plus up to everyone last month, and now to Businesses and Brands this month, I can’t help but think they are going in a similar direction- showing the pictures of those that have +1’ed certain pages in the search results leads to a measurable improvement in both click-through rate on the listing and conversion rate of the site they are clicking through to. This is another attempt by the big G to marry search and social and I think this one will succeed where Facebook search has- so far- failed miserably.

Links were originally factored so heavily into Google’s algorithm because they were supposed to be human-agnostic- that is, a wholly democratic and “uninfluenceable by people” algorithm factor. Until Google, pages were essentially assigned authority purely through evaluation of on site factors- but that’s easy to game. So Google, with their ultimate goal being to serve the User, settled on links as a “vote of confidence” in another site. Their logic is that if I link to you, I must think you’re an authority on the topic, and if more people link to you than your competition, that’s a pretty strong signal to the site that you are more authoritative. The problem with this system is that it’s relatively easy to game links.

Enter the link builder. This insidious SEO worker’s only job is to try to game Google’s algorithm by securing links back to a website at any cost. It doesn’t matter if you do bulk directory submissions or straight up buy sidebar links from a company like TLA or TLB- the goal of the link builder is to get back links, and serving the User valuable content to do so isn’t a link builder’s focus. So what has this led to? It’s led to India-hosted directory sites and networks of sites where you can get 10,000 back links overnight for very little money. They don’t usually adevertise the crappiness of these links, which frequently sit several clicks deep off of a marginally popular home page. See how easy it is to game links? Ask some of those “pro link builders” how many sites they’ve worked on that have been kicked out of the index. My squeaky-clean white hat SEO has worked for over 100 campaigns and I’ve never had anyone booted out of the index…food for thought.

Now, enter social media. Yes, it can be gamed as well. I can go to Mechanical Turk right now and buy 1,000 +1’s for my clients’ pages for very little money, the problem is, there’s no value to that because it’s a lot harder to game a social media site than it is to set up a link directory and start charging. Google forces people to use real names on the + profile pages and not pseudonyms because they want a +1 to mean something- a +1 means I, personally, like the resource, not that someone contacted me for $50 a month to host a sidebar link back to their site.

For now, it’s enough to claim your Google plus page, and watch this space for more recommendations on what to do with it. When you do create your profile, bear in mind that Business pages on Google Plus can only have one administrator for now, so don’t leave it up to the social media intern to create your businesses’ page. That task should fall to the Social Media Manager, failing that, whoever runs the company Facebook or Twitter page.

Social is the future of SEO; people. I would not be surprised at all if within a year, +1’s are as important or more important to Google’s algo than links are, and in 5 years social signals may have supplanted link signals entirely.

What do you think?

 

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