Wind sweeps over the parched and barren soil. A tumbleweed cuts a path through the arid valley. Buzzards hover around a scorched logo that reads “g+”.
We all know it. Google Plus is a ghost town, a wasteland of uncommented posts and orphaned hyperlinks. It wouldn’t even exist except that Google is basically “the internet” and most people’s email client as well. Have a Google account? Then you’re automatically signed up for Google Plus whether you know it or not. That’s why Google can claim almost 360 million users.
Why Google Plus Matters
But if no one is actually “on” Google Plus, why should I care about it?
Google still owns Internet search. They want their social network to flourish. So they’ve baked Google Plus into almost every other Google product. Want to track your searches and get more personalized results? You’ve got to use Google Plus. Want to use Google Analytics? You need a Google account first and what comes with a free Google account? You guessed it. Google Plus.
For better or worse, we’re stuck with Google Plus and you can’t afford to ignore it. Here are four reasons why Google Plus still matters:
1) Huge User Reach
Everyone who uses Gmail has a Google Plus account. Anyone with an Android phone or tablet has a Google account. They have 360 million users (I question their word “active” though as I know very few that actually use it). That being said, Google Plus is hard to avoid. Even if you ignore the site itself, you will get constantly barraged by notifications letting you know of other friends or suggested posts on Google Plus.
They do a great job of pulling you back in. So by posting to Google Plus, you can take advantage of this storm of notifications to get your message out to the massive Google audience.
Using your Google Plus profile, Google knows a lot about you. They see what kinds of links and pictures you post. They track what kinds of posts you comment on. They track what you search for on Google.
Knowing this much about so many users allows Google to make their search even more powerful. If people with similar interests search for something on Google, they can provide much more personalized and targeted results based on that data.
Using Google Plus to share links to your blog posts for instance, will make it more likely that people looking for exactly your content can find it easily.
3) SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Google created Plus to:
- Compete with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
- Improve their search results.
All that data they are collecting about their users is being analyzed by Google. Their search is then optimized to cater to search trends based on this data.
“Posting to Google Plus has a stronger effect on how likely people will find your page than posting to either Twitter or Facebook.”
4) Search Results Placement
Want your content to show up higher on the list of Google search results? You need to use Google Plus to post links to that content. Let’s say you created a blog post about “Yorkshire Terriers who wear dog clothes made of tinfoil.” First of all, that’s an amazingly bizarre niche. Second, if someone comes to Google and searches for “tinfoil dog clothing”, your post will most likely be found but it might be on the 3rd or 4th page of search results.
Putting a link to that blog post on your Google Plus page immediately makes it more likely that post could show up on the 1st page of results. It isn’t guaranteed but Google’s search algorithm gives preference to Google Plus content above other social networks.
“Your content is also more likely to get indexed (found by Google and put into their available search results) quicker if you are posting a link to that content on Google Plus.”
I say “unfortunately” because Google Plus is a hassle. Almost none of my friends are on there. The management tools are terrible. There is tons of “suggested posts” spamming my profile so it’s hard to even find other friend’s content when you are actually on there. I kind of wish it would just go away.
Regardless, it’s here and it’s an absolute must to use if you want to maximize your web traffic and search ranking. So I hold my nose, fight their poor social media tools, and post anyway.