Exciting times at Google
— not only have they just released Google+ to the public in open Beta (working model), but they’ve now added Google+ Business Pages.
So how can you, as an internet entrepreneur, take advantage of this new internet resource… and should you? Before you rush to set up a page, it may help to take a look at the pros and cons…
Comparing Facebook Pages with Google+ Business Pages
Google+ is still very much in beta mode. Its Pages feature has only just been launched, so any comparison with Facebook pages will probably be redundant by the time you read this, since new features are being added to Pages on an ongoing basis.
Your biggest reason for setting up a Business Page in Google+ should be not only to take advantage of powerful Google SEO, but to reach targeted customers or clients who hate and avoid Facebook — and this number is growing daily, thanks to Facebook changes such as the inability to prevent Facebook from broadcasting what you are doing online, moment by moment!
Facebook’s relevance is also taking a downslide at the moment, thanks to all the changes it recently instituted. Friends are “disappearing” thanks to involuntary settings changes (and most aren’t even aware you now can’t see them). Irrelevant posts seem to be on the increase. And there’s generally a lot of confusion.
The worst part about Facebook pages? “Out of sight, out of mind”, says V. A., Isobel Henderson. “You really like somebody’s page, but then you get busy, and forget they have it. Seems like you have to manually visit a page, to connect with it again, and that means making a conscious effort. Who has the time? Too busy!”
Early reactions gleaned from the net about Google+ Business Pages:
- “Google+ page is way better, simple and clean than Facebook pages”
- “Stop comparing them: G+ is not Facebook.”
- “I think the positive thing is actually that the Google+ IS SO SIMPLE AND USER FRIENDLY to users and customers. Google gets what maybe only Apple gets also… No stupid irrelevant stuff.”
- “The biggest disadvantage I see to the Facebook Business page is that I don’t use Facebook. So if the WWE wants to reach me socially, they’re going to have to do it through G+ regardless of how uncluttered it is.”
- “If you like the big mess in FB, maybe is because you live that way. I don´t need a bunch of ads in my screen. I like to choose whom I want to follow and from [whom] I want info. FB to me, is a bunch of teens shouting the world they´re there. I really hope that G+ never turns into another Facebook. Maybe FB need to learn a lot from G+.”
- “The addition of Pages will be a big boost in G+ usage IMHO. I know I’ll likely be using G+ a lot more now that I am finally able to set up a Page. For personal use though, all my family and friends are on FB, not G+, so G+ holds little to no value for me in that respect.”
- “I really love how Google allows for non-profits to set up a Page!”
- “…NASA got amazingly cool timing because of the asteroid coming towards earth has gotten lots of coverage and NASA’s profile already is very useful source on that topic. The interaction is amazing in Google+ especially because the You Tube interaction is so relevant often on discussion about recent news and future news.”
The underlying point of these comments seems to be that Facebook is losing control and turning into another MySpace or Yahoo. In fact, seeing “disturbing or controversial Yahoo headline links” appended to peoples’ posts is the reason two business acquaintances of mine have recently “switched” from Facebook to Google+ in the last week alone.
“You can’t switch [Yahoo headlines] off or `hide’ them, the way you used to be able to hide posts from sources you didn’t like,” explained one. Commented the other: “Well, you can switch them off — but Yahoo posts enable themselves again immediately.”
Given the changing currents of social networking, why not set up your Google+ Business Page while it’s still simple to do so? Who knows — maybe getting in on the ground floor will enable you to retain early features you like that are later “grandfathered” (like those animated profile photos on Twitter that a few people still cling to, but the rest of us now can’t create — even supposing we were animators, which would make them highly relevant!)
Which Network Is For You?
One other factor to take into account, when deciding whether or not to invest time in setting up Google+ Pages — one often doesn’t use social networks to directly attract clients or customers. It’s usually more about networking.
Current buzz seems to indicate that there’s a shift in Facebook as the primary network. LinkedIn has gained serious ground… and so has Google+.
Among the items at Inside GPlus, you can see frequently-updated results measuring the comparative popularity of Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. (Be sure to add GPlus to your circle. You’ll find lots of real-time tracking feedback there.)
While everything is in a state of flux, why not set up pages on both Facebook and Google+… then see which one brings you the strongest results?
What You Need to Know about Google+ Business Pages
Before you rush to do that, however, here’s the lowdown on what you can expect…
- Setting up your Google+ Page is currently an easy process, and will take you only a few minutes
- You need to have a Google account. If you don’t already have one, you can create one right now or when you go to create your page
- You can type “+” in front of any company name and instantly get a listing of their Pages
- Google pages are linked with Google search, which provide a one-key shortcut to Google+ Pages within the query box
- It integrates with Google+ Circles, making Page sharing easy
- You can create multiple Google+ Pages, if you have more than one business
- There are “lots” of “improvements” slated in the near future for Google+ Pages, according to Vic Gundotra, senior VP of engineering
- Google+ Pages are ideal for branding, since Branding has its own separate category
As with any new beta network, Google+ still has some glitches, as well as a way to go towards seamless web power and integration. Here are seven of the most reported problems you might encounter or need to prepare for (and circumvent, when possible)…
Current Google+ Drawbacks
- Vanity URLs — Google states flatly that vanity URLs will not be available for Pages. They offer instead “verification badges”, but these are not comparable to vanity URLs, since they operate as “security mechanisms”, not identifiers.
You cannot apply for a verification badge: Google decides whether or not you merit one and arbitrarily awards them at their pleasure.
Verification badges are Google’s way of letting searchers know that “a site is legitimate”. The motivation for creating them is eliminate impersonation — but since Google arbitrarily decides who is legitimate, there is a risk of an impersonator receiving the verification badge.
- Multiple Page Managers — Says Google, “Currently, only one person can own, post as, and edit a page.” You can now create multiple Business and Branding pages, but if you have already set up a page for a company you work for that is owned by someone else and want to transfer ownership (since maintaining it means the company would have access to your gmail and Google account), this would cause a problem: Ownership cannot be transferred.
The current fix? Delete the page and create a new one. But Google is making noises about the ability to transfer ownership “coming soon”.
- Google Places Integration — Right now, there is no integration, but it’s vital to keep your Google Places updated and current if geo-targeting is part of your marketing strategy, since if the information is there, Google will use it (current or not). It’s up to you to make sure Google is not using outdated data: Keeping Places current means local search and Google Maps will be accurately displayed.
Google does plan to integrate the two, in future.
- Google Login — Do be careful, when operating from Google+. Make sure you don’t post miscellaneous content on your actual Google+ page, if you have different logins for you and your company. Already many people have been careless, and admitted to getting egg on their faces by posting to the wrong area under the wrong login.
Google is public. And that can be a drawback, as well as a plus — no pun intended. (N.B.: It will even “ignore” robots.txt file “no follow” instructions.)
- Google Apps — You can’t currently add apps to your Google+ page. But it’s not clairvoyance to predict that will change fairly soon.
- Google+ Confusion — One problem many people seem to have is confusing their Google+ Profile with their Google+ Page. Knowing the differences between your + Profile and your + Page should help you manage each with more confidence…
- Button Error Warnings — This problem only seems to occur on pages with a secure “https:” designation; also on older browsers, so do test your new button-optimized page in an older one too. If your “https:” site generates an error message or warning, first look at the snippet of code Google gave you, when you created your button. Make sure your button code actually uses “https:” too. (Currently, automatically generated code always assumes your site page begins with “http:”)
Correcting the code snippet usually does the trick. If your page is still generating warnings on search, make sure your site contains this script:
You can find these tips (and many others) in the Google+ Help section.
Now let’s take a look at current Google+ advantages — particularly as they apply to Google+ Pages…
Current Google+ Advantages
- Google +1 Button — One of your biggest potential advantages in creating a Google+ Page will lie in Google’s latest feature, the “+1” button.
It can’t really be compared to Facebook’s “Like” button, but since you will most likely do that anyway, here’s a quick overview of the differences between the two features…
The end result of the way Facebook’s “Like” button is set up has resulted in a lack of respect for “Like” results: Everyone knows that a good portion of those “Likes” were not truly value-driven. People pressed the “Like” button to support friends, gain networking favor or because misleading ads triggered them with emotional wording. For example, “Everyone who likes Harry Potter, Like us” — this seen on an ad that led to a site that had nothing to do with Harry Potter — but with Google’s +1 button, there is no artificial weighting. It’s set up so that people press it because they truly like the content.
Granted, you can up the chances of gaining +1 endorsements by educating your website visitors, social network followers and email subscribers about the existence of the Google +1 button, but everyone is soon going to be totally familiar with it.
And only add it to public pages (accessible to everyone).
- Google+ Badges — Not to be confused with the Verification badge! You can easily add a Google+ badge to your website(s) via a simple process you’ll be walked through when you create your page.
You can choose between several styles of badge: Standard badge, Small badge, Small icon, Medium icon, Large icon and No Badge. The Medium Icon is shown below…
If you know you will speedily generate a number of approvals via your +1 icon or badge and have multiple pages or sites, you may wish to choose the standard badge:
- Google+ Direct Connect — This feature is already making a difference to the effectiveness of searching Google+ pages — though, right now, it seems to not always work. All you do to access Direct Connect is type a plus sign before the company name you wish to connect with: For example:
You will then be taken directly to YouTube’s Google+ page, instead of to all the search listings available. (If you only want search listings, don’t type the “+” in front of the name, of course.)
You’ll see the page like this:
You can add that particular page immediately to your circles, as well as easily share it, via the “Share this page” button…
Google admits there are some problems at this time with Direct Connect, but quickly states it hopes to make the option fully functional as soon as possible.
- Google+ for Mobile — Apps are provided for several main devices, including the Android, iPhone and Blackberry. Although not specifically geared for Google+ pages yet, the fact that people can share and access Google+ via mobile automatically increases its value
How to Increase Your Google+ Page Value
In spite of the fact various features are glitchy or not yet active, you can increase your Google+ Page value (especially with Direct Connect by cross-connecting. All this means is:
- Placing the Google+ badge or icon on your site
- Adding your website link to your page
Other ways you can increase your +Page value:
- Actively use Google Hangouts (video chat drop-in)
- Maintain a daily presence via Google+
- Update and add to your Google Circles
- Upload YouTube videos and post the links on your page and websites
- Upload videos to Google+ and share them via your page:
- Move your Google+ Page fans directly into your Circles. (This seems to create automatic engagement!)
- Make sure you have a Circle named “Following”
- Make sure your site contains the “+1” button, as well as your badge or icon. (This will require a separate snippet of code to that of badges/icons.)
- Publicize your page. Share it with your Circles and Hangouts. Share it on social networks and in your blog posts and forum posts. Include it as part of your contact information
- Upload photos, as well as videos. (GPlus offers some interesting statistics about Google+ photo uploads.)
- Educate your readers, subscribers and visitors. Remember the Golden Rule of marketing: S-p-e-l-l things out and include calls to action (telling your readers what to do next)
- Remember that although Google+ Pages may “feel like Facebook”, they do have the huge advantage — and disadvantage — of open search via Google. Follow the tips in this report to ensure Google ranks your page as highly as possible!
Remember: The more active you are via Google+, the higher value Google’s algorithm currently seems to ascribe.
Google Adwords Advantage
If you use AdWords PPC advertising, you’ll love this further way to boost your Google+ page rank and garner more “likes”. Google has enabled AdWords so that people can +1 your Page, right from your ad — so be the +1 button is included within your ad.
Google+ Platform Preview
Another way to boost your value to Google’s search algorithm (and indirectly boost your Page status): Join the Platform Preview for advance news and information about upcoming changes and features.
Becoming a member of Platform Preview puts you on a “preferred” list, enabling you to automatically preview all the latest changes, features and updates to Google+ (including your Google+ page) before the rest of the world has access.
You can customize your contact options, from viewing the group on the web only to receiving daily emails, if you prefer… but note that you must use a Gmail address, if you want any previews to work.
Google+ For Your Blog
Yes, you can create a separate Google+ Page for your blog — even if it’s on Blogger and not hosted on your own separate WordPress site.
Branding Via Your Google+ Page
Opinions are currently split on how effective Google+ Pages are going to be, when it comes to branding your business.
For starters, currently only one person (with one login) can manage a Brand page and it’s attached to one account. Sure, you can give people the login information — but if you’ve set it up with your personal login, you most likely won’t want them to have access to all your Google activities!
Do read the Google Page Terms of Service before setting up your Brand page. It sets out explicitly what you can and cannot do. Here is just one small section…
Another tip: Don’t work with both your personal account and your Brand account within the same browser. Ideally, it’s best to:
- Manage each on separate browsers
- Completely log out of one, before accessing the other
If branding is your primary purpose for creating a Google+ Page, do make sure you select “Product or Brand” as your Page Category:
Finally, do remember to actively use Circles to connect with other Brand pages (so they will +1 your own).
Upcoming Google+ Page Features
Among some of the improvements Google says it is planning, you can look forward to integrating:
(But still no vanity URLs!)
It’s important to remember that Google+ Pages for business, brands and non-profits are still brand new and very much in a Beta state (as is Google+ itself). But getting in on the ground floor will help your Page rank soar while others are still waking up to all Google+’s possibilities.
To your success!