With more than 500 million accounts of which 359 million are said to be active users, it would be a mistake for your business to overlook Google+ when choosing which social networks to use. While there is some debate about how many people are actively using Google+, there is little doubt how valuable this social network is for businesses. You may engage some of your customer if they happen to use Google+ as a social network, but you’ll reach many more people because of the way your social activity feeds into search results on Google.

Social Authority

The first way this happens is through social authority by using the +1 button. When your followers like something you post on Google+, they can click the +1 button to let Google know that your content is appreciated and valuable. This is a strong signal for Google to push your links higher in search results. Additionally, people can click the +1 buttons on your web pages, blog posts, videos and other content to signal their support for your work. These +1’s add up to social authority that can result in better search result rankings.

Google Authorship

Have you ever noticed that some of the results in a search will have the author’s photo next to them? If you’ve never seen this, try searching Google for ‘computer system struck by lightning.’ The authors of a couple of articles that come up with that search have taken advantage of the Google authorship feature with Google+. These articles are more likely to be clicked on by people, because the image of the author makes the link stand out in the results. Additionally, people tend to trust the information in these articles more because they can see the person behind the content. This personal branding can be used to increase the click-through rate for your articles in search results as well.

Linking Tools

There are a range of Google+ badges you can use to connect your web content with your social profile or business page, similar to the static badges you find all over the internet. You know, the basic white g+ with a red background? However, you can also create a custom badge for your profile, page or community. Most businesses think about linking to their business page on Google+, and many consider linking to personal profiles for their team. However, quite a few businesses miss out on the opportunity to add value for their customer by including links to Google+ communities that may interest their customers. For example, an auto parts site may want to include links to Google+ communities for classic car enthusiasts. This could tie into the need for parts and valuable interactions with the community on Google+.

Marketing Capabilities

Another great way to market your business is by hosting regular discussions via Google Hangouts. Think of this like a television or radio show where customers can contact you directly, ask questions and interact with you. Running with the classic car example, the auto parts store could host a Google Hangout for the classic car group. This could involve interviews with owners of classic cars, a Q&A session or any other format you choose. The video and audio from these hangouts can be shared live using Hangouts On Air, published to YouTube and distributed as a podcast. Imagine that your business could create a television show or radio program to help your customers solve their problems, and Google Hangouts can help you make that show. When you’re ready to start broadcasting, make sure you have a fast Internet connection so you can host a quality Hangout.

Shaun Daniels is a social media consultant for an local marketing company

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