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Published on November 18, 2011
Google Plus, the social networking offering from Google, has been up and running for a few months now and recently, it has launched its own business pages. This is a concept that has already had some success on Facebook, with more than700,000 businesses said to have set up their own page with the networking giant. So, it makes sense that Google+ would launch its own version - but are Google’s business pages any good?
It’s still early days for these business pages – and for Google+ itself - but they do show some potential that companies are sure to want to make use of. For instance, the pages are due to be ranked in search results, which is sure to be appreciated by businesses looking to boost their Google rankings. Google has also developed a new feature, which is called Direct Connect.
The idea behind this is that it allows web users to connect directly to companies’ Google business pages through search. You do this through the Google site – type ‘+’ followed by the business name (such as +Google). This then takes you to the relevant Google+ page. This feature is still being rolled out and so it’s not yet entirely operational, but you can read more about it here.
All of this is very positive and it suggests that these new Google business pages have the potential to be very good, especially as Google+ continues to grow and more users start to adopt it. However, there has been some concern that they’re not quite up to standard yet.
In a way, this mirrors some concerns that were raised when the network itself first launched – it was thought by some that it wasn’t quite ready, and there was some controversy over issues such as whether it was okay to use internet pseudonyms rather than real names on the site, as well as the fact you need to sign up using a Gmail address (adding to our increasing number of email addresses).
One of the issues with the new Google+ business pages is that only one person can currently administer the page. This means that if you have two people in your company who typically manage social media, they’ll probably have to set up a specific company Google+ account and manage the business page through that, rather than doing it through their own accounts. Some companies may appreciate this approach, but when you consider that you are able to have multiple administrators on Facebook’s equivalent pages, it does suggest that not everyone will be entirely happy with this.
Also, one of the selling points of Facebook’s business pages is that they can be used to run competitions and promotions. This can be a good way of drawing more people to the page and encouraging interaction between brands and users. Currently, under Google+ policies, this isn’t possible on the Google business pages, which is likely to be seen as a negative point by many. Of course, this doesn’t stop the possibility of a policy change in the future (nor does it stop businesses linking to competitions elsewhere from their Google+ page), but for now it is something to consider.
Another – potentially more significant – issue faced by Google+ business pages (and the site as a whole) is that it simply doesn’t get as much traffic as other networking sites such as Facebook. For instance, Facebook reaches over 60% of US web users. By contrast, Google+ currently reaches less than 1%. It seems safe to say that Google+ will grow over time, but currently, for online marketers and website designers, if you are going to have a business page it seems as though Facebook or LinkedIn would be the safer bet.
In all fairness to the Google Plus business pages, they are still new and so it stands to reason that functionality will be added over time and they’ll continue to grow in capability and capacity. The idea of Direct Connect is also an interesting one and raises more search opportunities for businesses – and including the pages in search results is a good move.
Therefore, we can probably put many of the current issues down to teething trouble and on-going development. However, until Google+ starts to become more popular and reaches more users (particularly active users who use the site every day as so many do with Facebook), it seems that no matter how good the business pages are, they’ll still struggle to make much of an impact. That isn’t to say companies shouldn’t bother with them – they have many good points and are more than likely to become more influential over time – but perhaps don’t abandon your other social media platforms just yet.
All that said, and whilst Google+ for Business is still a work in progress, it is still worthwhile getting your business in there early. As an early-adopter of Google+ for Business, you never know how Google might reward you in the natural search results later down the line – perhaps it will be similar to how they use your domain name registration date as a ranking signal. It could be that the longer your business is in Google+ for Business, the better the search placements you get.
Malcolm - AmpheonCommented on December 12, 2011
You're quite right Allen, and Google is missing a trick here. I think it's very much small steps for Google+ for Business at the moment. First, just to get some pages on there, but I'm sure with time - and feedback - they'll refine and improve as Google does. There again, it could just be another Google project that in a couple of years will simply be culled like Google Buzz, Wave, Knol and many other products.
However, there's too much potential user data and investment into Google+. I think this is one product they will make work, and in turn that will affect our search engine rankings, so it's best to become an early adopter and reserve your page, use it to build up a history and then see how it develops.
Allen MacCannellCommented on December 9, 2011
What's your opinion on the inability of the G+ corporate page to make +1s or follow anyone or invite anyone? The logic stops spam but it also forces people to go around the web as their individual selves, making it so, when companies assess their few followers, they have to be bright enough to check for the company pages of these individuals so they'll have a better idea about what motivated the follow.
Very few companies being followed by individuals, will turn around and find the corporate pages of those followers and follow those. That's because the process is too difficult.
If company pages could follow company pages, there might be more logic to the whole system.
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