This post was originally published on rso-consulting.com
It seems like every other week there is a new article discussing the relevancy of Google+ as a social media marketing tool.
That, and the other popular headline, “SEO is Dead.” (This one has been circulating for several years and, folks, SEO is alive and well.)
As for the question, “Is Google+ still relevant?” we want to provide answers based on our own experiences with clients, rather than cast a general speculation.
Search Engine Influence
One thing we know for certain is, Google’s search engine results pages continue to be influenced by Google+ posts.
In fact, Google is now placing some posts from Google+ in the “In the News” section of search results pages.
This means if you perform a search on Google while you are logged in to your Google account, then the results could very well show posts from brands you follow on Google+.
For example, one of our retail clients regularly publishes content to Google+. Following a specific social media marketing strategy, this client’s Google+ posts now appear in search engine results the same way an optimized website page might.
Here’s another example of how Google+ can influence search engine results. Let’s say you have a Google account, and you follow Crate and Barrel on Google+. When you are logged in to Google and do a search for “picnic baskets,” there is a possibility that Crate and Barrel’s Google+ posts about picnic baskets will show up in the organic search results.
The fact that Google+ content has influence over search engine results also points to another relevancy indicator: website traffic.
For brands that publish content on Google+, there is a lot of opportunity to drive social media traffic to websites.
This is accomplished in two distinct ways. One, because Google+ content shows up in search engine results, websites may be able to increase organic traffic. Two, Google+ refers traffic to websites when URLs are included in posts.
Using Google’s social networking platform not only positions content in search results to increase traffic, but it can also drive traffic through the platform itself.
While Google+ is an excellent tool to increase traffic to websites, the social media platform generates modest engagement compared to other networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
True, Google+ has 2.5 billion users, but it has been suggested that about 250 million have actually used their accounts. This is what happens when every Google account holder is given a Google+ page, whether they ask for it or not.
Of course, engagement levels are different for every brand. Our aforementioned retail client does well on Google+, generating an impressive number of likes, comments and shares.
Overall, it is our experience that Google+ remains a relevant social media marketing tool for brands. While engagement may vary by account, the increased exposure in search results pages and the opportunity to increase website traffic is not to be ignored.