Google+ has been described by some in the online marketing sector as Google’s answer to Facebook; however, Google considers Google+ as a “social layer” which enhances its online properties and which can be used to collect social signals, rather than just a traditional networking website such as Facebook or Twitter.
I recently heard a colleague describing logging into Google+ as an experience similar to arriving at an amazing party and realising that you are on your own, with no one to enjoy the great party with. Even though it is said that Google+ is the most widely extended social network, as anybody who owns a Gmail account automatically has a Google+ profile, the numbers are probably not reflective of active users. On the other hand, it seems like businesses have taken on Google’s social answer enthusiastically in most cases.
So how can Google+ help your business?
Google+, created by Google as their social networking and identity service, has a few clear advantages that must be recognised by international marketers looking to improve not only their social online presence but also their organic positioning on Google’s search results page.
Google+ content appears on Google’s search results for a long period of time, and can achieve high rankings if quality updates are shared, so publishing interesting articles and posts on Google+ increases your chances of landing an attractive position in SERPs. Furthermore, any pages you share on your profile will get crawled faster, and sharing featured links on your Google+ profile will pass page rank authority.
You might have heard already that having a Google+ profile (together with authorship tag) puts your face next to your posts and articles on the Google results page (which, we admit, is kind of cool).
There is also a Rel-Publisher tag which would allow you to have the same effect but with your brand’s logo and information; the data included in your profile, together with picture or logo, location, and even opening hours, will be visible on the right-hand side of the results page and be treated with more prominence on Google Maps search results.
If you happen to have any physical presence, for example shops, bars, coffee shops… then it would be advisable to have a G+ Local Listing for each store, which would then display directions and opening hours. Some brands, such as Starbucks, have found the solution by having a global business page in English while many of the local establishments have their own page, as well.
How to ensure your Google+ page helps with your International SEO
Separate By Country
We always recommend having one Google+ page per country. Users are more likely to engage in a social media platform if there is a local version in their own language. Google+ does not allow for language and geo-targeted posts, so if you have a presence in more than one country with more than one language, and you didn’t set it up any other way, your users would be seeing posts they don’t understand. You could, however, maintain just one page by creating different circles based on country or language and then choosing to share your posts only with some of your circles. Although this could be beneficial if there is a lower number of Google+ users in that country, it poses a potential problem: how could you decide, for example, if your users in Belgium prefer posts in Dutch or French? Or if Spanish ex-pats living in Germany can understand what you really say in your German profile? How could someone who opened their Google+ profile in US but now lives in Mexico take advantage of any offers you post?
When creating your Google+ profile, make sure that your “Story” is SEO-friendly and includes keywords. Remember, though, that stuffing your profile with strings of keywords is never going to be beneficial, and include just the 2-3 keywords that best define your business, target or activities in each territory, and keep in mind the differences between cultures, languages and countries.
The “circles” should be taken advantage of; therefore, at least some generally-related pages should be added in order to increase exposure.
Post Often- and Engage
When it comes to posting, make sure you tell whoever is responsible for content in each target country that Google+ is the easiest way to have new content crawled by the Google bots from the point of view of social media – it is important to post frequently with unique content, or, at the very least, to have Facebook and Twitter posts replicated here as a last resort. Engaging with any followers or users who leave comments is of utmost importance – just as Facebook or Twitter, Google+ is a social media platform and in this case its purpose is to bring you closer to your potential customers. Interacting with them will make you appear approachable and close, and gives you another golden opportunity to gain their trust and respect.
From Webcertain, we would like to encourage you to jump into Google+ with both feet! Who knows, maybe you could organise a hangout to promote your latest product launch in Lithuania, or use your Spanish page as a focus group for the design of your next website.
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