What I Learned From My Google+ Experiment
About a month ago, I decided to put Google+ to the test. I’d been hearing tons of mixed messages about the platform, ranging from “Google+ is a ghost town!” to “Google+ is the best thing that ever happened to online marketing!”
I signed up for Google+ with a healthy dose of skepticism. Well, I didn’t really sign up. Google automatically signs up its Gmail members for Google+, so I already had a profile. I just didn’t have a pretty-looking page.
I figured I’d spruce my profile up with a custom header, then post something to Google+ once a day. After thirty days, I hoped to have a sense of whether it was worth the time I’d invested.
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
The first (and perhaps the biggest) lesson I learned: Don’t start a brand-new social media platform when you’re eight months pregnant. Especially if you already have a hard time updating your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
I’ll admit: I got bored of making daily updates on Google+. In my own defense, it’s easy to get bored when you do everything by the book – add people to your circles, post content, engage with other people’s posts – and still get no response.
Unless you belong to a niche group that’s already active on Google+, the platform will seem like a ghost town. And not to get mired in semantics, but getting the occasional +1 is just not as affirming as having someone “Like” your content.
The feed on my homepage isn’t particularly engaging, either. I have maybe half a dozen friends who post regularly on Google+, and their content is often interrupted by what Google+ deems “Hot and Recommended.” This depersonalizes the whole experience. Do I really need to see a picture of a beautiful sunset? If it’s coming from my mother-in-law, maybe. If it’s coming from a stranger, no.
The Plus of Google+
There is one major plus of Google+: posting content on the platform, especially links back to your own site, can improve your search engine optimization.
Measuring the success of your Google+ SEO efforts, however, can be difficult if not impossible. Looking at my own metrics, I could trace a handful of visitors who came directly from my Google+ content. But that content is also working behind the scenes to improve my site’s visibility. Because of the way Google indexes Google+ content, those Google+ posts that are generating zero discussion could ultimately cause my blog to rank slightly higher on the page, or show up for a search phrase that it previous didn’t rank for at all.
For business owners with a storefront, that SEO is even more crucial. Google Places has merged with Google+ Local, an online listing where consumers can find contact details, get directions and post reviews. Since Google+ Local pages dominate the right-hand side of Google’s search results, it’s especially important for business owners to confirm their content is correct and monitor reviews.
Should they work Google+ into a larger marketing strategy? It depends. Most businesses just don’t have the internal resources to manage another social media marketing platform, and Google+ probably won’t be their best option for customer engagement. But if that business already has an existing SEO strategy, it might be valuable to work Google+ into the mix.
Where I’m Going From Here
I’m not giving up on Google+, and I expect its opportunities for small business owners will continue to evolve and grow. But I don’t plan on maintaining an active posting schedule, either. I’m going to continue posting the occasional blog article and reevaluate in a year or so.
What do you think about Google+? Let me know in the comments section below.
You can read a similar Google+ analysis geared toward larger businesses in a post I wrote for my agency’s blog: What’s the Plus of Google+?
8 Responses to What I Learned From My Google+ Experiment
- Brain Sex: Five Things You Must Know About Gender and Marketing
- How to Create a Blog Schedule, with Free Templates
- Seven Ways Your Website Makes Baby Jesus Cry
- Copywriting From the Heart: Free Workbook
- The Small Business Blogging Blueprint: Free 55-page eBook
- How to Make a Social Media Marketing Plan