Compared to other platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Google+ often is left to fall by the wayside when it comes to creating your online marketing strategies. This is often because Google+ simply does not have as many users as the big social platforms out there.
However, while Google does not command as large a slice of the social media world with its network, it does contain a lot more elements that provide business measurable value, especially when it comes to increasing a website's organic traffic.
Here are some ways you can use Google+ for your business' SEO purposes.
Ability #1: Personalized Search
One of the most unique ways that Google+ helps businesses with their organic rankings is through personalized search. Put simply, personalized search takes place when a user is logged into their Google account and as a result they see different results compared to what people would see when they are not signed in. This is because Google logs a user's preferences when they sign into a Google account and tries to modify search results based on those preferences.
A study done by Eric Enge in 2013 found that certain webpage results can be lifted higher for individuals that follow a user or business on Google+. This is because Google recognizes a user's preference for that business or author and wants to display those entities higher when a query is typed into Google that already was answered or discussed by that business or individual.
Ability #2: Google+ Local
Google+ local is Google's social integration of businesses into its social media platform. It can be very beneficial to set up and invest in a Google+ local profile page in order to get added exposure on a SERP. When a user types in the name of the business or the services that the company offers, it can trigger a knowledge graph that pulls data from the Google+ local page and adds it to the search results.
Product/Service Search Results
When someone types in the name of a service that is viewed to be geographically important to the user, Google will implement knowledge graph listings below search advertisements in the results page. If you hover over a particular business, it will trigger an additional knowledge graph that overlays in the right rail of the search results page.
Brand Search Results
When a user types in the specific name of a company it can also trigger another knowledge graph. The information that is displayed in a brand knowledge graph is more detailed and extravagant than a service/product knowledge graph.
With brand knowledge graphs, the user will be able to see a Google+ profile picture of the company, or, if Google already has a picture of your picture in its database, it will show a map of where the business is, reviews from users, and business details like address and a phone number. All of this is all pulled from information on the Google+ business page.
Ability #3: Indexing
Unlike other networks like Facebook and Twitter, Google actively has its search bots crawl through each post in Google+. This allows for content that has been posted on here to be discovered quickly. In the same study by Eric Enge, he mentions how he has personally witnessed his content being indexed faster by Google when he posts it into Google+.
Personally, I've noticed mixed results. Sometimes Google will index my content 1-2 days more quickly if I post it in Google+ right after launching the article on my client's websites, but other times it doesn't work.
Ability #4: Rank Your Social Media Posts
Not only is each post on Google+ crawled but it is also indexed and ranked into the search results page. This helps extend the value of your posts and makes it more important to get right. Sure, Google has ranked other social networking pages in the past but these are mainly just community and profile pages, not actual posts.
There is no known character limit on Google+, so you can easily repurpose current website content, post it on your Google+ profile page under a related keyword, and have the ability to rank twice on the same topic.
Ability #5: Get Your Web Content Viral
Google+ may not be the biggest social media platform, but this network has some of the best user engagement on the web. This is especially true for webmasters and content writers that use Google+ communities to enhance their work and network with professionals in similar fields.
Connecting with certain people and using Google's advanced capabilities to share posts to certain audiences could be your best shot at using social media to market content to contributors, bloggers, and webmasters who then pick up and share the content on their websites.
Ability #6: Google+ Hangouts
In the web 2.0 world, online videos have become very valuable to SEO. With Google+ Hangouts, recording and uploading an online video has never been easier. Google+ Hangouts is a live video streaming and recording service from Google where you and several other Google+ users can get together to talk about topics. Best of all, it's a completely free tool! Although the actual videos do not show up in the search results, you can still rank the actual post containing the video and automatically transfer your Hangout video to YouTube to get it ranked that way.
Ability #7: Keeping Up with Best Practices
The world of SEO is constantly changing and it's important to keep up-to-date on the latest news, tools, and trends. Although Google+ may not have as many users as other social networks, it does have one of the most active communities on the web for SEO professionals.
From social communities like Technical SEO that has SEO pros and webmasters actively helping each other through optimization issues, to Google's own John Mueller, who is in charge of webmaster relations at Google, doing regular Google+ Hangouts to answer webmaster questions is one of the best ways to keep track of SEO best practices.
Ability #8: Rich snippet
One of the most recognizable ways that Google+ is impacting search results is through Authorship and Publisher rich snippet markup. By entering in a simple code to your website and linking to a website on your Google+ page, webmasters and writers have the ability to integrate Google+ information like author name, Google+ follower count, and profile picture into the search engine results page.
Ability #9: Author Rank
Going hand in hand with rich snippets is the idea of "Author Rank". Last year Matt Cutts, head of Google's search spam team, spoke of an intention for Google to start recognizing authorities on certain topics. In a recent video Matt reiterated that intent and even added that Google will begin to rank pages based on that authority. Although it is unlikely that Google+ will be the only way that Google determines authority based on a user's popularity within the social network, it is very likely Google+ will be tied into the algorithm somehow based on its current features and capabilities.
With Google+, the worlds of social media and search engine optimization have never been more integrated. Since Google launched its platform in 2011, the network's integration into search engine results has far surpassed any other social media platform. As Google continues to find ways to integrate its technologies together, it is important to consider this network when formulating your online marketing strategies.