How to Boost Your Visibility with Google 'Search, plus Your World'
Google’s new Search, plus Your World was ostensibly designed to give the search engine a personal touch by including posts from the Google+ social media network in standard search results. However, Search, plus Your World includes a feature called the Plus Box that presents tremendous business opportunities, too.
Located to the right of the standard search results, the Plus Box links to Google+ pages and profiles related to the term(s) you searched. For example, when you search Google for “cars,” the Plus Box displays the Google+ pages for a variety of auto-oriented companies. Users don’t need to be signed in to a Google account to see Plus Box results — and you can raise your business’ odds of appearing in it by incorporating a couple of SEO tricks into your Google+ page.
Ian Lurie of the Conversation Marketing blog and AJ Kohn of the Blind Five Year Old marketing agency tested the Plus Box and posted detailed guidelines about how to boost your chances of appearing in search results.
Here are five major factors:
- Create a Page for your business. In Google+ parlance, Pages are for business while Profiles are for people. Individual Profiles can appear in Plus Box results, but Lurie’s testing showed that Google gives clear preference to Pages. “Pages with membership in 3,000 to 6,000 circles appear in the Plus Box, beating fresh profiles with circle membership as high as 1.5 million,” he writes. (Click the bolded link to get started creating a G+ business page.)
- Use your keywords in specific areas. As is always the case with SEO, keyword placement is vital when promoting your business on your personal G+ Profile. Kohn found that in order to rank well your personal Profile should include your keywords in the Introduction, Employment, Education, and Places fields in your "About" page. All the better if you can include keywords in more than one field, but avoid “keyword stuffing” and unnatural language. As far as business Pages go, the researchers found that keyword placement was most critical in the name of the page, so consider adding natural keywords to your business' title to improve rank -- again, just don't over do it. "Smith & Co." wouldn't rank as well in "Marketing" as "Smith & Co. Marketing Solutions."
- Post frequently. Keywords may be vital, but content is king, as the saying goes. Business Pages and personal Profiles that post frequently have a much better chance of showing up in the Plus Box; in fact, your Page has no chance of appearing if you haven’t posted in the past 72 hours.
- Post well. Engaging content trumps bland filler. Both studies found that profiles with content that garnered lots of +1s stood a much, much higher chance of being highlighted in search results. Somewhat oddly, Lurie discovered that re-shares have no relevance whatsoever in Plus Box results, although Kohn noticed that posts that were shared often appeared more frequently in standard search results that had Search, plus Your World enabled. Of course, personal SPYW links won’t appear in regular search results if the user hasn’t already Circled your business on Google+.
- Have a long reach. Your business is more likely to appear in the Plus Box if it has a large number of followers. (The exact number varies based on the searched-for topic, but in general, you'll need thousands of followers -- at least -- to crack the Plus Box.) That likelihood increases if your followers find themselves in the Circles of a bunch of other people. Businesses that maintain an active Page and frequently post engaging content should have no problem finding followers, but you can increase your numbers by holding promotions that encourage customers to add you on Google+.
Of course, your efforts will bear more fruit in a niche than in a saturated market, but every Google+ business account -- whether a personal Profile or a full-blown business Page -- can profit from a little SEO optimization.
Have you had much success marketing your business on Google+? Share your experiences with us in the Comments field below.