By Brad Caldwell – Owner of Roof, Rinse & Run – May 24, 2014
Vic Gundotra is no longer over Google Plus, after watching and growing it for years. What does that mean? What is the future of Google Plus? Some think it means that G+ is on the decline, whilst Google and others say that Google Plus is going to keep an even keel. Either way, it definitely hasn’t gone “mainstream” yet, as least not like other media. As the owner of a roofing business, I may have a different perspective on Google Plus than others.
What Is the Future of Google Plus – Will Society Always Reject It?
Whilst some people apparently don’t like having their Google Plus profile attached to other things (email, apps, etc.), I for one appreciate it. Less entering in of passwords is a plus (pun intended) for me, as well as the inter-operability of the apps with each other and with my profile. I appreciate that my phone keyboard can predict words based on my text messages, emails, etc. I also appreciate the connectedness and the professionalism of having Google central to a number of items. For one company to go before and learn how to avoid all the myriad of mistakes and snafus that come with new technology is ground that needn’t be crossed again.
Perhaps there are some steps that Google Plus could take to make people feel more at ease in allowing its access into their lives. I think, though, that Google Plus needs to address a few other things, in order to make the platform not only appear less-intrusive, but also easier to get started with.
What Is the Future of Google Plus If It Addresses Barriers to Entry?
For individual users, Google Plus is not that hard to understand; nevertheless, it could do a better job in helping beginners to navigate their way.
For a business to understand how to start using Google Plus, however, there are a lot of unnecessary barriers to entry. The business owner comes into it not having a clue what a Places Page is, what a Maps Listing is, a Local Business Listing is, the Google+ Local Tab (on their profile) is, nor even what a Profile is, nor, much less, what a (Business) Page is. Plus, add on top of that, there are old style (Business) Pages, and new style (Business) Pages. Add again the difficulty and long process of trying to make any changes to the old style Business Page, and its unconnectedness with their Profile (compared to the new style Business Page, which has a hard link to a person’s Profile), and you have a huge mess of confusion.
When people hit confusion, they back out. Businesses, and individuals, need a clear, easy-to-understand, non-Google-help-section-looking primer to plainly explain how to overcome these entry barriers and get going, as well as be shown the benefits of getting in.
What Is the Future of Google Plus If People Can See Its Specialized, Niche Value?
I remember speaking with a roofing manufacturer representative after a large, regional education event they had organized. I showed him a Google Plus post I had made about the event, some 5 minutes after it had ended. Within hours, the post had lots of in-depth comment interaction from roofers around the country. He looked pretty amazed. If everybody knew what they could do with Google Plus, I think it would be more popular than Facebook! The problem is, nobody has any idea because of entry barriers and simply the lack of being told or shown. I wonder if Google themselves don’t realize the potential for Google Plus.
The average person does not realize the expert, specialized advice that can be learned in any field of topic, the interactivity and dialogue that can take place, etc.
For instance, if you are going into the pressure-washing business, you might think pressure-washing an asphalt shingle roof (to clean it) would be a good idea. If you searched really hard online, and asked a number of “experts” around you, they would probably all tell you, “yes.” But if you go to Google Plus, and enter a Pressure-Washing Community, all those foggy “expert” notions are ridiculed and exposed for what they are – pressure-washing a roof will dislodge the granules and adversely affect the life of the roof. In other words, there’s a sense of real, expert advice that is so often lacking in much internet writing. When you gather a crowd of the same trade, the bad-apple ideas are going to fall out really quickly. On the internet, everyone is an expert on everything, and posts as much. Google Plus can act as a sort of touchstone of reality.
What Is the Future of Google Plus For Businesses?
Google Plus – Currently Only a Place for Business Learning, Not Marketing
Most businesses haven’t figured out yet that, as of now, Google Plus is not a place to promote your business to customers (simply because there practically are no active users on Google Plus who want to figure out how to find a company on that platform) – it’s a place to gain expertise on your trade and have real fellow-trademen/tradeswomen whom you can ask questions of without the traditional barriers of competition.
For example, if you’re a plumber, and you have a plumbing marketing question, you sure wouldn’t go to your local competitor to ask it; however, you can go to Google+ and ask a hundred plumbers who will probably give you a straight answer because they have nothing to lose, as they are not local competitors.
Google Plus is also a great place to get interaction for any ideas a business may have, and promulgate them to others in their trade.
Google Plus could become a place for homeowners to vet a potential company before hiring them, to see what kind of credentials and expertise they do or don’t have, if enough people ever began using Google Plus and feeling comfortable with it.
Communities Make or Break a Business’ Google Plus Presence
Businesses have to find related communities for Google Plus to work for them. It’s the rule rather than the exception that most businesses haven’t got a clue about what they’re doing on Google Plus. They post an incredible number of posts publicly, and get zero (or next-to-zero) response. The problem is not that no one is interested – the problem is that they’re off in the middle of nowhere, speaking eloquently, but no one can hear them. If they would find a relevant community for their post, and post it there, they might be shocked at the interaction they find!
Google Plus Has Signal Importance for SEO
Google Plus has been called by many, “SEO Gold.” In other words, it’s a relatively unknown area to boost traffic to a company’s website, as well as to increase their ranking for particular search queries. A company that has a “blog” (writes articles) may post links to each article in relevant communities in Google Plus, and see immediate and meaningful interest. This interest is picked up by Google and helps their rankings for the main search query for their post.
But there’s more. Google Plus is the mechanism for the “rel=author” markup which allows Google (the search engine) to establish a verifiable author for the company’s website. In other words, Google Plus not only connects to your Gmail and other apps, it connects to your business’ website, and tells Google who the “author” for that “blog” is (that’s how you’re able to see a person’s Google Plus Profile picture beside some organic search results!). Additionally, Google has begun playing around with “Author Rank,” which means that they have a way to measure a business owner’s interaction on Google Plus in terms of quantity, quality, trust, grammar, professionalism, etc. This author rank could be used in the future (or, may already be used) to influence Google (the search engine) organic ranking results for search queries. Whilst the “Author Rank” would be connected with what a company owner’s profile posted on Google Plus, another concept, “Publisher Rank,” would be connected with what a company’s (business) page posted on Google Plus.
If you’re a little confused – everyone that signs up with Google Plus starts with a Profile. Most people stop there. Everything they post on Google Plus is posted as their Profile. However, a business owner can, after creating a Profile, enter that profile and “Create a Page” (i.e., a Business Page). In fact, they could create numerous (Business) Pages. Each (Business) Page can make posts on Google Plus as well. Here’s an example of each of mine:
Company Owner, Brad Caldwell, Profile: plus.google.com/+BradCaldwellAuburn
Company, Roof Rinse & Run, (Business) Page: plus.google.com/+RoofRinseRunRRR
One last word here. There’s another step in order for a company’s Google Plus (Business) Page to become their de facto Local Listing (/Map Listing?) that appears in the “local results” area when someone types, say, “plumber in Auburn AL” as the query. This may be the most confusing part of all, so try reaching Google directly about it! In short, any old listings (“Places for Business”) must be converted over to become your Google Plus (Business) Page (and Google was in the process of automatically changing them over when I changed mine over; albeit I called them up to have mine changed over); you’ll have to check for yourself what to do now.
Google Plus Tends to Elevate Business Discussion
Another good aspect about Google Plus (and in direct contrast to, say, contractor forums) is that it requires professionalism (at least as far as businesses use it [it still is a place I’d avoid for personal use, as non-business people often are as low-down, if not lower, than on forums!]). Petty squabbling, coarse language, insults, and a generally low-level interaction are forbidden by nothing less than the company’s own image. Everything that a company posts will be a public reflection on them, which tends (quite well) to elevate discussion to a much better (and even, more logical) plane (to say nothing of decency, decorum, or order)!
What is the future of Google Plus? While some see Google Plus phasing out (you could navigate to this article for a case in point), if important changes are made, and circumstances are favorable, I could still see G+ supplanting even the social “giants.”