Google Plus, which hasn’t really materialized as a substantial competitor to Facebook in terms of social engagement, can still be an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO), simply because of the preferential weight that the search engine’s ranking algorithm gives to content that is posted on its social media platform. Before diving into the Google Plus pool, however, an understanding of how the social network operates as well as its primary purpose can help to define the level of time and resources that should be dedicated by a company in its SEO efforts.
- The purpose for Google Plus goes far beyond being a social site – The way in which Google has set up the membership for Plus results in a situation where everything someone does with the company’s services, including Gmail and YouTube, is consolidated to a database in order to build an increasingly specific profile of members’ online activity. Videos watched, products mentioned in emails, directions obtained from “Maps” and any other uses of Google-related services are then continually assessed from a central gathering point provided by Plus membership to determine things like hobbies, affinities, and near term actions such as purchases.
- Google Plus is perceived as unacceptably invasive by some – While tracking an individual’s activity on other sites is becoming more common (eBay searches showing up on Facebook newsfeeds, for example) there is still a significant percentage of people that find these events unsettling. Being tracked across the full scope of Google’s services is seen as by many as intrusive, which will keep privacy oriented customers away from the network.
- The demographic profile of active Google Plus users is relatively narrow – Generally speaking, the demographic profile of Google Plus users can be described as single younger males with affinities for cars, tech and gaming. While this demographic may be ideal for companies that produce these types of products, businesses with target markets that are outside of these narrow parameters may have a hard time gaining much traction in terms of growing their audience and customer acquisition.
Across the full scope of social media platforms, Google Plus is perhaps the most polarizing with its penchant for assigning users of its other services as members followed by overt marketing efforts to those same members. Another challenge for businesses is the narrow demographic profile of their users. For these reasons, many businesses may find value in the SEO benefits of membership but may be better served by other social media sites in terms of their marketing initiatives.