Note: Although the future of Google+ is unclear, in the short run, there’s still reason to optimize your showing. Adventure Park Insider will keep you up to date on any changes as they become clear.
Mistakes to Avoid in the Final Mile
So, you’ve signed up for your Google+ business page. Now what?
It turns out that few zip line and aerial tours fully complete their Google+ profiles, leaving some of their SEO potential unfulfilled (see “How to Talk to Google”).
A sampling of 44 top zip lines and adventure parks on TripAdvisor, showed that just over half had G+ business pages. More alarming, of those that did have Google+ pages, 17 percent were not fully completed! Most often, these profiles were missing their hours of operation, which is a very helpful piece of information for people browsing online.
Now, add to that the number of profiles that don’t showcase their customer review rating from Google+, and we really have a problem. (Business pages with 4 to 5 customer reviews can flaunt their average rating.)
All in all, a whopping 60 percent of these businesses with G+ profiles are not wholly leveraging this platform.
Google+ is Not Facebook
The top reason people don’t go the extra mile to attract reviews or fill out their Google+ profiles: they get discouraged. Google+ generates less engagement and therefore, it can be easy to dismiss this effort entirely.
“On Facebook, we can do random posts and 160 people will ‘like’ it,” notes Scott Chreist, president and CEO of Adventura Aerial Adventure Park. “But with G+, it’s like tossing stuff out into a total void, it doesn’t feel like I’m engaging as much with our followers.”
Even Evan Tipton, a Google guru and huge proponent of Google+, admits that you’re usually talking to Google’s algorithms more than people.
This reality often gets people thinking, ‘Why should I do more if it’s like talking to a wall?’
But that’s the wrong approach, and here’s why:
It is important to invest time in G+ to improve your SEO. Although not many people are likely to visit your Google+ profile, being active does help Google know that you’re a reputable source. In turn, you could see your website move up in the search rankings.
It may be more fun to read Facebook responses to your silly picture of the week, but from a marketing perspective, SEO is more critical.
On G+, exchange personality for pragmatism. Try to optimize your posts by using important keywords like “zip line” or “adventure park” that simultaneously boost your SEO rankings.
Also, encourage guests to submit reviews on G+. These reviews are the first ones that people see when your website shows up on Google. Before they see your TripAdvisor rating, before they know how many Facebook fans you have, web visitors will see who has left reviews on G+ just by typing in your company’s name.
G+ Success Story
With a little time and attention, you can turn G+ into a meaningful marketing tool. In fact, your customers might already like it more than you think.
Last year, Adventura’s Chreist ran a marketing experiment. He wanted to see if he could boost his online presence by incentivizing people to leave reviews. For each review, he’d buy the person their favorite cup of coffee (Adventura is just outside of Seattle, after all).
Participants could choose to leave a review on Facebook, Yelp, or Google+. While Facebook got 6 reviews and Yelp got 2, approximately 60 people left high marks on Google+.
Although Facebook is still Adventura’s most active platform in terms of engagement, Chreist has noted some SEO gains from all the reviews on G+.
“We’ve seen rising traffic to our website from Google+,” he says. “G+ used to be at the bottom of the list, but now it drives the second-most traffic out of our social media platforms.”
Marketing is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. So, after you’ve set up your G+ business page, don’t quit! Keep fueling the fire by seeking out customer reviews, posting company pictures, and posting keyword-optimized updates. Talking on Google+ means that Google is listening. What do you want it to hear?
Yeah, why not throw some time and resources into a dying platform. Makes sense to me!
Here’s my bet: Google+ as a *social network* may be defunct, but for businesses, it’ll still be key. There’s no way that Google is going to let all that valuable data (addresses, hours of operation, reviews) go to waste. It’s become so ingrained in its search, maps, etc. that I can’t foresee any universe where all of that would suddenly be wiped clean.
In all of the articles I’ve read, none of them mention Google+ for Business or Google Places being impacted by the Google+ updates–simply the social aspects of Google+ like the stream and photos.
Let’s be clear that having a Google+ Business profile does not mean you have to be active on Google+, or “dying platform” as you call it. It simply means that you’ve registered your storefront with Google and directed some energy toward getting (at least 5) reviews. This makes it easier for your customers to search for you, which could translate to real SEO gains.
Worth it? I think so.