The New York Times recently published a report looking in to the winners of Google+ and surmised that in its current form Google+ does more to benefit Google than it does its actual users. Next to benefit the greatest are businesses with Google+ accounts, with both Starbucks and The Economist as two cited examples within the report.
As it stands, Google+ has not gained a great deal of traction in rivalling other social media platforms. Though this may arguably be because it needs more time to accrue more users and therefore more collective benefits, either way it’s not likely that those at Google HQ are losing any sleep just yet. According to The New York Times this is due simply to the reaps of rewards it gets from it anyway, primarily as an information farm which ultimately results in revenue.
Google+, for them, is a vehicle that brings all of their products together and stores the way it is used and interacted with under each individual’s profile, which gives them an incredible amount of profiling detail. Basically, this means that Google are able to extrapolate a profile of each of its Google+ users that tells them how they use all of the Google products – Search, Gmail, YouTube etc and not just how they use Google+. This information is worth plenty, as for Google their revenue comes from advertisers and advertisers prize information on who and how to target above all else. So the more that Google offer advertisers that, the better their balance sheet.
Not only that, Google can use this information for their own ends – to modify and improve their products accordingly. Understanding how people use Google will help them to make changes that will improve user experience. And this puts them ahead of their competition.
It’s not just Google who benefit though, as businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the SEO benefits that signing up to Google+ provides. Both Starbucks and The Economist have publicly admitted this, with Starbucks showing up as having relatively minimal followers and activity on Google+, yet they remain active for the SEO advantages that it brings. Alex Wheeler, VP of Digitial Marketing for Starbucks said:
“When we think about posting on Google Plus, we think about how does it relate to our search efforts.”
Echoing that, Chandra Magee, Senior Director of Audience for The Economist, says:
“There is potential there to help us get in front of new audiences, but it also helps with our SEO strategy because our posts on Google Plus actually show up in our search engine results.”
Both are quite straightforward in admitting their belief in the SEO benefits, and when you consider the effect of a Google+ listing for a business then it’s easy to see why. When users search that company their key information, map and reviews comes back highlighted on the right-hand side of the search results page. They are also likely to come back higher in general searches. If a user searches for ‘restaurants in London’ then those with a Google+ will be returned at the top of the page in list format, complete with some key contact details, position on map and review rating – this all prior to the organic snippets that now come below.
Google are well aware of this tie-up and benefit to companies. They’re not charging them anything for this extra visibility – what they get from it is more business on board with Google+.