This article has been updated for 2017
Google+ has never really taken off as a social media platform, so why should small businesses bother with it? Here’s everything you need to know.
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What is Google+?
Google+ is the search company’s foray into social networking. The platform started out much like Facebook or Twitter, but has changed in recent years to focus more on communities and ‘collections’.
While many people have declared Google+ a failed experiment - and it certainly has been through a lot of changes over the years - there’s still value to be had from it for small businesses.
Why should small businesses use Google+?
With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat, it feels like there are a million and one different social networks small businesses need to keep up to date with these days. So why keep Google+ in the mix if it’s a failure of a social network?
Well, while you might not keep your customers updated through Google+ the way you do with other social networks, there are still some benefits to having a Google+ page.
Rank better in search engines
Some businesses have found that content they post on their Google+ page starts ranking in Google’s search engine faster than content posted elsewhere.
On top of that, some more competitive keywords have been easier to rank for in Google+ than with content posted on a blog or website.
Of course, once you’ve directed people to your Google+ page you need to make sure they can find what you want them to, whether it’s your website, your physical address, or something else, so it’s important your Google+ page has that information.
Reach niche communities
While many personal users have long since given up on Google+, for certain groups of people, it’s become a place to thrive.
Many photographers are actively engaged with Google+ - the Landscape Photography Community has over a million active members. Given that Google+ particularly focuses on images these days, this may not be hugely surprising, but there are other, more obscure groups still using Google+ on a regular basis.
Bread-making and appreciation group The Art of Bread is one of the most active communities, along with Board Games, a group for board game enthusiasts. Say you’re a bakery, or a cafe that stocks board games - there are definitely ways you can tap into these groups to drive customers to your business.
Jumpstart your Google My Business profile
If you have a Google+ profile, you can use it as a springboard to create your Google My Business profile - Google’s more up-to-date platform for businesses to advertise themselves.
Not sure about the differences? Read on and we’ll explain…
What’s the difference between Google+ and Google My Business?
Google My Business was designed to link up Google+, Search and Maps to create a holistic Google solution for businesses.
In practical terms, this means Google My Business has taken over from Google Pages (the original area of Google+ that was available to businesses) and added extra functionality, such as letting you display your opening hours and contact details, and making these visible from the search page in the Google Knowledge Panel.
Want to know more? Check out our guide to Google My Business.
How do I set up a Google+ page?
These days, Google My Business has largely taken over from Google+, and if you don’t already have a Google+ account, then you’ll be redirected to Google My Business when you go to create one.
However, a lot of the functionality of Google+ has been included in Google My Business (as well as the added features mentioned earlier), so you can use your Google My Business page in largely the same way you would your Google+ account.
Do you use Google+ for your business? Let us know what you think in the comments section.