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    Google Plus and Local Business: What You Need to Know

    Last updated 3 years ago

    In the last few weeks, Google Plus, the company’s latest launch into the social media space, has generated a lot of buzz, and it may be the fastest-growing social network ever, with recent reports claiming the project may already have 10 million users. Currently in beta, Google Plus has been the company’s most successful venture in the social space, after many different social projects it has launched to mixed results. So, what is Google Plus, and why does it matter for local businesses? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know:

    What is Google+?

    Google Plus is a social network, with similarities to Twitter and Facebook, but some interesting differences as well. The site is based around the idea of offering users some control over who they share information with through a feature called “Circles.”Essentially, a circle is a group of people you define and curate, designed specifically for sharing information. The site also features “Huddles,” which are group chats, “Hangouts,” which are group video chats, and “Sparks,” which are streams of content from around the Web based on topics you’re interested in.

    Instead of having a wall like on Facebook, the primary user experience is through viewing feeds of information, similar to Twitter or the Facebook news feed. But what’s unique about Google Plus is that you can view one feed of everyone you’ve added to a circle under the “home” view, select to view unique streams of information based on the circles you’ve created, or view a feed called “incoming” for people who have added you to a circle that you haven’t added to one of your own. Your posts aren’t limited to a short character length, and you can edit a post once you’ve shared it. Like a Facebook wall, you can comment on people’s posts and interact with other people, and if they’ve posted publicly, you can comment on someone’s post even if they didn’t share it directly with you.

    Google Plus integrates the +1 feature that the company launched last month, which has similarity to a Facebook “like,” except that it doesn’t actually share the content on your Google Plus profile. For example, you can +1 a comment or a post on Google+, just like you can +1 a website or blog post that has added the +1 button.

    Read our overview of Google Plus, walk through a Google Plus demo or learn more at the Google YouTube channel’s Google Plus Playlist.

    Who’s on Google+?

    The project is currently in beta, and you currently need to receive an invite to get a profile. If you want to join in, try asking someone you know who has an account to send you an invite or ask your Twitter or Facebook connections.

    Officially, Google Plus is currently just for personal profiles, meaning that businesses can’t set up their own profile yet. But, Google is launching a business page pilot soon, and they will work with a few hundred big brands and local businesses in the project, and will officially launch business pages later in the year. If you’re interested in being considered for the pilot, you can fill out a request form, though Google has already received thousands of applications and said they will close the form submissions at some point. Google also noted it will be shutting down business profiles that are not part of the pilot, so if you want to get involved in Google+, it’s best to just set up a personal profile so you can experience the site for yourself.

    What Can Businesses do on Google+?

    Just because businesses in general can’t have an official Google Plus Page yet doesn’t mean you can’t use Google Plus for your business! Here are a few ways you as a business owner can use your own Google Plus profile for your business and learn the rules of engagement on this new social site so you’ll be ready to use the business pages when they officially launch.

    Connecting – Because of the Circles function, Google Plus is a great place to connect with different groups of people online, including people in your industry and community. Creating circles that help you share and connect with different types of groups is a great way to use Google Plus to boost your visibility and grow your personal brand as a local business owner. You can also use the Huddle and Hangouts features as a digital networking platform, by sharing messages or creating video chats with associates, mentors, or peers.

    Linking – As a business owner, building your own personal profile and linking to your business’s website, review pages, and social sites across the web is a great way to get your business presence started in Google Plus and to create more inbound links to your sites. Make sure to list your business name in your own personal Google+ profile under the “About” section. You can share about your company in a variety of places on your Google Plus profiles, such as the introduction, bragging rights ( for example, XYZ Spa Named Relaxation Spot of the Year), occupation, and employment sections. If your profile is public, people will be able to discover links to the different elements of your business’s web presence through your personal Google Plus profile.

    Sharing – Google+ is a great place to share content. So, sharing blog post links, specials and deals, and other information about your business, community, or industry can help you interact with other like-minded business owners and help you learn and promote your expertise.

    The Future of Google+ and Local Business

    As the user base expands and official business pages launch, Google+ is set to be an important tool for local online marketing. Google recently ended its contract with Twitter to source its real-time search, and it’s likely Google+ will become the company’s source for real-time search data. There is potential for the social network to impact search discovery and SEO, especially since public posts on Google+ are available to search engines. Google Plus may also be an important tool for reputation management, especially if they integrate Google Places Pages with Google Plus Business Pages, as many

    expect will happen.

    The bottom line is that Google is an important player in the digital space, and as Google Plus continues to evolve, now is a great time to get involved as a local business owner. Have you joined Google Plus yet? What are your initial thoughts? What features or tools do you hope they’ll add as they begin to work with businesses on the site? Leave your thoughts in a comment!  

    Like this? Read these!

    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    Does Social Media Influence Purchase Decisions? [Report]

    Last updated 3 years ago

    The social media space has been making a lot of headlines lately. Google launched its social platform, Google+ to much buzz. Facebook hit 750 million users and announced live video chat. Twitter hosted a live Town Hall with the President. And that’s just in one week! There’s no doubt that the use of social media is continuing to grow, becoming an increasingly important, dynamic part of life.

    In fact, research shows that the use of social networks has roughly doubled since 2008. The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report in June that showed:   

    • 79% of American adults say they use the internet.
    • Of adults, 47% (or 59% of internet users) say they use at least one social networking site, compared with 26% of adults (or 35% of internet users) used social networking sites in 2008.
    • Of adults, the average age of social networking site users has increased from 33 in 2008 to 38.
    • More than half of adult social networking site users are over 35.

    The report also showed that people use different social networking sites in different ways. On a daily basis, 52% of Facebook users engage on the site, 33% of Twitter users engage, and 6% of LinkedIn users engage on the platform.

    As the use of social networking sites continues to grow and develop, eMarketer reports a study by ROI Research that showed how the use of social networking sites affects offline behavior, too. One question focused on what social network users will be likely to do after following a company or product on Facebook or Twitter: 58% of Twitter users said they would be likely to purchase, and 53% of Facebook users said the same. Further, 59% of Twitter users said they’d be likely to recommend a company or product after following it online, and 53% of Facebook users said the same. Plus, the study found that Twitter and Facebook users following a brand would be likely to talk about the company, link to an ad, or attend a promotional or sponsored event.

    Taken together, these reports illustrate the idea that not only are people using social media more and more as a way to connect with friends and family, they are also engaging with businesses and brands online, and ultimately, these interactions influence purchase decisions.  

    Do you use social media to connect with businesses? Is your business using social networking sites to connect with consumers? Share your thoughts in a comment!

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    Share it with your network on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about web presence optimization.

    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    Video Infographic: Mobile Trends Dominate the Internet in 2015

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Where do you see your online world in 4 years? Maybe you’ll be more reliant on your smartphone or trade your laptop in for an iPad, but either way, there’s no question that the mobile Internet is having a massive impact on the way consumers and businesses connect online.

    This infographic video from NeoLabels, titled "Digital Life: Today and Tomorrow," explores how our digital lives might be different in 2015. We’re already seeing huge numbers of social media, online video, and mobile users.  And as this video illustrates, the adoption of these online tools and applications will only continue to multiply.  

    The massive shift toward mobile shown in the video is especially poignant. One stat claims that the mobile-only Internet population will grow from 14 million in 2010 to 788 million globally in 2015, showing just how ingrained mobile devices will be in our day to day lives.

    What does this mean for your local business? Has mobile already impacted your business operations and online marketing? How do you see your business changing to adapt to this explosive trend?

    And, will the Internet in 2015 be so different from today after all?

    Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

    Tamara Farley helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.  

     

    Tom Martin Talks Mobile Marketing for Local Business

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Mobile marketing is a huge opportunity for local businesses, and now’s the time to start using it! Experts say that by 2013, mobile will be the primary on-boarding platform. Why is mobile marketing so powerful for local business? According to expert Tom Martin of Converse Digital, mobile is a unique marketing platform, because it’s in your hand, just like your wallet. Also, unlike traditional advertising, mobile doesn’t have the same scale costs if you’re using the right content and formats. This can help level the playing field for local businesses, making their brands more accessible to local consumers.

    Learn more about how small businesses can harness the power of mobile marketing to increase the visibility of their local business, ultimately helping them get more customers.

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    What is Web Presence Optimization?

    Last updated 3 years ago

    In the world of online marketing, simply having a website is no longer enough to ensure your business gets found by consumers online. You can both build and buy more visibility for your business online through a variety of tactics, from advertising to social media marketing. Through Web Presence Optimization, you can help your business get discovered by consumers across the web.

    Understanding Web Presence Optimization

    On the organic side, a familiar online marketing strategy called SEO (search engine optimization) helps your business website get discovered by consumers on search engines like Google and Bing. So what happens when you take that a step further?

    Essentially, Web Presence Optimization is the process of making your business (not just website) visible where consumers are active online – not just on search engines, but also on blogs, review sites, local listings, and social sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as well.

    Optimizing your brand’s web presence involves a variety of concepts, like search engine optimization, paid advertising, social optimization, reputation management  local listing optimization, etc. Of course, each of these components offers standalone benefits, but when you simultaneously integrate each of these areas to optimize your business web presence, it can create powerful benefits for your business. In addition to having an optimized website for your local business, here are some elements involved in web presence optimization:  

    Paid Advertising – Advertising your business online can help you quickly make your brand more visible and is one component of online web presence. Search and display advertising are two popular forms of paid online advertising that give you brand visibility where consumers are searching and surfing online.

    Claimed & Optimized Local Listings – Claiming your local listings on sites like Google Places and Yelp is an important part of optimizing your local business web presence. Not only does claiming your listings and making sure that information like your phone number and address are correctly promoting your business online, optimizing your listings to be consistent and accurate can also boost your brand’s search discoverability around your business name and even core keywords.

    Active Social Media Profiles – It’s also important to make sure your social profiles are not simply sitting there, collecting dust. Active social profiles are more likely to show up in search engines for your brand. And, now that search engines like Google and Bing are taking social signals like Likes, shares, and social mentions into account for search algorithms, search and social go hand-in-hand for optimizing your brand. Plus, active social profiles will give consumers an opportunity to engage with your brand. Ultimately, the more active entities your brand owns on the web, the more shelf space your brand can potentially own in search results.

    Fresh, Dynamic Content – In the past, one static website used to be enough to get found online. Now, you need to actively publish fresh, dynamic content, adding news, updates, and content on many sites to enliven and grow your brand on a regular basis. Search engines and consumers both favor businesses that are updating regularly, so establishing a dynamic web presence is critical for optimizing your web presence.

    Social & Search-Optimized Content – Consistent, quality content is not only a core component of search discovery, but it also fuels social updates and provides opportunities for brand engagement with fans and followers. Plus, a strategic approach to reputation management can use content publishing to help boost positive mentions of your brand. That’s why it’s important to have a homebase (like a blog or a Cast page) as the place for your brand to regularly post keyword rich, engaging content. Then, you optimize this content for search discovery (though keyword selection, link-building, onsite optimization, etc.) and for social sharing (through selecting interesting topics, creating engaging headlines, sharing images and videos, and publishing offers, deals, and promotions, etc.).

    Reputation Management – Managing your online reputation showcases your business in a more favorable light and helps your entire web presence as well. This includes monitoring your business mentions online across a variety of sites, monitoring and responding to reviews of your business on sites like Yelp, and even adding testimonials of your business on your own website or Cast page to boost online visibility of what your satisfied customers have to say. Your online reputation matters to consumers looking for local businesses and to your business visibility on other sites as well. For example, the number and quality of reviews for your business can be aggregated into your Google Places page, which creates a star ranking for your business based on how people are reviewing your business across the web.

    These components of web presence optimization all come together to help paint the picture of a great local business online. Are consumers using search engines to find your business? Are they navigating Google maps via their mobile phone and finding your Place page? Do they use Facebook and Twitter to find great businesses online? When you optimize your web presence, you help ensure that however they are spending their time online, local consumers can find your brand.  

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    Share it with your network on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about web presence optimization.

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    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

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