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Social Media Marketing Strategies: Why Google+ Communities Is Essential for SEOs

As any business owner with an online presence knows, social media is a key component of increasing your search engine rankings. Unlike some services, social media channels act as a low-cost or free opportunity to increase your visibility to the general Internet public. The goal of using social media is to get people talking about your company, product or services. The more Likes, Shares and +1s you can get on social media, as well as the more people begin talking about your website, products or services, the better your search engine optimization and the higher ranking you can achieve on various search engines, Google in particular.

Google+, Google’s social media answer, recently rolled out Google+ Communities. The initial buzz is positive, and the service can definitely have uses in search engine optimization. The main purpose for Google+ Communities is to allow conversations to be started with people who are interested in what you have to offer. This has the effect of bringing customers, and potential customers, closer to you than ever before. And, similar to Facebook Groups, these communities can be hyper-targeted towards nearly any niche regardless of how small it might be. Best of all, Google+Communities can be used to increase your search engine rankings if used properly.

Google+ Communities allows you the opportunity to grow your market by targeting people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. It’s safe to assume, since people have to opt-in to join the community, this gives you a great opportunity to raise your brand awareness to those who would be interested in your services or products but aren’t necessarily aware of your brand. The potential for mining new leads and contacts through posting information about your services or products, website links and just generally having open dialogues with potential new customers. To get the most out of your Google+ Community, you will definitely want to pair it up with your Google+ Business page.

In addition to attracting new potential clients ore opening the lines of communication better with existing clients, posts to a Google+ Community are a great way to get people talking about your company. As people respond to posts and create new posts your presence on Google+ and, by default your SEO with Google, increases. Furthermore, when a Community member shares a post to his or her Circles and those people share with their Circles and so on, this can increase your exposure and your SEO efforts exponentially.

Google Hangouts, which are integrated right into your Google+ Community page, is another way to interact with your customers and potential clients. It allows you to start up a video chat which will allow you to present your company with a “face,” allowing it to feel like more than another faceless company. By taking advantage of a Hangout, you can get people talking even more about your company, product or service. Additionally, you can broadcast your Hangout on your public profile. This also can allow you to answer questions potential clients and customers might have on a real-time basis, fostering good will and showing that you actually care about what their questions or concerns are. This can create a feeling of goodwill that is difficult to duplicate on other social media channels, which can lead to more discussion in general of what you have to offer among Google+ users.

One of the most common uses for Google+ Communities is the ability to use it as a sort of question and answer platform. This gives you the ability to show that you are an expert on a specific topic. You can use this opportunity to link back to your website or blog, and to have friendly social intercourse with customers and potential customers. You can also use Communities as a way to gauge interest in what sorts of topics you should be talking about on your website or blog, giving you a great opportunity to learn what interests people directly from the members of the Community. From what you learn about the questions people ask, you can plan to create a future blog post addressing questions that have been brought up on your Community. In the future, if those questions are brought up again, you can simply point to the appropriate blog post.

Because Google+ Community content is made public by default this means an increase in indexing by by Google’s organic results. The end result is several great chances to improve on your search engine optimization. These benefits are especially visible when combined with +1s provided by Community members and can definitely have a quickly visible effect on your organic growth. Furthermore, it helps Google find and index your new content with greater speed than before. It shouldn’t be long before you begin to see real, quantifiable growth in your search engine optimization efforts.

Google+ Communities are also a great place to connect with others in your field or industry. Many of these potential contacts are going to be tech-savvy individuals, and they will most likely be active with their own websites and profiles or groups on various social media sites. As you begin to get familiar with people in your Community, you will be able to tell who the truly influential members are. Those people can then be asked to write guest posts on your blog or perhaps you might get invited to create guest posts on their blog. Make a point to share quality content, and you may very well find that the influential followers in your Community will share that content with others. Aside from the potential SEO opportunities, this will provide a great chance for you to network with other industry professionals and networking is rarely a bad thing.

Although there was some criticism of Google+ when it first released the service has come a long way since it’s initial opening to the public. Google has released several features since the service’s inception, and many of those features provide excellent opportunities for business to interact with their customers.

Google vs. Bing: Why Microsoft Can’t Overtake Google in Search

BING — but its not Google?

For years, Microsoft has been trying to outperform Google when it comes to performing searches online. The company’s MSN Search and Windows Live Search options failed miserably at achieving such a goal, and Microsoft eventually shifted to renaming its search engine operation entirely. The newly named “Bing” has been making pretty big wave online since its debt several years ago but it has only managed to carve out a 12 percent share of the online search market in that amount of time. Meanwhile, Google maintains an enormous lead, with slightly less than 67 percent of all online searches being performed via Google.com.

Microsoft has made a lot of noise about the superiority of their operation, going so far as to challenge Google to a “search off” in a wide-ranging promotional campaign. All it has gotten the company is an extra 2 points of market share, with no real results to show for it. Toward the end of 2012, Bing’s rising position in search market share stagnated, even as advertising ramped up for the Bing search engine, the Surface tablet, and the release of Windows 8. The reasons that Microsoft will likely continue to fall well behind Google are many, but there are a few that are particularly painful for the company to deal with.

Google Sets the Search Engine Optimization Conversation

Google’s hugely dominant position in online search has given it the ability to largely define the terms of what constitutes a good website, with its algorithms being trained to identify good, authoritative, highly valuable content. That means developers are designing their sites specifically to fit within Google’s own paradigm, while the competitors online are merely fitting themselves into Google’s model for what constitutes a good, highly-ranked website.

Bing has tried to bring extra value to this by pairing with Facebook, which Microsoft owns a pretty big stake in. Using Facebook, results are filtered in a “social” way that aligns them with a person’s own interest. However, with 12 percent of the search market share and the inclination of many Facebook users to safeguard their data, this approach has had a negligible effect online. Furthermore, Facebook users who are logged out do not benefit from this social approach, making Bing’s returned results a touch less accurate than those provided by Google.

Search Placement on Google is Far More Valuable than at Bing

The problem with Bing is that it’s mostly perceived as an afterthought for marketing professionals who are looking to pay a premium for excellent placement in results. Google allows sponsored results to appear before its ranked ones, and many companies take advantage of this service. Bing has its own form of sponsored, highly ranked results, but they’re purchased by marketing professionals far less often. Most medium-sized businesses often have a budget that forces them to choose between placement on Google or Bing. With majority market share position, who wouldn’t choose Google?

The problem with this strategy is that it sets Bing up to continually take financial losses. In fact, the search engine has been a loss leader for Microsoft since the very first day it appeared online. Google, meanwhile, derives the vast majority of its revenue through its search product. With a combination of paid placement and Google AdSense products with every search, the company has mastered profitability and search result relevance all at once.

Google’s Web Services Beat Microsoft’s, Hands Down

Microsoft had an early lead in web services toward the late 1990s, when virtually everyone hat a Hotmail.com email address. That edge vanished over the course of the next decade though, largely at the hands of Google. In the years that have followed since Google unveiled its industry-leading Gmail product for consumer and business email, the company has released cloud-based calendars, productivity applications, blogging tools, and its own social network. Google Analytics monitors a website’s SEO, while Google News allows access to the latest headlines. Its investment in YouTube has paid dividends, and its Google Play store has tens of thousands more applications than Microsoft’s own Windows 8 Store.

Customers can, and often do, using Google for everything. Of course, every single one of Google’s web services runs its search operation through the company’s own software. Because Google beat Microsoft in web services, it now counts a larger base of daily users and higher revenues from virtually all aspects of its business.

Android, Android, Android

The battle for mobile dominance is one that exists largely between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Windows Phone 8 has single-digit market share, and it’s clear that BlackBerry is no longer a major competitor. Though Apple and Google compete in a major way, all searches conducted on an iPhone do, by default, run through Google. For all but the most recent year of the iPhone’s existence, its mapping tools used Google services and a YouTube app was installed by default.

On Android, every service runs through Google unless users change it on their own. With a majority of the international smartphone market share, this is an advantage that Microsoft will likely never overcome. Even if they did, it would take them the better part of a half-decade just to reach parity with the sheer number of Android devices currently on the market. With every Android phone sold, Google counts another search customer among its ranks that likely wont’ defect to Bing, Microsoft-owned Yahoo, or any other options.

Relevance is the Difference

Conduct the same search at both Microsoft’s Bing and Google’s search engine, and Google is likely to present a better set of results than Bing does. That’s what most users have found, except for those that Microsoft proudly touts in its “Bing it On” commercials that claim it offers more relevant results than does Google. When it comes to search, the relevance and value of every result is what determines the relevance and value of the search engine. This alone is what has contributed to Google’s dominance and, without a major change to Microsoft’s product, that isn’t going to change now or in the near future.

Dominating SERPs In Your Niche (Beyond Your Brand)

Will Scott recently published a post referencing SERP domination as “The Holy Grail of SEO”.  Coincidentally, I recently spoke with a client in the dental industry, they were looking to achieve a page 1 ranking in Google for a geo-modified version of the query “dental implants”.

“Chicago Dental Implants”, for example.

They explained to me that they were working with a limited budget and a relatively new domain.  The solution I suggested?

Utilization of Parasite SEO.  Geo-modified queries such as this as prime targets for promotion via established hosts.  Obviously, the longterm goal for any client is an effective ranking on their target query with their direct site, but true SERP saturation can be achieved in a quick and cost efficient manner by making use of established resources.  My suggestions:

LinkedIn Company Page
Create a company page integrating their target query into the company name.  This translates into your target query existing in the page title of your company page on LinkedIn.  It’s worth noting, LinkedIn allows the crafting of a fairly rich user experience by allowing a textual description of your company, embedded hyperlinks, a video feature, and even any special offers you might be offering at the time.  Promotion (and effective rankings) of these pages takes significantly less effort given their established trust and link equity.

PRWeb Press Release
Don’t believe press releases still work?  SEOConsult.com, referenced in Will’s original article, illustrates otherwise, as does my personal experience.  Leveraging a reputable company like PRWeb ensures you have an additional content source (think: low-hanging fruit) to promote to rank your target query with any copy you’d like.  Ensure the release is drafted with a positive spin, but avoid sales copy here.  Often times, third person neutral or positive mentions referenced from non-company sources can yield more interest than direct promotion.  Even if your content doesn’t get syndicated, your end result is an additional highly-relevant authoritative content source to promote.  Once again, ensure you work your target query into the title of the press release.  Minor linking efforts yield astounding results.  Voila.

YouTube/Google+
It’s not shocking that Google seems to have a positive bias toward effective rankings on pages within their own network.  Utilize unique copy for each, ensure the page titles on your respective profiles include your target query (preferably in a non-spammy way) and create or repurpose existing media featuring your company, product, or service.  The end result?  3 solid (query-specific, content-rich, authoritative) sources to promote via linking efforts that don’t require heavy lifting.

At minimum, using the techniques above, we’re able to generate keyword targeted content that responds exceptionally well to minor external linking efforts.  I have personally used these techniques to achieve non-branded SERP domination in as a few as 14 days.  Hundreds of other highly effective parasite hosts exist.  Invest your effort in creating content that’s compelling about your organization, the rest will fall into place.

Have you utilized this strategy?  What are your favorite content publishing sources?

Contributing Blogger: Zach Hedrick

 

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