Google Plus for Business; Here at last

Today saw the launch of Google plus for business – finally allowing businesses and organisations to add pages to Google’s recently launched social network. It is important to understand why Google are promoting this tool and what it means for you as a business.

What is in it for Google?

Google wants Plus to primarily provide them with signals of quality and importance relating to content online. Those signals will allow Google to rank that content more accurately, based on how people share and consume online information, enabling them to improve their flagship service; Search.

It is easy to forget (unless you’re familiar with the industry) that search is the cash cow for Google, and that all their extra services and products enable them to drive more traffic through their search properties, in turn displaying more paid search listings. The greater reliance on Maps, Gmail and Google Reader amongst a number of others increase the chance of a user clicking a paid search ad.

Now without their previous agreement with Twitter in place to include their content ‘real-time’ in Google’s search results, Google must react to regain some ground in the real-time search game. As the web becomes more dependent on real-time search, these kind of ‘quality, freshness and importance’ signals are crucial for Google to be able to return the most relevant search results to end users.

How likely is this to succeed?

With Google’s ability to influence the search results for such a large share of the search space, encouraging visits to their plus pages (and including the new +brandname search format) shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the search giant.

Given the investment that Google have made in Plus (and the reported weighting of employees bonuses on the success of it), it would be extremely surprising if Plus doesn’t become at least a ‘best practise’ inclusion in any social media strategy used alongside the existing ‘big three’ (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) in the social space.

Essentially, Google are prepared to put the cash on the table to *make* plus succeed. Only time will tell if this strategy will be successful.

Another interesting point, any form of Analytics appears to be missing, at the moment – strange that it’s a feature that Google have chosen not to have offered from launch, given their existing weight in the Analytics game, although it appears to be on the way. This is from the Google plus business page: "in the coming weeks we will be launching tools to give you access to as much data as possible about your Google+ Page and +1 activity: who’s interacting with your page and how; your users’ demographics; and info about their social activities like +1’s, shares and comments "

Perhaps (and I’d like to hope that) full integration with their existing Analytics service is in the pipeline – we’ve seen Google add Analytics tracking to their Wikipedia-like Knol service in a similar way.

As a business, what should you do now?

Get stuck in! Go ahead and register a page here – you’ll need an existing plus profile. Note though, at the moment there is no multi-user support, so either use a shared account, or be prepared to be the only account with the ability to update the page until that feature is added. Vanity URL’s aren’t available yet either, but will likely follow soon. 

Try to remember that your users aren’t going to want to see the same content you’re pushing out to Twitter and Facebook – make sure that you’re thinking about the people that follow you and the features of the platform. Oh, and get used to being free of the 140 character limit!