Google Plus Is Now Public

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A lot has already been written about Google+, the new share button from Google seen by many as the search engine’s answer to the Facebook ‘like’ function. The road to social media domination has been a rocky one for Google with several aborted communities and tools in its recent past. Google+ also looked to be off to a less than stellar start with businesses not allowed to use the platform despite Google engineers admitting that the number of +1s a page receive may very soon become one of its many ranking signals.

Now that Google +1 has officially moved from beta to open access, advice about using Google +1 to drive higher volumes of traffic to sites is springing up and many pages are sporting a colored +1 button alongside their pre-existing Twitter and Facebook icons.

Going from invitation only usage to open access last week was a significant step for Google but one that appears to already be bearing fruit – stats from industry monitors point to a 1269% increase in traffic since the public launch and a milestone 15 million US accounts achieved. Google +1 is now also the eight most visited social media network on the planet, a way behind Facebook perhaps but undeniably catching up fast. Some analysts suggest the site is acquiring new users at the rate of two million per day, putting it much closer to challenging both Twitter and Facebook in the near future.

So, how can you use this new tool to improve your search standings?

1.  The very first thing to do is to get the Google +1 button added to your website. The groundswell of interest in +1 is peaking and those lacking the button at this crucial stage may find it hard to catch up with competitors.

You can find the code to add Google +1 to your site here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/ and learn how to customize it here: https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/+1button/

2.  The Google+1 button can be added to all of your internet properties so make sure you perform a full audit of your online tools and presence points to be sure you’re allowing your buttons to gain as much traction as possible. Add to a blog page for example or your Squidoo lens, as well as your main website.

3.  More than anything, Google +1 is a social tool and while it’s still in its infancy, Google has been quite strict thus far about its business use. With its link to Google circles and emphasis on sharing what interests you rather than what you can promote as a business, developing a sustainable, social-centric presence is crucial. Take a leaf out of Mashable’s book and have a figure head from your company create an account, sharing things that genuinely interest them rather than simply adding a +1 click every time you upload a piece of news or new product.

4.  One of the common misconceptions about SEO is that it’s worth spending time writing and rewriting meta descriptions in the hope of securing better rankings– it’s amazing how many companies taking on an SEO expert always point to this activity as proof that they have been working on their marketing in-house, unaware of the fact that the description tag is no longer a Google search signal. Having said that, now may be the time to go back to basics and put a little extra effort in the description tag.

While it’s always worthwhile formulating an engaging meta description as a call to action for users seeing the page in the search results, a high quality meta description is now a must with Google +1 buttons sitting at the side of every search result. Where a token description may have cut it in the past, an inviting, original and memorable meta description can be the nudge viewers need to +1 your page in the search results – helping to cast a wider net of visibility amongst their circle.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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