Google+ Pages have sparked a lot of discussion in B2B marketing circles. The ability to add multiple management functionality, site verification, and easy to integrate Google+ badges have leadership teams asking whether this truly is the next social media platform B2B marketers must focus upon.
However, all of the recent hype and scrambling to start marketing on Google+ should not come at the expense of equally critical B2B search engine marketing responsibilities. Balance short and long-term B2B initiatives carefully.
While we’re certainly jumping into Google+ Pages for Business and building our base of knowledge on this social network, here are five indirectly related but completely separate B2B SEO initiatives to remain in focus with, as 2012 rolls along.
Benchmark Not-Provided Keyword Referral Metrics
In my opinion, the biggest short term impact of Google+ Pages, for B2B marketers, will be the potential for rapidly increasing percentages of blocked keyword data, as encrypted search becomes more prevalent.
Here is a snapshot of the average percentages for “not provided” search traffic in our client base, spread out over the first five weeks of launch, and then the full months of December and January.
This not only impacts web traffic reports, but will make retargeting and marketing automation analysis more complicated (by not providing specific keyword metrics).
B2B marketers need to set appropriate benchmarks now and ongoing, specifically calculating trends in branded, non-branded, and not provided keyword information. Here are some resources and recommendations for establishing these benchmarks.
- Smarter Data Analysis of Google’s https (not provided) change: 5 Steps
- How to Understand Your Google “Not Provided” Traffic
- How to Analyze Google Analytics (not provided) Data
Nurture Your Best Third Party Referral Sources
The best links send traffic, leads, and also have a positive impact on SEO strategy. Evaluate third party referral reports to identify the communities, social networks, and publishers that send traffic and quality visitors.
- Know the people behind your best inbound links
Document referral sources and make attempts to secure contact information from these sources, for further link development and potential business opportunities as well.
Commercial solutions like RavenTools provide a nice interface for documenting contact information from link sources, but spreadsheets can also be a nice, free alternative.
Screenshot of RavenTools Link Contact Information
Quality Content Marketing Works, Regardless of Social Networking Platform
Content development becomes too complicated when marketers focus on how to satisfy requirements for specific, individual platforms.
Instead, focus on creating quality content marketing assets for any user within appropriate target markets and make sure to make these assets as “share friendly” as possible, regardless of platform.
Share-friendly content marketing techniques to consider:
- Social sharing buttons from popular social media platforms
- Multiple widths and downloadable information to fit various site dimensions more easily
- HTML code for embedding images, graphics, and media files
- Shorter, more memorable web addresses
Create More Permanent Communication Strategies With Site Visitors
Even though social networks like Google+ provide new opportunities for communicating to target audiences, don’t forget to attempt to ascertain more in-depth contact information once they get on the company website as well.
Conversion metrics should range from initial lead nurturing efforts to more in-depth sales-ready lead opportunities. At all times, make an attempt to collect email address information, name, and potentially ongoing communication preferences.
- Also, build professional networks, within and outside of Google+ Page management.
The element of social media I find most attractive is the ability to network with other professionals in the industry. While Google+ provides another opportunity to bridge these connections, don’t sacrifice successes already made in other social networks just to jump on a new bandwagon.
Benchmark Your Customers’ Interest in Mobile
My recommendation is to start querying your customer base on mobile device preferences, functionality, and what types of content they would like to see from your organization.
This can be done in “drip format” through newsletters, social media, and traditional surveys. Over time, you will have feedback from your audience to move forward in the right direction with your mobile strategy.
We are recommending and helping our clients develop Google+ Pages. While it certainly can be cumbersome juggling multiple profiles, platforms, and responsibilities, there seems to be much stronger likelihood that this social network becomes relevant. Google certainly has the resources and reach to support this social network and drive growth (even if their other social experiments have failed in the past).
But what if Google is making a major business mistake and B2B search marketers are getting taken along for the ride? Worse, what if we’re seeing the slow decline as a result of Google’s inability to adjust business models in time to catch the latest competition?
2012 could be a pivotal year for Google, in terms of audience development and influence. What will be key for B2B search engine marketers is to focus on growing their own organizations audience and networks, regardless of specific social networking platform, in an effort to tackle short and long term business objectives.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.