Google’s early gaffe of not adequately addressing the demand for brand pages for Google+ has quietly given way to several new business-oriented Google+ features for in-house marketers to utilize.
Brand pages, social extensions and a trusted verification process are all features in-house marketers should immediately engage with to increase their Google+ counts and brand profiles.
A Definition Of Social Extensions
Similar to other AdWords extensions, like Product or Sitelink extensions, Social Extensions are appended to the Campaign level and associate an AdWords campaign with a Google+ page. While there isn’t any indication that the outward display of the ad will change much, the +1 tally for the ad will update to reflect the Google+ page counts and vice versa.
The main advantage for in-house marketers implementing the new Social Extension is to boost their +1 counts all around, AdWords ads and Google+ pages will receive boosts from each other’s increasing +1’s. All AdWords ads display +1 buttons, a Social Extension does not impact that feature, it merely aggregates the +1 counts.
How Social Extensions Impact AdWords Ads
Whether a higher +1 count has a positive impact on AdWords ad click-through rates is yet to be determined, but certainly having a higher +1 number enabled by the Social Extension link to a Google+ page could not hurt.
Unlike other extensions, Social Extensions have no additional links or ad display features, the impact is only on the count near the +1 button that already displays on all AdWords ads. One could imagine a link to the Google+ page could appear in the future.
Most brands will want to undergo the Google+ verification process. A checkmark next to the Google+ page name indicates that Google has verified the authenticity of ownership of the page. Kudos go to Google for immediately getting on the authentication process and making it relatively painless for brands to undertake.
Hopefully, many squatting or misrepresentation issues will be avoided.
Google is proactively reaching out to brands to verify via email, and also provides a process for brands to report offending pages via the “Impersonation” option in the “Report this profile” function on every Google+ page.
As checkmarks will likely serve as a signal of authenticity to consumers, in-house marketers should work with Google to get their checkmarks established as soon as possible. Contacting your AdWords account manager is an easy way to get started.
The benefit to brands of Google’s new Direct Connect search shortcut feature is debatable. Direct Connect is a Google search shortcut to immediately navigate to a Google+ page. For example, by searching “+youtube”, a searcher is immediately taken to the Google+ YouTube page.
There is no doubt a nice advantage to quicker navigation to a brand’s Google+ page when someone is searching for it. However, with search suggestions (which already display Direct Connect suggestions), and Google’s desire to increase visibility of Google+ pages, brand name searches could easily be hijacked to Google+ pages versus the brand’s actual website.
Navigational brand searches are a huge volume of queries, and an easy way for Google+ to boost its traffic.
Perhaps a bigger question is that if Google thinks there is consumer value in a search shortcut for brands, how much value is really being added for consumers by directing to a Google+ page versus a brand’s website directly?
Ultimately, I would guess most consumers are looking to end up on a brand’s site versus a Google+ page.
At this time, there isn’t much a brand or marketer can do to influence a + search shortcut, Google will algorithmically determine them. There’s currently no information available about opting out of the direct connect shortcut. In-house marketers should monitor if their brand page receives a Direct Connect and what impact it has on brand related searches and site traffic. Potentially Google+ could become a larger referrer and brand search results less so.
No Time Like The Present
The floodgates are open for in-house marketers to engage with Google+, and there’s no time like the present to take advantage of these new social features. Whether Google+ ultimately succeeds or fails time will tell.
However, nothing but a little time is lost by setting things up early, and a possible significant +1 count advantage is gained by building as soon as possible. In-house marketers, set up your brand’s Google+ page here today!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.