This week, the web marketing chatter has been all about Google+, the search engine's latest foray into social technologies.
Will it be a game changer, or another abandoned effort along the lines of their previous attempts, Buzz and Wave? The truth is, it's probably too early to tell. The beta users are (mostly) raving about it. Much of the talk has been centered around the question "Will people leave Facebook for Google+?"
That's a nice, juicy, tech-bubble gossip question that is loads of fun to debate. But it's not the question that matters to a local business.
Here are a few questions you should be asking about Google+ as a local business owner:
- Will it impact my current organic SEO efforts?
- Is there a business application? Can it help me save money on operations?
- Does it have sufficient adoption to make it worth diverting budget/time from my existing efforts to develop and execute a strategy?
As I said before, it's pretty early yet. The service is still in closed beta.
That said, assuming it has more staying power than Buzz or Wave, it likely will have implications for your organic search engine optimization program. Google has been moving increasingly in the direction of using social activity as a measure of authority and relevance for the past few years, so it seems natural that their own social technology will be calculated into the algorithm as well.
The most obvious business application for the service once it exits closed beta is not as a marketing tool, but as a collaboration tool. Services have been trying to become "Twitter or Facebook for Business" for years. Google has the natural advantage of being a platform most people are already signed up on. It also straddles the line between personal and business use. Facebook and Twitter are still firmly entrenched in the personal use space. The Circles feature of Google+ could be poised to claim that business collaboration space.
As for the last question, whether it's worth diverting budget or time from your existing efforts to develop and execute a Google+ strategy, I think it's way too early to make that determination. This is why it's smart to have a solid relationship with a digital marketing agency. Exploration and mastery of new and emerging techologies is part of their primary business activity. If you've got a good web marketing agency, they'll tell you when there's a business case for including Google+ in your marketing mix.