Google+ Is Not An Optional Component of Your Digital Strategy


Ahhh… Google+, the social media property that we all explored eagerly, and then ignored. Neither as convenient as Twitter, nor as familiar as Facebook… for a good long while, nobody really knew how to use it for business.

But that has changed. And if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to dust off your Google+ account and do some work.

This is because Google has decided to make Google+ the lynchpin for several of their endeavors. Many new features from Google require it:

  • Google Authorship requires a Google+ account for users
  • Google Publisher requires a Google+ Page for business
  • Google’s In-Depth Articles require a Google+ Page for business for additional branding
  • Google’s Direct Connect requires a Google+ Page for business (or a Google+ personal account)
  • Google+ Pages can affect search rankings

If you’ve not been following the latest developments (and who has time to stay on top of everything), some of these may be new to you. Here’s a quick run-through of what’s new at Google for digital strategists and marketers.

Google Authorship

Google Authorship is a way for content creators to associate their Google+ profiles with the content they create. This can lead to enhanced listings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and may affect how the content ranks in results.

For a full description of Google Authorship, see the Geonetric Google Authorship FAQ.

Google Publisher

It’s kind of like Google Authorship, but for your organization’s brand. Instead of being tied to a personal Google+ account, it uses a Google+ Page for business.

If you’d like to learn more about Google Publisher, we’ve covered it extensively in the Geonetric Guide to Google Publisher.

In-Depth Articles

This new feature attempts to find authoritative and in-depth articles on various topics and gives them special treatment in search results. For instance, a quick Google search for the term “anxiety” returned special in-depth article results in a distinct section of the search results page:

Image of Google search results with In-Depth Articles results highlighted

There’s a lot of embellishment in in-depth article results that is likely to draw the attention of viewers browsing the search results. These include the following attributes:

  • Oversized images from the articles – pulled from the articles
  • Publisher logos – pulled from markup or from the Google+ Page indicated by Google Publisher attribution.
  • Author attribution – pulled from Google Authorship attribution in the article.

While Google doesn’t say that connections to Google+ via authorship (or publisher) are required for in-depth article enhancement, they do say that “it helps our algorithms find and present relevant authors and experts in […] search results” (source).

Direct Connect

Google describes this new feature this way:

Google+ Direct Connect lets you quickly navigate to a Google+ Page (and even add that page to your circles) when using Google search. For example, if you searched for the query +youtube or +pepsi, you could be immediately taken to the YouTube Google+ Page, or the Pepsi Google+ Page, and given the option to add the page to your circles. (source)

That you haven’t heard of it yet probably suggests that the feature hasn’t exactly taken off… but if you want to provide this capability to your market, you’re going to need a Google+ Page.

Google+ Pages

When Google first launched their new Google+ service, they only had accounts for people. Google was clear in their insistence that business options were coming, and advised organizations not use standard Google+ user accounts for their organizational identities.

Nobody listened.

Or rather, very few organizations and businesses did. And for a long time, it didn’t really seem to matter much. Even after Google announced their Google+ Pages for business use.

But now things have changed. Google+ has now become a platform that either influences or enables everything described above.

If you are using a Google+ personal account to manage your organization’s identity, you have some work to do.

Namely, you need to spin up a Google+ Page for business and start using it to manage your presence on Google+. This may mean re-adding people to your circles and educating your patients, contacts, clients and associates of the change.

It may seem like a lot, but if you are currently misusing a Google Personal Account for your organization, the longer you wait, the more painful the move will be.

And the longer you wait, the more you’ll miss out on new features that Google is deploying through Google+ Pages… things like Publisher, Authorship, branding on In-depth articles, etc…

So, if you haven’t yet moved to a Google+ Page for business, the time to start is now.

Google+ Pages and Search Rankings

There has been much speculation about whether or not Google favors organizations that have Google+ Pages in search results. Let’s be clear about this: simply having a Google+ Page for your organization does nothing for your search results.

There is no quid pro quo.

However, it is a signal… so having an active Google+ Page with lots of subscribers (circle-ers?) sharing links to your content and your page… that can correlate with improved search rankings.

In addition, Google is clear that having a Google+ Page presence will help in the following scenario: People who have added your organization’s page to their circles, and who otherwise interact with you on Google+, will have search results for relevant queries customized to display your organization’s results over other results with whom the user does not have a Google+ relationship. This is part of Google’s “personalized search results” movement.

With that in mind, it might behoove you to not only to establish your Google+ Page for your brand, but also invest in using it to make connections with your market. The more people who add you to your circles, the better your brand will perform in their searches.

Does our Healthcare Organization Really Need Another Social Media Presence?

A well rounded social media presence is part of any organization’s digital strategy, including that of your hospital. In the words of Avinash Kaushik:

Social is not a silo. Social is not a one-off. Social is the core integration of users and conversations into everything we do on the Web, personal and professional. (Web Analytics 2.0, 242)

Even if we leave beside all the enhancements Google provides through Publisher, Authorship, etc… a simple calculous prevails:

These forces described above…the advantages of authorship, publisher, personalized results for your audience, brand identity in results… these are motivating businesses and organizations across all industries to integrate Google+ Pages into their online portfolios.

The customers of these organizations are your patients.

As more and more of them become accustomed to interacting in Google+, your absence there will have an increasingly deleterious effect on your organization.

So yes, your healthcare organization really needs to be on Google+. Specifically, you need to have a Google+ Page for business. If you already have one, then what’s stopping you from wiring up Google Publisher on your site’s home page?

Geonetric and Digital Strategy for Healthcare Organizations

Staying on top of all the changes is an increasingly difficult job, especially when it’s on top of all the other work you do already. Geonetric is here to help. We’re experts in digital strategy, and we work exclusively with healthcare organizations around the country.

If you’d like to learn more about how Geonetric can help your healthcare organization, contact us to start the conversation.

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This entry was posted in Search/SEO/PPC, Social Media by Michael O'Neill. Bookmark the permalink.
Michael O'Neill

About Michael O'Neill

It’s not often you find a communications professional who is an expert writer, understands the power of social media and has the technical capabilities to embed on and contribute to software development teams. But that’s exactly the background Michael brought with him to Geonetric as the technical communications strategist. From writing eBooks to managing Geonetric’s digital presence, Michael uses his software know how and his marketing savvy to help tell Geonetric’s story through a variety of platforms. This former adjunct professor holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Worcester State College in Massachusetts and completed graduate level coursework at the University of Connecticut. In addition, Michael is also a Certified ScrumMaster, a contributing writer at iBusiness Magazine and a member of the Board of Directors at Gems of Hope. This new dad is known for his high coffee standards and has quite the following around the office when he brings in his favorite craft-roasted beans.

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