When most people think about reputation management and Google, they immediately think about SEO issues such as where their site ranks on search engine results pages and what kinds of information appears first when someone searches for their organization. While these are certainly issues that an organization needs to be concerned about, it’s important to remember that Google covers far more than just search results. It’s even more important for business owners to realize that they need to connect their various Google products together so they can maximize the profitability of the Googleverse.
Over the years, Google has grown to become something much larger than a search engine. Google+, the search giant’s social media service, has become the second largest social media network. Google Places and Google Maps, have become the defacto way to search for businesses and get driving directions. People between 18-35 watch Google’s YouTube video service more than traditional television networks. Understandably, many businesses are using these platforms to reach new customers. But since Google doesn’t automatically link together all of these services, business owners need to make that effort themselves.
For most of the various Google products, this is just a matter of settings. For example, if a business owner wanted their YouTube channel shown on the Google+ business page, they would click on Account Settings and go to the Connected Accounts section. There they could connect their YouTube account and decide how it would be shown to the public looking at their profile. As an added bonus, users can also connect most of their other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (etc.) this way. Connecting social media accounts to a Google+ page is a good idea because it means that once a user sees the Google+ page, they can then choose to follow the organization on their preferred network.
While connecting social media accounts is simple enough, it’s trickier to connect a business account to services like Google Maps and Google Places. The issue is that these accounts are for specific, physical locations so Google doesn’t allow there to be more than one listing for the same location. So in order to connect to their Google+ Business page to the Google Maps or Google Places listing for their business, they have to first verify and then claim the account. This can be as simple as verifying answer the phone at the location or receiving a postcard with a PIN from the mailing address. While this can be annoying, it’s important to do because the listings already exist (other people can make the listing for a Google Places review, and Google Maps bases information on publicly available data). By claiming their business’s listing, they can monitor what is being said about their brand, and use the listings to increase positive brand awareness by steering people toward their social media channels.
A simple thought experiment can help illustrate the value of connecting accounts throughout the Googleverse. Imagine two users who are looking at the Google+ business pages for two companies who sell the same products. One company has all of their various Google profiles linked together (Company A) while the other only has a basic page with no connections to other Google services (Company B). For the user looking at Company A, almost everything they could want to know about the business is conveniently in one place. (e.g. a map to the location, reviews from other Google users, connections to the owners and employees, e-commerce links, etc.). It makes it very easy for the user to go from learning about a business to buying from it.
On the other hand, the user researching Company B has to search separately for each of these pieces. Because Company B isn’t monitoring all of the information streams, some of them may contain erroneous information, and more importantly, each time the user stops and searches for the next piece of information, there is a chance they will find a different company to buy from. The user would only have to stumble onto Company A once and they would have all the information they would need to buy from them. All things being equal, such a difference in usability can have a significant effect on a business’s profitability.
When used properly, Google is the epitome of the ideal way to use SEO for businesses. By effective using keywords, marketers can make it so that from one keyword hit, a user is presented with all of the information they would need to immediately make a purchase from a business. Google offers so many products and services, it’s important to make the effort to verify and link the accounts together. By linking the various Google products a business uses together, an organization can maximize their earning potential from the Googleverse.