By Ray Hiltz, {grow} Community Member

Hi. My name is Ray, and I’m a Google+ addict.

Friends try to make me stay put on Facebook. I say no, no, no. Sometimes to get them off my back, I’ll slip into the walled garden for a quick poke and a “like” here and there. But dodging “ads” and “sponsored posts” kills the buzz and I’m out of there. Google+ is the place for me … and maybe for you too.

The “plus” in Google+ is the skeleton key that opens the doors to the wonders of the Googleverse: YouTube, GMail, Android, Drive and more.You can trip on the high resolution images, the awesome photos and gifs and spend days reading insightful posts. You can also get a lot of business done.

You can follow whoever you want on Google+ as a personal profile and a Business Page. Google has a high stake in getting you hooked on “plus”. The more successful you are, the more money you can spend on Google Ads.
When you ask people why they they should be on Google+, they invariably reply, “To get good search results rankings.”
But the benefits of Google+ goes way beyond SEO. Not convinced?

Here are 10 things that might tempt you to take a walk on the “Plus” side.

1. Google Plus is Google (ver 2.0).

Google+ is not just another social media platform. It’s the social hard drive that’s wired to all Google products. Whatever Google product you touch: YouTube, Gmail, Drive, etc., your social fingerprint is filed and matched to your online persona.

Google knows who you are, who your friends are and where to find you. (Feeling paranoid, yet?)

2. Google+ is “happening” baby.

If Google+ is a “ghost town,” then it’s the rockingest graveyard on the internet.
Google Plus has some serious networking going on. As in real life, much of that isn’t happening in public. People are meeting in Communities and messaging each other in Circles. Unless you’re connected, you won’t see these interactions.

Even with that, these are impressive numbers for a network under three years old:

3. You can create private and Unlisted Hangouts On Air (HOA’s).

(If you want to keep things on the down low.)

Hangouts are the entry drug to Google+. Nothing powers online relationships faster than communicating face to face and extending a digital handshake through a video meetup. Hangouts on Air are public by default, meaning anyone has access to the URL, can view them.

Now you can create private HOA’s via your YouTube Channel’s “live events” tab. You can select private, unlisted or public as you can for any other YouTube upload. Businesses, schools, non-profits can hold private video meetings that are recorded and uploaded to their YouTube channel.  No, you don’t have to leave Google+ to have an “unlisted” HOA. You can create it the same way you do a regular one, but instead of inviting the public or circles, invite yourself or a couple of friends.

This is a great way to practice using the app. Once it’s over and uploaded, you can decide to keep it private or open it up to everyone to see. Oh, did I mention this is all free?

The “plus” in Google+ is “you.”

Google needs to mine as much personal relationship data as possible to maintain it’s position as the world’s largest search engine. To be the best, it needs to come up with search results that are the most relevant and contextual. So, search becomes personal. (semantic). Relationships matter – a lot.

Google+ was created as an identity engine. To ensure the content it chooses to place on the first page of search results is the best it can find, Google needs to trust the source of that content. Google Authorship verifies who you are and links you to the content you produce anywhere on the web.

5. Google+ Posts are indexed fast.

Like any good “supplier,” Google+ knows how to keep you hooked. It appeals to you ego by validating your importance in its search results. Because Google has limited access to Twitter and Facebook, those pages (including posts and tweets) don’t factor in search rankings.

However, Google+ posts get indexed within minutes. While this doesn’t guarantee you getting star billing on the search engine results page (SERP), if you have been a loyal customer and played by the rules, it gives you a head start advantage.

6. There are no “ads” on Google+.

And there won’t be anytime soon. But there will be Google+ on “ads.” The new interactive +Post ads will allow brands to turn their Google+ content, including HOA’s, into “engagement” ads.

Those ads will appear across the Google Display Network (millions of sites) and with a click, you can comment, follow or in some cases, actually make a purchase. If you have a Google+ brand Page with at least one thousand in your circles, you can have access to +Posts ads now.

7. You can use Google+ Circles as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Google+ circles are more than filing cabinets for followers. A circle can consist of a single person or as many as 500 people. You can share a private message to a circle of one or a newsletter-type post to a larger circle. People can even have “opt-in” circles.

The ability to drag and drop people in and out of multiple circles provides a visual way to manage your sales funnel.

Each person’s profile page has a contact form at the bottom of the page where you can enter coordinates, notes about meetings and other relevant information.

8. There are four types of Communities on Google+.

Google+ Communities are where networking happens. They’re created around a specific interest which makes it the perfect place to show off your expertise. The four types that reflect different levels of accessibility:

  • Public 1 – open to all
  • Public 2 – Moderator approved
  • Private 1 – Moderator approved, only members see other members & posts
  • Private 2 – Invitation only. Not shown in search results.

All Communities can be found on Google Search except for Private 2.

9. Google Authorship gets your mugshot on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s)

But it ain’t definite! Everyone’s running to get their Google Plus “rich snippet” so they can have their photo appear next to their content in search results. Who wouldn’t want a dramatic increase in click through rates (CTR) let alone the narcissistic pleasure of seeing your face in search results?

Remember Google’s business model? Deliver the most relevant search results possible. To ensure that, it looks at the following three factors before deciding to give you billing on it’s SERP’s:

  • Author reputation
  • Content quality
  • Site reputation

10. #Hashtags power search on Google+.

(And we’re not talking brownies, here.)

If you use hashtags on Twitter, you know how great they are for finding trends and topics. Google is a search engine, so no surprise it’s embraced hashtags. In fact, if you don’t include a hashtag in a google post, it will do it for you. (you can turn this option off) Is it good to be addicted to one platform? No.

As much as I’m hooked on Google+, the social web stretches across the whole internet. And so does Google. Remember, Google+ is Google. If you want to rank high on SERPs, stop writing for search engines and write for people.
If you provide helpful, authentic and original content, Google will find you.

Have you found Google+ yet?
Ray HiltzRay Hiltz is a Google+ Social Strategist helping small businesses be found, followed and first. A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and “humanized” digital networking, Ray writes about social business and Google+. Ray is a popular speaker on Social Digital Strategy and Google+.

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