Three User Incentives That May Help Google+

google+, social networks, social media, googleGoogle, the online powerhouse, has a firm, steady reign when it comes to search. Google+, on the other hand, has been slow to take off. But Google may have new ideas to convert even the most stubborn social media users.

It’s not surprising that many have previously neglected to use Google+, even if they’ve created a profile. Google+ is awkward, lacks personality and even feels bulky compared to other social media channels.

While you can Tweet, share something on Facebook, or post pictures on Pinterest and Instagram, Google is offering its users different incentives that are not available on any other platform. These incentives could directly impact businesses and bloggers, encouraging them to use Google+ as their first stop for online social engagements.

Here’s how:

1. Higher Google Ranking (Using the +1 Feature)

The +1 feature on Google+ is comparable to Liking a post on Facebook, Retweeting on Twitter and Pinning on Pinterest. These terms are all well-known and frequently used in the social media circle. But now, Google, the search behemoth is using their weight to give +1 feature an extra advantage.

A recent Ranking Factors Study, conducted by Moz, a company that develops inbound marketing software and monitors social media influence, revealed that there is a significant relationship between +1s and higher Google page ranks.

PRs are important site indicators for online bloggers and businesses. They are part of a Google algorithm that measures a site’s location in search results, ranked on a scale from 1 to 10. The higher the PR, the better.

According to the Moz study, the +1 feature was the second most important factor of getting a higher Google page rank, the first one being the Page Authority, which measures content relevancy on a single page and its likelihood of being found in search results.

Since the +1 feature is now the second most important Google ranking factor, it clearly indicates the lesser value of other social networking tools.

In another study, Search Metrics, a company that provides search analytics software, conducted a Rank Correlation Study that predicts large future growth for Google+. They estimate that Google+ will overtake Facebook in terms of social sharing by the beginning of year 2016.

2. Online Credibility

As part of an online cleanup effort, Google enacts periodic algorithm updates, such as Penguin 2.1 and most recently, Hummingbird, as a way to discourage spammers from flooding the Internet.

But there’s a catch: in order for Google to deem pages as credible, both businesses and individuals have to sign up for a Google+ Authorship account and link it to their Google+ profile page.

Signing up for the account allows a company’s or blogger’s avatar to appear alongside Google search results. And while it helps to personalize the work of genuine bloggers and businesses, it also creates another dilemma: an undisclosed Google-based author ranking system.

Yet, as long as a Google+ Authorship account is needed for credibility, businesses and individuals will have to forgo knowing their authorship rank— until Google releases that information.

3. Better Directions & Businesses Information

Restauranteurs and retailers know the importance of being seen online. According to Google, 97% of customers go online to search for local businesses. A Google+ Places for business page allows businesses to verify their local listing and be more easily found in search results. Customers can then go online and quickly locate store information (e.g.: store hours, directions, menu and customer reviews).

While the Places feature is free, it’s an almost mandatory feature for businesses to have; without one they risk being completely hidden.

Google doesn’t have to play fairly in order to compete in the social media race. These incentives will force their 500+ million users to grow — allowing Google+ to dominate social media. Bloggers and businesses are already pressed to use it for online credibility; to decline Google+, means potentially facing an online no man’s land.

Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist for online education degrees. She has been published in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Business Insider.

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