Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
Google+ doesn’t have the user base or marketer interest of Facebook or Twitter, but its connection to search results is causing automotive marketers to closely watch the growth of Google's social media site.
In September 2012, Google announced that 400 million people had signed up for Google+ worldwide and that there were 100 million actively monthly users. But according to an August 2012 study from SEO software provider SEOmoz, only 54.9% of online marketers worldwide said Google+ was one of their top five most-used sites for social media marketing, compared to 87.7% who cited Facebook and 82.7% who cited Twitter. Google+ did, however, come in above YouTube, which 48.9% of respondents cited.
Additionally, 63.8% of respondents told SEOmoz that they had set up a Google+ business profile, compared to 75.8% of respondents who set up or ran a Facebook business page.
When looking more closely at trends that automotive marketers believe will have a big impact on the future of online marketing, however, Google developments, including Google+, registered high for auto industry marketers surveyed by SEOmoz.
The highest percentage of automotive marketers cited changes in Google’s algorithm, like Google Panda, and Google+ as likely to make authorship, site and author ownership of content more important in the coming years (85.9%). Additionally, 56.4% said Google+ was likely to become massively influential in search engine results pages. Adoption and use of mobile and Facebook’s domination were also mentioned by 81.7% and 69.1% of online marketers, respectively.
Looking at why marketers working for agencies representing car dealers and auto manufacturers use Google+ also shows its importance within SEO and SEM. In the SEOmoz study, compared to the other social networks, the highest percentage of respondents said they used Google+ for SEO (56.1%), and 65.9% said they used it to help with branding.
Interestingly, despite the lack of user numbers and buzz about the site, 66.6% of all marketing professionals surveyed said they wanted to use Google+ for social media’s most basic purposes: gaining followers and making connections. Unsurprisingly, this percentage still lagged behind Twitter and Facebook.
Google+ is a bit of a sleeper social network in terms of its user numbers and usage metrics. In an increasingly integrated automotive marketing industry, however, its impact is likely to be felt by Search Engine Marketing (SEM) professionals, including those focused on both Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as well as those who practice Search Engine Advertising (SEA).
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The question for those reading this forum post is:
Are You Using Google+? And, if you are, how important is the Search Engine Marketing impact that Google+ has to your decision to include the social network in your social media marketing efforts?
Great find, Ralph. To me, Google+ is extremely important for organic search rankings and is emerging as a social media marketing component as well. While it's no Facebook when it comes to branding, exposure, or getting the dealership's story out there, it's getting better. My Google+ account gets a decent amount of activity though not nearly as much as my Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Google is in the process of denying the influence of Google+ on search results. You can read this as "it's extremely important and we don't want SEOs to know this" because Google was saying pretty much the same thing in May of 2010 when asked about social signals, then reversed their story in December of the same year. Tests we've conducted show that Google+ may be the single most important influencing factor for SEO when applied from a "viral" perspective. In other words, when a domain has a piece of content on it that does well on Google+, the entire domain tends to gain in rankings as a result.
JD, I note you always refer to your Google + account when commenting on the value or influence that can be achieved via G+. How are those results panning out for business pages that you have seen? Other than national brands, what local businesses have you seen gain a tangible advantage via the Google + platform?
Certainly, there are nice features about Google + that can "follow" people to places like YouTube, but what real tangible advantage to SERP rankings are you seeing? How would you contrast that effectiveness vs say the weight Facebook Shares or back-links have on SEO?
In other words... If you had to invest your money in a dealership as a business owner, where on the list would you prioritize Google +? Right now, is it more important than Facebook? Twitter? P'interest? SEO? YouTube? Anything? Or is it something to do when you're awesome at everything else?
Tim, I know your question is directed at JD, but I want to chime in and say that there is no foreseeable circumstance when a dealer would have to choose between Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other significant social media sites. No dealer should be doing social media marketing without a decent content management tool, and all those tools allow the business owner to manage their activities and content posts across multiple social media accounts... Otherwise, there would be NO MARKET FOR SUCH TOOLS! The need for businesses to manage the curation, content posting, engagement and syndication of their articles, videos, images and all the above to multiple social media sites is what is driving the practice of social media marketing. So... Asking somebody to choose one particular network is like asking a customer to choose one of their four wheels to keep on the car... It simply is not done. Now, does Google+ merit being included in the top 5 major social media networks that should receive attention and content postings? Yes, of course it does.
Ralph's answer works for me.
To add to it, I know exactly what you mean, Tim. There are definitely challenges for localized brands like car dealers to get the momentum on Google+ that they're seeing on Facebook or Twitter, but it's a different type of traction that they're going for, at least for now.
People are not visiting Google+ for the same reasons that they're hitting FB or Twitter (or even Pinterest, or LinkedIn, or Tumblr, or...), but the true value comes less in the engagement on the Google+ page as much as the search benefits associated with high-quality +1s that can be garnered through the network.
Also, the bang for the buck today is with +1s and their influence on organic rankings but the eventual bang will also be associated with the presence that dealers have on Google+. The company is putting so much emphasis on the program and the way that it intersects with everything "G" now and in the future.
In my visit last month to Google, I was able to get some good insight about the future of the product. They are positioning it to be less of a virtual engagement network like Facebook and more of a life tool that can be used day to day, particularly for mobile. Think of it like a mega-Yelp combined with a more-interactive Foursquare. Mix in some Klout and sprinkle a pinch of LinkedIn for good measure. That's the best approximation of what Google+ is rapidly becoming.
Today, +1s are the bling on rankings. They're not as powerful as high-quality inbound links and they aren't replacing onsite content in any measure, but the mix is flowing properly in a way that it's becoming truly influential. We've been able to move some keywords without additional content or links through social signals alone.
If you put a gun to my head (please don't) and asked me to pick one place to spend my business social media time, it would be Facebook every time and twice on Thursdays, but as Ralph said, it shouldn't be a matter of which. It should be a matter of how can we do all of them. Fortunately it's possible to grow a respectable Google+ page with very little effort. It takes time but it's workable.
I have a post going live this week on SocialMediaToday that goes into greater detail. I'll repost it here once it's live. This is a great thread - let's chat this one out Tim, Ralph, and everyone else who's interested. This is important enough to keep rolling.