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Online marketing experts have predicted 2014 to be the year of Google+. The social network already has upwards of 400 million users (as of May 2013), making it the second largest. However, Google+ still lags behind Facebook, which has roughly 2 billion users and is known as the king of social media. So what makes online marketing experts think Google+ is the basket to put all of your eggs in?

New Google+ Features

Google+ has made a few changes in the past year. The latest update allows Google+ profiles to send emails directly to the Gmail accounts of their followers, even if they don’t know their followers’ email addresses. This is great news for businesses using Google+ to market their brand – now they can continue email marketing campaigns through Google+. (It is, however, annoying for individuals on Google+ who might be concerned with privacy. Luckily, Gmail was updated with a feature that automatically sorts out promotional emails, leaving them in a separate inbox that is still accessible to the user.)

YouTube users were similarly irritated when their accounts were integrated with Google+. Now you have to have a Google+ profile before you can comment on any YouTube video. Take a look at the YouTube comments: links to profiles and pictures show up alongside the comments.

Although both of these changes have been met with mass disapproval, they show the lengths Google is willing to go to in order to attract Google+ users. After the initial resistance dies down, we might find more users on Google+ that came for the new features.

Google and SEO

Google+ may not be the favorite social network, but Google is the favorite search engine. As such, Google controls pretty much all SEO. Those who work with SEO know that Google’s rules are the strictest over Yahoo! and Bing, so whatever methods you use with Google will work with other search engines. These two reasons combined are why bloggers, social media marketers, and content marketers are primarily concerned with following Google’s updates. In fact, marketing was the top user category in 2013.

Google+ activity also weighs into the SEO algorithm. This is seen most obviously in Google Authorship. Those who write online articles can add Google Authorship to their Google+ profile; doing so lends more legitimacy and SEO weight to your articles. Authors with lots of followers will also have a better pagerank than those who are in less “circles” on Google+. Comments and posts that get “+1’d” also help SEO.

Okay, but will Google+ ever compete with Facebook?

It’s hard to tell if Google+’s upward climb towards more relevancy will mean pushing out Facebook. The social network has been a staple of Internet users for years, with even the least social media savvy individuals using it to connect. However, Facebook’s updates in 2013 were all a flop, including Graph Search and the auto-play of videos on the newsfeed. With Facebook about to introduce video advertisements, it may be that users will flee to Google+. So far, there are no ads on Google+, and users only receive updates from brands if they opt in.

However, it does not bode well for Google+ that the majority of the users are there for marketing purposes. At the moment, Google+ is a large echo chamber with marketers marketing to other marketers. If personal accounts flock to Google+, will they be ambushed with brands vying for attention? Will Google+ begin to offer paid advertising the way Facebook did?

Sources:

Watkins, Thomas. “Suddenly, Google Plus Is Outpacing Twitter To Become The World’s Second Largest Social Network.” http://www.businessinsider.com/google-plus-is-outpacing-twitter-2013-5. (13 Jan 2014).

Smith, Craig. “How Many People Use 370 of the Top Social Media, Apps, and Tools? (January 2014).” http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/#.UtRSYfRDt8E. (13 Jan. 2014).

Burnham, Kristen. “Google+ Email Changes: How To Opt Out.” http://www.informationweek.com/software/social/google+-email-changes-how-to-opt-out/d/d-id/1113393. (13 Jan. 2014).

Khera, Sanchit. “Why Google+ Will Demand Our Attention in 2014.” http://www.business2community.com/google-plus/google-will-demand-attention-2014-0738988#!r63ou. (13 Jan. 2014).