Google+, Google's social media equivalent to Facebook, has had a meteoric rise in the number of users over the last year. We've been telling our clients that they need to be on Google+ for the last two years, because we saw a trend and statements from the Executives at Google that told us that if you wanted your website to rank well in the search engine results then Google+ is where you needed to be now.
Google+ came out of the ashes of when Google tried to buy Facebook. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pretty much gave Google the bird and as a result Google+ was born in 2011. For the first 1 1/2 years user acceptance was relatively low. After all Facebook was in its hay day, but some users were getting burned out with the amount of time they were spending on Facebook and other social media sites and didn't want to spend more time building a new community of Google.
And then came along the search engine optimization (SEO) professionals. Wise SEO consultants started seeing that Google was and was going to be using data captured from Google+ to start figuring out how websites should be ranked. You may ask yourself how your Google+ interactions would effect how your website would rank? The answer is two fold. Trust and traffic. Google knew for a long time that there was a weakness in making backlinks one of the most important ranking factors. From the massive amount of data that Google is able to mine from Google+ they can get a pretty good idea of how people interact with you and what kind of traffic you and your customers drive to your website. From that they get a very good idea of the kind of trust your community has in you and that is a ranking factor.
So in 2013 the SEO community started becoming the biggest evangelists for Google+, telling their clients that if they wanted their website to rank well then they needed to build an active audience on Google+. When we told our clients this the reaction was usually similar. A bit of resistance, followed by "another social media community to build?" Then followed by acceptance once they understood how Google+ would help their SEO rankings down the road. In 2013 Google+ doubled their number of registered users, going from 500 million to 1 billion users and a 33% increase in active users as compared to 23% for Facebook.
In 2014 we have seen a major increase in activity of Google+. In 2012 when you followed people on Google+ they didn't follow you back like they do on Facebook. In 2014 the community has become much more active and robust making it not only a great way to increase your website ranking but also an excellent way to drive new traffic, community to your clients and build your brand.