Google+ may be the smallest of the major social networks, but it still is a must for business owners.
In 2011, Google launched Google+, a social network that at the time was hailed to be the "Facebook killer." The hype surrounding the platform wasn't surprising. After all, Google was already one of the most powerful brands in internet history. Google was also instrumental in creating the Android mobile phone platform, which was gaining rapidly in popularity. If they were entering into the social media space, it had to be a slam dunk, right?
Well today, despite more than 400 million users, Google+ often gets less attention than social media heavyweights of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Why is Google+ far less popular than those options? And is it still a worthwhile investment of time and resources?
While I can't give you a definitive answer to the first question, I can say without a doubt that your business should still have a presence on Google+, even if it isn't as pronounced as the other platforms. Here's why:
Google+ Boosts Your SEO Presence.
A strong Google+ presence will usually rank highly on the first page when you search for your business, and will sometimes rank higher than Facebook, even if you are more active on that platform.
But Google+'s power goes beyond just rankings. Google+ links to Google My Business, the search engine's native business directory. You can also use Google+ to collect reviews. These are the only reviews Google uses to give star ratings on your search engine results page. Want five little stars next to your profile when someone searches for your business? If so, you must have a Google+ page.
One of the most useful features of Google+ is still the ability to segment your audience into circles. You can separate some of your most valuable customers into a circle and present them with content or promotions only they can see.
The downside here is that your customers aren't using Google+ the same way they use other social platforms, but your use of the platform could draw them to it more often.
Google+ Still Matters to Google.
More than 80 percent of U.S. consumers use search engines to find businesses and local products, and Google has a great deal of influence both in traditional and mobile search. More than 80 percent of all of the smartphones in use today run some form of Google's Android operating system. This means Google's search features are automatically integrated with those smartphones and are still the most popular option for Apple. And if Google+ still matters to Google, it should matter to you.
Google+ can deliver important benefits, and it's a good idea to have a presence on the site if you're a business owner serious about search engine optimization.
This article originally appeared on Inc.