If you’re diligently updating Facebook and Twitter, you may feel like your healthcare organization’s social media is under control. But, if you’re not updating Google+, you’re missing out on a social-search powerhouse.
Google+ may not seem as popular as Facebook, which has more than 1 billion monthly users, but the social network still boasts 300 million active users. And, then there’s search—the word Google has become a verb for good reason. Google handles 100 billion searches every month.
So, what’s the connection between search and social?
Think about how your news spreads on Facebook. You post something. Your followers see it and some like or share it, adding to the likelihood that more people will see the information. The system relies on you to build your base or pay for ads.
The cool thing about Google+ is it does some of the work for you. Content spreads out like a web of expanding interconnections. When you post content on Google+, it spreads beyond your page to your followers’ pages so that their followers can see your content as well. And because of the integration of Google+ with Google search, this could lead to higher search rankings.
If your organization has a Google+ account linked to its key landing pages and blog posts, it will show up on the right-hand side of the Google search results page when people look you up. When it comes to search engines, it’s all about visibility. The second someone searches for you, they have the chance to interact with your content and start following your activity.
Web developers call this “rel=author.” In English, this means content is related to a specific author through their Google+ page. Here’s Matt Cutts, head of Google web spam, talking about how this will impact search rankings.
So, why is it that Google+, a powerful social media tool with the not-so-hidden bonus of integrating with Google search, doesn’t even register in the minds of many healthcare organizations? Why isn’t every healthcare organization using Google+?
3 reasons your healthcare organization is not using Google+ (yet):
1. You are suffering from social burnout
The idea of updating one more site makes you want to cry. Trust us, Google+ is worth the effort.
2. Your patients are not using Google+
That may be true, but it’s likely that they are using Google to search for health information. Sharing content on Google+ may help your content rank higher in the search engine results.
3. Your organization doesn’t use Gmail
Yes, you do need a Gmail account to get started with Google+. But setting one up is free and takes five minutes. If your clinicians and team members have personal Gmail accounts, then they automatically have Google+ accounts, too. Ask them to follow your organization and start sharing content with their networks.
Here are 3 simple steps to get started on Google+:
1. Set up a Google+ account
In order to set up a Google+ page for your organization, you—or someone in your organization—must first have a personal Google+ account. The good news is that if you use Gmail, you automatically have a Google+ account.
Don’t use Gmail? No problem. It’s easy (and free) to set up an address.
2. Set up your Google+ page
Here’s a video with 4 steps for setting up your healthcare organization’s Google+ page
3. Connect your Google+ account to your healthcare organization’s blog posts and landing pages
Web development guru Andy Crestodina has some easy instructions on how to do this.
Bonus: Try Google Authorship, a tool that establishes you as the official author of your website or blog’s content, explains the Google Webmaster blog. It looks like this:
Google has figured out that people like to read content from other people, not from anonymous entities. Giving a human face to your healthcare organization’s content, has been shown to dramatically increase traffic.
A January 2012 study by Catalyst Search Marketing found that “rich snippets”—like the Google Authorship blurbs—can increase site traffic by 150%.
But remember that when using Google+ for your organization, content quality always matters. If you link your organization to spammy, low-quality content, it can actually end up hurting your site’s search rankings in the long run.