You waited for it, or at least knew it was coming: Google Plus. The search giant’s new endeavor has arrived, promising to gain traction in the web’s most recent holy grail “The Social Graph.” Given that your law firm generates a considerable amount of business in Google, this new development is something your law firm cannot afford to miss.
What is Google+?
G+ is more “business” than Facebook, more “personal” than LinkedIn and more “substance” than Twitter. – Steve Matthews
Google+, or G+, is an “identity network,” as stated by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. An identity network is a social network that Google will use to determine each law firm’s identity. With the social network data, also known as the social graph, Google is already compiling a conceptual picture of your law firm’s interests and connections, which as a whole establishes your identity.
The actions built within G+, as well as outside features such as search results and other Google products, are similar to those you might have grown accustomed to in Facebook. Actions such as sharing photos, linking notable content and adding friends are all part of the Google+ network.
The bottom line is that G+ allows Google to better personalize search results and advertisements because they better understand your law firm’s identity.
As of October, there were over 40 million users on G+.
That’s the who, what and why of G+. Now let’s step into what it means for your law firm and how to use it for your benefit.
G+ Improves Your Search Engine Rankings
If a G+ friend of yours searches for a law firm, and you have recommended (+1’d) your law firm website (which is the same as Facebook “liking”) it will rank higher in your friend’s search results. Google wants to deliver their users the best, most relevant search results and advertisements.
More often than not, you consult with friends or family when searching for information and/or referrals. You trust these people because, well, they are your friends and family. The same idea can be applied to G+ in that it is a mechanism to do exactly that, only this time Google is using your friends’ data to create even more relevant search results.
As a result of your sharing and voting for content, Google is able to make the distinction that if the content was good enough for you, it should be suggested to your friends in the G+ network. When your G+ friends make a search, webpages you have suggested will rank higher in the results.
Keeping in mind the fact that you influence your G+ friends and get better search engine results, what if you had hundreds, even thousands of relevant friends, or in your law firm’s case, possible clients? That’s where building your network comes into play.
More G+ Friends = More Traffic to Your Law Firm’s Website
Being popular in the G+ network is not much different than being popular in real life, in that having more friends allows you more opportunities to succeed. Via each person who follows you, your law firm is able to reach out to their connections and on and on and on. It’s what Google considers the ripple effect, and it is the opportunity to grow the audience and client base of your lawfirm.
While adding friends to your network seems simple enough – all you have to do is click the “add to circle” button – you have to offer reasons for potential clients to add you back. If it is not a mutual relationship, then it’s no relationship at all. You need to put time and effort into building your profile so that it provides value and is successful in nurturing relationships.
Get more friends using these tips:
- Be Real. Whether it is commenting on someone’s comment, photo, etc., be real. Have a real conversation. Do not just say “Hi, nice,” and get up and leave. That’s not a conversation.
- Be Disruptive. Disrupt the market like your competitors have not. Provide free advice; say something shocking; use G+ substantially more; provide an insanely unique service for your law firm’s clients. Whatever it might be, be different, be disruptive and your law firm will be noticed. For instance, I saw someone the other day say on G+ that they were out of Diet Coke. If I stick out my neck and have a 6-pack of Diet Coke delivered to their office, that will leave an invaluable impression. Just think of the effect such a small gesture could potentially have if that person is an influencer in your neighborhood or among your profession.
Resources for Finding Friends
In your law profession, your customers are most often members of the community around you. They are your neighbors and those neighbors’ families. There are a number of ways you can find out who those people are.
- Search G+
- Use G+ recommendations in the right sidebar
- Inside of the Circles page, use “Find People”
- View Ripples
- Search FindPeopleonPlus to find users by location as well as other demographics
What Your Law Firm Needs to do Next
Activity by you and within your communities – in a sense – becomes the basis for providing more relevant search results and ads. It makes sense to devote time and resources to G+. It may not surpass Facebook’s 700 million users, but social graph data from G+ will increasingly influence search engine rankings and drive traffic.
G+ does not stand alone. It is continually woven into all of Google’s applications and will one day become seamless. The time is now to get started in G+.