Given the way people use the Internet to make purchasing decisions these days, if you own a small brick and mortar business you really need to invest in your online presence. Just make sure that investment includes Google and it’s social network G+.
So I’ll stop here and say that this is not a post about why this particular social network is good for your business or why you need to be spending “x” amount of hours per week on the platform. Whether or not using Google Plus by itself will bring tangible benefits to your business is debatable. There are some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the fence.
Rather, this post is about the way Google has come to both define and control the way people create, share, and engage with the web’s content. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s very hard not to see the real monopoly Google has over Internet search as well as the company’s almost compulsive need to unify the web’s functionality into one massive, interconnected service. Recently, another brick was put in the wall with the launch of Google + Local pages- a kind of Internet portal for your business that includes customer reviews, photos, and other vital information about your business, such as location, hours of operation, and even a Google street view.
So what does all of this mean for you and you and your business? It means that in order for people to find you on the Internet the vast majority of the time they will have to go through Google- its self-made gate keeper. It means, playing by Google’s ever changing rules- whether you like it or not, agree with it or not. And unless you know how to get people to click through, your presence on Google may actually end up taking away from your business website.
So where does all of this leave you, the small business owner? It means that you need to start thinking about your overall web marketing tactics, including finding multiple sources of traffic so you can at least reduce your reliance on Google, keeping an eye on Google’s movement, and either hiring a qualified web marketer to help you with your online marketing or educating yourself in order to position your business in the best places online and learn how to convert that traffic into sales.
Bottom line: even if Google is the Internets gatekeeper, you want to still make sure that you’re the one left holding the keys.