The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Google Plus – Illustrated

You don’t need to be a therapist to understand word association. For example, when I say “Barney,” folks will typically think of the loveable purple dinosaur or the equally loveable Neil Patrick Harris (and if I’m lucky enough, the Flintstones character might come up as well).

So, given the universality of Google, you’d think “Google Plus” would be associated readily with search engine optimization. However, I receive one or more of the following three responses whenever mention Google Plus:

  • I don’t get it,
  • No one is there, and
  • I don’t have time for another social network.

I call these the “Three Great Fears” of Google Plus. We’ll address the first one in this post – the other two tomorrow.

I do get it. I know why these questions prevent further investigation of Google Plus because I had the very same questions myself for a good six months after I created my Google Plus profile. Yet here I am, a Google Plus fanatic and cultist despite the years I’ve spent fostering Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’ll let you in on how my transformation happened and, even more importantly, will outline the main reasons why Google Plus is a must – and why the Three Great Fears are invalid ones.

What is Google Plus?

Google Plus is Google’s version of Facebook. It’s a social network, but you should think of Google Plus as your Google search ID card. Google’s search engine wants to give its users the information that will be most relevant and useful for them. The integral role Google Plus plays in search results is to let Google know who you are by establishing a profile for you and to use the content of said profile to tailor the information it gives you.

For real estate agents and other small business owners, the element of Google Plus that matters most is how your clients’ search results are affected by the personalization of your profile. Letting Google know more about who you are as a business (i.e., what you post about, who you’re connected with, what’s in your profile) makes it easier for Google to connect a relevant searcher to you. So, start with a fully complete profile.

Why Google Plus is a Must

Let’s take a look at an example. I recently typed the query “new york real estate” into Google’s search engine. Here’s what my results looked like.

You should get about the same results as I did if you perform the same search.

Through the magicks of the Internet, watch what happens when I follow The Corcoran Group, a real estate agency based in New York, on Google Plus and then perform the exact same search.I’m going to let this bit of Harry Potter magic sink in for a bit.
By merely following The Corcoran Group on Google Plus, they knocked Trulia off of the top three results in my search results for a highly relevant keyword. (Admittedly, The Corcoran Group occupied the fifth spot on the first page of my results in the first place. Regardless, the lessons learned from this demonstration are still valid and they can be applied by any other business that uses Google Plus.)

Let’s break Google Plus down with some numbers. In September 2012:

  • Google Plus reached 100 million active users out of a total of 400 million users.
  • Google Plus had 27.7 million active users in the U.S., an 82 percent rise from the 15.2 million users it had in November 2011.

Almost 28 million active users. That is close to the number of people worldwide who watched Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong.

Facebook is a great way to stay in the forefront of customers’ minds, but at the end of the day, Facebook’s impact on search engine results is minimal compared to that of Google Plus. This is an important distinction because modern consumers frequently turn to Google’s search engine to help them with their shopping.

The benefits provided by having an active Google Plus profile are particularly relevant in the real estate industry; according to a recent report released by Google and NAR, 90 percent of potential homebuyers do their house hunting online. In today’s Internet-dominated world, the difference between a successful agent and one who never gets any business comes down to their rankings in Google. More often than not, the real estate agent who ranks higher than his competitors is the one who took advantage of the fact that there are 28 million folks in the U.S. who are actively looking to put them in their search results.

The Corcoran Group did this, but they didn’t need to get a million backlinks to their site in order to do so. They didn’t just post content on their blog. To succeed on the Google Plus social network, they actively went out and interacted with their community – they were actually social!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to address the next two hurdles to Google Plus – “No one is there” and “I don’t have time for another social network.”

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About the Author Alisa Meredith (311 Posts)

As co-owner and chief inbound marketing consultant at Scalable Social Media, Alisa Meredith spends a lot of time keeping up with online marketing trends for the benefit of our customers. Computers have been a passion of hers since her first T1-99, so inbound and social media marketing is a natural fit.


  1. Great start! I appreciate your “illustrated” part of the post, and can’t wait to see Part 2 and so on. Keep it up. I know for me, Google+ has been a game-changer for my business and online experience. I didn’t care for the other social networks, but before G+ they were the only options. When Google+ came out, I was sold!

    Blair Warner

    • Alisa Meredith

      Thanks, Blair! What is it about Google Plus that so appealed to you right from the start? I admit to being more comfortable on Facebook still, but I see the value in Google Plus for sure. Thanks for taking a moment to comment. The follow up will be out in the morning.

  2. I’m interested in seeing what else you have to say about Google+. I joined about a year ago, just after its beta testing, but then it has just sat there.

    Recently, I’ve participated in a Google Group, which has had me investigating G+ a bit more.

    Anything you have to share would be most welcome. I’m particularly interested in learning how G+ can help small biz owners.

    Thanks for posting this “tutorial”!

    Kathleen Birmingham

    • Alisa Meredith

      Hi, Kathleen. I joined first-thing, too and didn’t do a whole lot with it. I’m finding that the communities are drawing me in, and I’m making a goal to participate at least once a week. Actually, today was my first day and I’ve already seen great results!

      I thought Eric’s screenshots were very convincing. Compare the results one searcher who is NOT connected with you to the results they get if they ARE. Can’t argue with that.

      There will be a follow up post to this one tomorrow. You might enjoy our Google Plus category of blog posts.

      Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment!

  3. Thank you for this informative and comedic tutorial (I especially appreciate the use of popular MEME Base characters).

    I am relaunching my own small business and helping local small businesses and friends with their own biz do a better job at social media.

    Looking forward to the next edition!

    • Alisa Meredith

      Thanks for stopping by, Jason! Glad you enjoyed it. We share all our new blog posts on our Facebook page, so make sure to like us if you don’t want to miss any 🙂

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