Google+ can best be described as the integration of all Google products into a social platform. The ability to share what you’re doing and seeing on the Internet has become commonplace with how pervasive social networking and social media have become. Rather than allowing each of its products to become siloed and standalone, Google decided to evolve them to function together as part of a larger Google experience.

At the core of Google+ is a social networking tool that allows you to add friends, create “circles” in order to categorize your friends list, instant message with people, and even participate in “hangouts” which allow people to video conference in groups. In essence, much of the functionality that has come to be expected from a social network is present. However, while Google+ includes some functionality in the form of a social network, it is important to not view Google+ as a social networking platform but rather as the next logical step in how we experience the web through Google. Vic Gundotra, Google’s head of Google+, has been trying to convey this point since Google+’s inception:

“This is just the next version of Google,” Mr. Gundotra said, noting that he sees Google Plus as a social blanket that envelopes the entire Google experience. “Everything is being upgraded. We already have users. We’re now upgrading them to what we consider Google 2.0.”

When judging the value of utilizing Google+, it is important that it is not dismissed just because Facebook is the social networking juggernaut. One of Google+’s products is a social networking tool, but all the products you’ve come to rely on Google for are also Google+ products. For example, search results now include how many people +1 (Google’s equivalent of a “like”) a page, maps listings now include scoring of a business based on reviews, and the way content is delivered has been expanded to include serving up content relevant to a person’s interests, through Google Spark, rather than just in response to a search query. The metrics by which Google’s algorithm grades content is now more heavily influenced by a social component.

SmartLink has the experience, tools, and expertise necessary to leverage Google+ to help your business expand its online presence. We’re able to develop and execute effective strategies that take a holistic approach to marketing your business online rather than compartmentalizing key components like search rankings, business listings, social media presence and paid advertising. By including all aspects of an online marketing strategy into one holistic approach, we have been successful in creating lasting and meaningful growth in an increasingly competitive digital space. Our advice to clients is to take notice of Google’s new direction and apply the concept of integrated channels to your company’s digital marketing strategy. Indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.