Google+ is apt to be written off as a social media ghost town by blogging lawyers. Who could blame them looking at the numbers alone.

From New York Times technology reporter, Claire Cain Miller (@clairecm), in a piece on Google+ last Friday.

Plus has 29 million unique monthly users on its website and 41 million on smartphones, with some users overlapping, compared with Facebook’s 128 million users on its website and 108 million on phones, according to Nielsen.

For many blogging lawyers LinkedIn, more than Facebook, is looked at is a medium for engagement and distribution. Let alone Twitter.

But Google+ remains important for at least four reasons. Search/SEO, User Profile, Google Authorship (AuthorRank), and sharing to grow influence and relationships.

Search/SEO

Google+ plays a big role in SEO and search. It will help you and your posts get seen.

I am not necessarily referring to ranking for items such as “Chicago Employment Lawyer.” I am referring to long tail searches where consumers of legal services, whether looking for a lawyer now or not, are searching on particular issues.

Take “Does FMLA apply to employers with 41 employees?” If you have blogged on FMLA applying to small businesses you want your post to rank in search for that Google user.

The more know Google knows about you the better the match they can make on a search. How influential are you on the niche subject being searched on? Is your content liked and shared by people trusted by the person doing the search?

Without you using Google+ so that Google knows about you and those in your social circle, the less effective the search experience for a Google user doing research on areas you’ve blogged about.

Bradley Horowitz (@elatable), vice president of product management for Google Plus, explained to Miller:

It’s about you showing up at Google and having a consistent experience across products so they feel like one product, and that makes your experiences with every Google product better.

Miller goes on to report:

Thanks to Plus, Google knows about people’s friendships on Gmail, the places they go on maps and how they spend their time on the more than two million websites in Google’s ad network. And it is gathering this information even though relatively few people use Plus as their social network.

Larger companies see Google+ as invaluable for search.

Starbucks, for instance, has three million followers on Plus, meager compared with its 36 million “likes” on Facebook. Yet it updates its Google Plus page for the sake of good search placement, and takes advice from Google representatives on how to optimize Plus content for the search engine.

“When we think about posting on Google Plus, we think about how does it relate to our search efforts,” said Alex Wheeler, vice president of global digital marketing at Starbucks.

The Economist has more fans on Google Plus than on Facebook — six million versus three million — and its journalists use Plus features like Hangouts. Yet Chandra Magee, The Economist’s senior director of audience development, emphasized the value of Plus as a search engine optimization tool.

“There is potential there to help us get in front of new audiences,” she said. “But it also helps with our S.E.O. strategy because our posts on Google Plus actually show up in our search engine results.”

User Profile

A  Google+ User Profile will display on a search of your name and is visible across any Google properties. Your profile will include business and personal info, your social networks, and a listing of where you have contributed content, including your blog. See my earlier post on how easy it is to create a profile.

A link to your user profile and your picture will begin to display next to your blog titles displayed on Google’s search results pages. Search results with pictures of the author, especially pictures that users recognize, get clicked on dramatically more often.

I have also started to see my profile displayed in a large box to the right of the search results when someone searches for my name.

Google Authorship (AuthorRank)

Google+’s Google Authorship feature goes hand in hand with setting up your user profile. Once you create your Google+ account and profile you may connect what you publish on your blog to your Google+ profile.

The concept of linking content and peoples’ reaction to your contact (sharing) is perfect for a lawyer. Growing your influence as a niche online publisher enhances your reputation as a trusted and reliable authority. Google Authorship grows your influence, stature, and, it turns out, search performance for your content.

Content strategist, Monica Jade Romeri (@MJRomeriDDC), in a popular piece entitled SEO Has Gone Social, advises embracing Google+ and AuthorRank.

Google AuthorRank has shaken up inbound marketing and SEO in a big way. Due to AuthorRank, the social media influence and reach of content creators has a major impact on their search rankings. If you are serious about SEO and online marketing, setting up Google Authorship is a must.

Create an ample Google+ profile—featuring your main content topics in your introduction. Get engaged, participate on the social network frequently, share great content often, and establish online relationships with top industry thought leaders to foster your influence and credibility on Google+.

Sharing

Different people engage in different social networks. You are apt to connect with people in Google+ you’d not engage elsewhere.

It’s easy to engage folks in Google+. Share some of the content by third parties that you like. Share some of your blog posts adding a thought provoking headline.

Google+ will automatically archive your photos from your iPhone or Android phone. They’ll not display in Google+ until you share them. Pictures of people and places capture people’s emotions and lead to meaningful connections.

Plus sharing will only build out your presence on Google+ and help Google build out your influence and search performance.

Influence is the bottom line

Influence in your field is key for a lawyer. Whether a lawyer is influential in the years ahead will be measured by machines. What is written? How often is it shared? How often is it cited? How influential are the people doing the citing and sharing? Are the people doing the citing and sharing people I trust and respect?

Only when you create your Google+ profile and connect your blog posts to you can your influence be measured. And that influence is going to dictate what is being displayed on search and being discovered in other contexts. Your influence is also going to effect your reputation and the relations you build.

Fifteen years ago you had never heard of Google. Search would have seemed a foreign concept. Social influence and search may seem foreign today, but it will not for long.

Start using Google+, even if on a limited basis. You’ll be glad you did.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Fabrizio Van Marciano

  • The fact that 1/3 as many people are using G+ as Facebook (going off the numbers provided in the article) means that it’s easier for an attorney to stake out their place on G+. This, for the time being, makes establishing authority much more easy. Good article Kevin.

  • econwriter5

    I confess I am actually pleased people still think of G+ as a “ghost town.” I get a fair amount of information from G+, so I know more than they do, and I like that.

    On the other hand, it’s good to see more people catching on to the benefits of G+. Communities are still its hidden gem.

    • I find the communities to be one of the best sources of the good information you mentioned.

      • econwriter5

        I love G+ Communities. I totally agree on them being one of the best sources of good information. I always learn something new, and people are really good at providing detailed answers or sending me to places for more info. Easier to follow and engage than Twitter, esp for more niche topics like neuropsychology.

    • Congrats on the move (I think), Gwynne. Still up for doing a guest post on G+ Communities? You do and I post giving you the authorship. It would be a gift so I can learn about the power of communities and so can the lawyers and legal professionals following me.

      • econwriter5

        Thanks! Turning out to be a very good fit. I am still up for a guest post on G+ Communities. Think @PrestonClark also asked.

  • David Bjornson

    Thanks for the information. It really convinced me to use GooglePlus from now on.