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It’s a clunky, stylistically rudderless social media platform that’s tiny compared to Facebook. You don’t know anyone who uses it. It’s Google+ and it’s critical your Seattle-area small business create a page–here’s why.

  1. Google+ is Emerging as a Viable Alternative to Yelp. Since becoming the Microsoft Zune of social networks, rumors about Google’s plan for Google+ have circulated. Google+ can’t compete with Facebook as a standard social network, so Google appears to be putting greater focus on the Google+ business-ratings system. This is a rational pivot for Google+, because Google can harness its power as the world’s most popular search engine to muscle out Yelp, which is a much easier and weaker target than Facebook. Yelp is much more dependent on Google searches for traffic than Facebook is, so it makes sense that Google would target Yelp next.
  2. Google Favors Google+ In Searches. Earlier this year an FCC Report was leaked that determined in 2013 Google was illegally taking advantage of its monopoly on internet search to favor Google-owned sites. The FCC decided not to move forward with the case because it believed it would be difficult to prove in court and Google agreed to make ‘voluntary’ changes to its system. Google appears to be at it again with favoring Google+ business rankings.
  3. It’s Better Than Yelp.  Yelp’s official position is that businesses aren’t supposed to ask for reviews. Ostensibly this is to preserve the organic, unbiased nature of its review system.  Google, on the other hand, encourages businesses to ask for reviews, perhaps in an attempt to build the popularity of Google+.  This gives you the green-light to cherry-pick who reviews your business. Yelp has also been accused of pressuring small businesses to cough up money in some kind of Mafioso-esque extortion scheme where hazy promises to ‘improve Yelp reviews’ are made in exchange for cash. Google+ has not moved into the racketeering business yet as far as we know, though the day is young.
  4. Nobody Is Using It. Compared with Facebook, Google+ is a ghost town. This gives Google+ business reviewers a grossly disproportionate amount of power over business ratings. This is underscored by the fact that the Google+ business ratings system is still in its infancy, so businesses are unlikely to have a large number of ratings. Let’s analyze what’s required for a Google+ review to occur then you decide what tiny percentage of the population this is.
  • Must have a Google+ account
  • Must use their Google+ account
  • Must take the time to actually review a business they patronized on Google+
  1. Everyone Is Using It.  It might have few standard users, but businesses are rapidly adopting it. Tech-savvy Seattle is certainly no exception. Once a certain number of Google+ business pages with a number of reviews are established in a relatively small geographic location, it appears that Google begins using the Google+ business rankings in its search pages. Seattle has reached the saturation level for Google+ business pages for many type of goods and services, so it is frequently being returned on searches in the greater Seattle area.

Microsoft killed the Zune in 2012 after it failed to take off against the iPod. Google, on the other hand, appears determined to push the Google+ via its business-rankings system. Google+ was unable to take down Facebook, so it’s settling for Yelp.