Now that the world is waist deep in the digital age, business owners vying for increased business exposure are no longer forced to dig deeper into their pockets to gain more public visibility. With the ever-growing popularity of social media, entrepreneurs now need to look no further than their smart phones to gain a large public following and develop new leads for little to no cost. In fact, business owners who have not yet jumped onto the social media bandwagon are now in the minority. New research from LinkedIn shows roughly 81% of small and medium sized businesses are now using social media to produce growth (, a figure that is more than likely set to increase as America wades further into 21st century.

So, now with just about everybody on board with social media, what can a business owner do to ensure they stand out from the crowd? The obvious answer is to join hands with the largest online, internet conglomerate in the USA: Google.

It may come as a surprise to some that Google Plus, launched by Google in 2011, is now second to Facebook as the most popular social media site, already boasting an exorbitant 359 million active users a mere two years after its launch, by May 2013 ( Yet, in spite of the numbers some business owners still remain on the fence over whether they should invest the additional time required to manage another social media outlet. After all, time is money – and where social media earns points in cost effectiveness it makes up in time consumption. Many business owners are left wondering, isn’t Facebook and Twitter enough?

The short answer is no, and here’s why: Google is the search engine of choice and the go-to for the majority of consumers searching online business listings, and all the evidence shows that Google prioritizes its own factors over other social media sites when producing search results, stealthily moving businesses with higher plus ones on their Google Plus pages to the top of the totem pole (  And if that isn’t reason enough, Google also indexes and ranks the content businesses post on their Google Plus pages, creating additional opportunities for business exposure even when the business’s direct website doesn’t make the cut in search results.

Another invaluable feature Google Plus offers businesses is the option for customers to leave online reviews to which businesses are able to respond. Savvy business owners recognize this as a chance to outshine competitors by encouraging satisfied customers to leave good reviews, and to publicly acknowledge and resolve negative reviews as they crop up. It goes without saying that a business with the best reviews will most often be the business of choice for consumers searching through online business listings. Furthermore, businesses with the most reviews often show higher in Google search results, ensuring even more exposure with each review acquired.

Yet, perhaps the best feature of Google Plus is how it seamlessly interacts among other popular social platforms. After all, Google Plus integrates with other social platforms in ways Facebook and Twitter could only dream of, a feat made easy by the fact that Google owns such popular outlets as YouTube and Gmail. As the proud owner of YouTube and Gmail, two of the most popular web platforms online, Google has the upper hand in social integration, opening the door for hundreds of millions online users to connect through a variety of different activities. And to add icing to the cake, brick and mortar businesses will be over-joyed to hear that their Google Plus business listings automatically incorporate with Google Maps, allowing business profiles and reviews to automatically show in local search results, complete with driving directions that literally guide customers directly to the front door.

To reap the most benefits from Google Plus, business owners are encouraged to add photos, join in discussions, and post often. By staying active in the Google Plus community and adding plus ones to the photos and posts of others, business owners will more often than not be reciprocated, gathering plus ones as quickly as they dole them out, and the more plus ones a business obtains, the higher the boost they’ll gain in Google search queries.

Overall, maintaining an active Google Plus business profile offers entrepreneurs the ability to streamline a variety of social platforms through one interface, while garnering the public exposure they crave. Simply having a profile ensures a business listing in Google search results, while active contributions and community participation offer free search engine optimization, bringing those business listings to the top of the search results. There’s no doubt about it, having a Google Plus profile can benefit any business owner seeking business growth.