Google doesn’t care if you sign up for Google+ and never come back – just as long as you’re signing up. This is the conclusion that Josh Constine of TechCrunch came to after a recent ComScore study showed that users are spending about three minutes per month on Google+, compared to 405 minutes on Facebook.

Constine says that Google built Google+ to get users’ biographical data, something they are unable to do with Facebook users because of Facebook’s privacy policy. Google takes the biographical data from Google+ user profiles, Gmail activity and search history, and the search giant uses that info to provide better targeted search results and ads. They call it “Search Plus Your World.”

So, the question for business owners becomes, how does this affect me? With no one spending any time on Google+, should you care about having a Google+ business page? It doesn’t make any sense, right?

Logically, it doesn’t. It’s like building a storage facility in the middle of the desert. But you should build a page and maintain it for the same reason Google wants users to sign up for Google+: Search.

Search Plus Your World has changed the way that Google provides search results. They’re personalized to you. At the top of the screen under the search bar, any people in your circles who have info in their profile that relates to your search term will show up. Another new grouping of social results, labeled “People and Pages on Google+ related to (Search Term),” will show up in the top right side of some searches. This isn’t the case for all results. The personalized results only show up if you are logged into Gmail or Google+. Even when not signed in, social results still show up.

For example, here are my results for “Basketball” when I am logged in to Gmail.

search for basketball when logged into Google+

Here are the results for “Basketball” when I am not logged in.

search results when logged out

When you use any sort of specificity in your search, such as search “Kansas Basketball” instead of just “Basketball,” the personal and social results no longer show up.

specify and you lose personal and social search results

“Self storage” is one of the terms that does not include personal or social results, and why would it? There is not much of a social aspect to self storage and there are not celebrities attached to the term like there are for basketball.

Here are the results I receive for “Los Angeles Self Storage.”

My search for Los Angeles Self Storage

So what’s the point in having a Google+ page for your self storage business if the search terms that you’re battling for don’t show up in Search Plus Your World? For one thing, the more places you’re found, the better. And slowly, I believe, Google will begin to give more credence to someone listed on Google+. Think about what Google has done with maps. Google no longer lists or pulls data from map listings or reviews other than its own. What’s to keep them from doing something similar in social media?

Facebook and Twitter can see it coming already. Both have complained that that the social results (results on the top-right side) that Google provides are not fair to users, because these are not really the top social results. Engineers from Facebook, Twitter and several other social companies built a tool (Focusontheuser.org) that provides the actual top results in that space. It takes the top social results that come up organically and place them there.

Here are the results for “Basketball” using the Focus on the User tool.

basketball results with Focus on the User tool

So the argument is that even Google, in its organic results, is giving more credence to Facebook or Twitter results than Google+. This is one reason why you should not abandon your presence on Facebook and Twitter; Google still recognizes personal and business profiles on both.

As for giving more power to Google+ in search, that’s already happening with +1s. We got close to 100 +1s for the StorageFront homepage, and during the two weeks the +1s occurred, StorageFront’s ranking for the search term “Self Storage Units” jumped up two spots on Google.

Even if you don’t get that many +1s, it is still beneficial to make a Google+ business listing. Google is king when it comes to search. You should do everything in your power to please them.

Building a Google+ business listing is simple and it’s going to help you show up higher in search — maybe not yet, but certainly down the road.

photo credit: Wickerfurniture via photopin cc