Google+If you’re like most of the Internet, you’ve delayed an investment in Google+. (Who’s guilty?) Like it or not, it’s time to make a move. Read on for five reasons you should be active on G+, as well as a few helpful tips to get started.

Google+ is unique to other social networks in that it acts as a social layer across many of Google’s own properties. While Facebook and Twitter are more familiar platforms for reaching your readers, both restrict Google from accessing their data, which limits SEO effectiveness.

According to Google,  nearly 500 million active monthly users upload billions of photos and links to the platform each week. If you aren’t one of them, here are a few reasons you should consider incorporating Google+ into your social media repertoire:

  1. SEO: Google Search gives posts on Google+ preferential search ranking treatment.
  2. Free resources: Hangouts are effective ways to meet or collaborate virtually (with up to 10 people). They can even be broadcast in real-time and saved to your YouTube channel
  3. Credibility: In a process known as Authorship, Google weights your content higher in its search engine, which gives you more credibility.
  4. Forecasting: Google is completely dedicated to Google+, which means the tech giant will continue to add features and place more emphasis on the network over time.
  5. Customization: G+ allows a greater level of flexibility, dialed-up privacy and targeted sharing.

So, wondering how to get started? Begin by “+1’ing” your own content (which is essentially “liking”), engage with posts from others, and organize your contacts into communities. Visit the “What’s Hot” section for suggestions on Communities that may interest you – as well as introduce you to a new set of readers. Spend time getting familiar with the platform and soon it will become second nature.