Based on the most recent Nielsen data, Google+ continues to slowly increase its reach, hitting 9% of the online Australian population in June as it approaches its one year anniversary.

And while it is still far from the success Google may have hoped for – time on site, sessions per month and pageviews per session all remain weak in social network terms – it has been adopted by more than half of the world’s largest brands (61% of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands have an account according to Simply Measured).

Director of strategy at SiteVisibility, Kelvin Newman, writes on social media marketing blog The Wall, “There is no question that it is a viable service, and one which I fully expect to continue to rise in popularity with marketers – especially if you’re interested in performing better in the natural search results”.

Under the opinion that marketers ignoring the service are missing opportunities to connect with social consumers and improve search rankings, Newman offers a number of strategies for marketers looking to capitalise on Google+.

One of the main reasons many companies are investing time and effort into Google+, Newman writes, is the expectation that it is already having an influence or will, in the future, on natural search results. He believes building an audience on Google+ may be the “smartest thing you do as a content marketer when it comes to improved search rankings” and advises brands to understand the language of their audience and reflect it back in their content.

“Even if these signals are perhaps not directly influencing results at the moment, there’s already a strong precedent of social signals indirectly influencing your natural search through personalisation based upon your social connections,” Newman writes.

Google has architecture, in the form of Search plus Your World, already installed into its algorithm which allows SEO optimisation by incorporating social influence on Google+ into search results. To capitalise on Google+’s integration, Newman advises concentrating on generating ‘real’, high-quality likes rather than simply gaining as many likes as possible.

“Avoid the temptation to go out and buy social signals or votes,” he writes. “It’s unlikely to have any impact in the short-term and in the future you’ll regret it. Large brands have already tried to actively reduce the number of people who have liked them on Facebook, as those they purchased in the past are now making their social engagement look weak.”

Understanding the pages and content which are being shared on social networks, using tools like Social Crawlytics, in order to create more of the same reporting on the number and quality of social shares, and demonstrating the technique’s success through reporting are other strategies that Newman offers for making the most of the Google+ opportunity.