Google+ hasn’t always been a highly sought after social networking site for marketers, but that scene is rapidly changing. More marketers are discovering the undeniable benefits to using this platform, one that has been built entirely for the professional world yet in a relevant way that includes trending topics, hashtags and popular news.

Even though Google+ is one of the newer contenders in the social media world, a recent report from GlobalWebIndex showed that the number of users on the site is up to 360 million, making it the second largest social networking site after Facebook. Now why aren’t you on Google+ again?

As you begin rolling out changes for the New Year, make sure you leave ample time to create or further your profile on Google+. Here’s why it’s important.

Constant Indexing and SEO

Hashtags are no stranger to Twitter and Facebook, but Google+ has an added advantage when using hashtags: it has the power of the largest search engine behind it. With no privacy settings like Facebook has, Google is able to instantly index Google+ material, which keeps pages fresh and relevant. When using hashtags, marketers further their reach since related material shows up in a list, increasing website traffic and link clicks.

The Ability to Claim Authorship

Authorship is already making its mark on separating the good content from the great, and it will continue to play a big role in future content marketing strategies. Authorship allows writers to link their content to their Google+ profile, and this puts a real person behind the content, establishing credibility and boosting placement in the search rankings. In addition, readers can find other content from the same writer, increasing traffic and reach.

Targeted Marketing with Google+ Circles

The Google Circles feature may take a little getting used to, but it’s actually a great tool for dividing your contacts into various groups, or circles in this case. Instead of sharing content with everyone and running the risk that you get heard by no one, marketers can use Circles to target various groups of people based on their location, interest or age. Messages can also be tailored to fit each group, helping with engagement and customer rapport.

A Business-Focused Platform

Facebook and Twitter are great if you want to look at selfies and read celebrity tweets, but it seems like there’s little place for a small business trying to emerge from the shadows. That’s where Google+ works wonders. It’s an exceptional platform for businesses since it allows for connections and collaborations to be made within the professional community. With new features like Hangouts, you can also host webinars and panel discussions, further branding your product or service.