For a lot of Internet users, Google+ is a mystery, that online phenomenon that still doesn’t make much sense. When you already have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, why would you want to be on another network? What’s the point? Why use it? What can it do for you?

To answer those and other big questions that often come up about Google+, here are our top five FAQs and what you need to know!

Q: How Can I Use Google+ to Build a Brand?

A: Identify Authorship by Linking Your Name to Your Google+ Profile.

Have you noticed that sometimes when you search for content online, an author’s photo will come up next to his or her articles in search results? That’s because of Google+, and you can do this too by setting up authorship on your site and on other sites where you write. To put this strategy to work for your or your clients? brands, simply link the author’s nameon your site and others?with your Google+ profile, adding ?rel=author? to the URL (more info in this Yoast article). Then, over time, as Web users repeatedly see your photo next to your name when searching, they’ll start to identify you with your brand and this strengthens your influence.

Q: How Can I Use Google+ to Boost SEO?

A: Share Links.

Here’s the thing: Google+ is so integrated with Google the Search Engine that all you have to do is share a link on Google+ and boom: it automatically gets indexed and crawled. What this means for your website is that there’s a way to speed up the amount of time it takes for Google to notice your new content. Whereas before it was only the highly established, super popular sites that got immediate attention, now even a small website can just post the URL on its Google+ profile and see results.

Q: Why Do Google+ Connections Matter?

A: Two Words: Personalized Searches.

Beyond the value of basic networking, there are other rewards to Google+ connections. Google likes to show users relevant content?so when someone is logged into Google and goes searching for something online, Google will personalize their results by showing information from their connections. What this means for you is the wider your circle of Google+ connections, the more chances you have for your content to be featured. Because more and more people are logged into Google while searching online (think of how many people use Gmail to stay logged in while surfing!), having lots of connections means greater exposure for your site.

Q: What’s the Value of Circles?

A: More Control over What You Share.

This is one of the biggest differences between Facebook and Google+: with circles, you can control what information is being shared where. Think of circles as a way to categorize the users you’re following. Maybe you want to post pictures of your personal life your recent wedding, your baby?s first steps, etc.that you don’t want to bother fellow marketing colleagues with. Create one circle for personal and another for marketing. Individuals who overlap categories can be on more than one list, and you’re better able to control what you’re sharing with whom.

Q: How Can Google+ Support Team Collaboration?

A: Various Features Catered to Teamwork.

Google+ makes it incredibly easy for marketers to collaborate by providing a variety of team-focused tools free of charge. Beyond Google+ Circles, there are features like Google+ Chat (like chat rooms), Google+ Hangouts (video chatting for up to nine people at once) and easy integration with all other Google tools, from Picasa to YouTube to Gmail.

When you consider the power of Google, the Google+ network is one that’s too valuable to overlook. Take the steps outlined in this post and start using it to your advantage today!

Shanna Mallon is a writer for?Straight North, a B2B marketing agency that specializes in SEO, Web development and design, social media and other online marketing services. Follow the?Straight North Blog to learn more!