This is a very wonderful guest post by the fabulous Zoey from Shake Media. Today Zoey gives us the rundown on Google Plus. What has Google Plus got to do with driving traffic to your website? Well as Zoey correctly points out, it is the only social media network owned by the largest search engine in the world! So it makes sense that getting busy on Google Plus will help you rank better in Google searches.
Let’s do this …
‘You know who loves Google Plus? Google! No one loves Google Plus more than Google’ – Lynette Young
If Facebook is where the readers are and Twitter is where the bloggers are, then who is on Google Plus? I get it. People have social media network exhaustion. They can barely keep up with facebook and twitter and have sacrificed more time than they will ever own up to on Pinterest. Still, I would discount the only social media network owned by the largest search engine in the world at your peril. If you are at all interested in how your content gets ranked by Google, then Google Plus is kind of a big deal. It is still in its infancy yet in a year it is already at 90 million active users. At the moment about 70% of them are men, but I think that number will shift back towards the middle over time. In the space of a year, users who have been very active are now in about 1.5 million circles.
What Does Well on Google Plus?
Photography is huge on Google Plus. There is a diverse, vibrant photography community out there and the photography plays to the strengths of Google Plus as a highly visual medium. Geek is also huge. The seed group for the start of Google Plus was Google employees, so it makes sense that the geek and tech side of things would still have a large presence. Kittens. Let’s face it kittens are big everywhere. But mostly Google Plus is about connecting with what you are interested in. You can search for whatever your interest is and find like minded people. You can connect with artists and authors and entrepreneurs and have a much more intimate conversation with them than you could on twitter or on facebook.
What Doesn’t Do Well on Google Plus?
The hit and run. If you login, post some links and log out again, you will see very limited value from Google Plus. You have to go and find people. And really if you are posting links you are under-utilising the interface. You are much better off posting an image and a link rather than using the little photo that Google Plus pulls from the page. Photos increase engagement on Google Plus twentyfold. That’s something that you want to take advantage of.
You don’t friend people – you add them to circles. Often if you add someone to a circle, they will add you back, but it is not reliant upon a reciprocal relationship. You can put a person in all of your circles, or just one of them. You can then set your posts to go public or to specific circles. So if you aren’t in anyone’s circles, but they are in yours then you will receive their public updates. No one can see the title of your circles except you. You +1 instead of like, but the post won’t show up in your feed like it does on facebook unless you specifically share the post. You can tag people and pages by using the + before their name. Like twitter, google plus is searchable and hashtags are used to improve this search function. And unlike Facebook you can control what you see from who. If you are viewing the posts from a circle, there will be a slider on the top right hand side which allows you to control if you want to see every single post, most of them or even none of them. Similar to Facebook, Google Plus has chat functionality and the ability to create events. But it also has hangouts where you can set up video chats with anyone you like.
How to Take Advantage of Google Plus
Link your site to Google Plus If people follow you on Google Plus, anything you share is going to rank highly in their search results. So you want people to follow you! You can provide a badge on your site that allows people to add you to their circles without leaving your page. Including the badge will also allow you to be included with direct connect when it becomes available. Direct connect will mean that people can type +your profile directly into the google search:
At first you might be thinking that this is not a good thing – after all they are going to your google+ page and not your website, but the benefit is that they will be not even going to search results – search will be bypassed and they will go straight to your page. You can also sign up for direct connect with a simple piece of code that no one can see without the need for a badge to be displayed. Add the +1 button Add the button to your home page and all of your individual posts as well. It is not clear at this point how the +1s will be included in Google’s search algorithm but it’s highly likely that they will be. And regardless of whether you are logged into google or not, search results will show the number of +1s each article has. Claim authorship This is a great way of giving your posts more visibility in google search results. You can claim authorship and your picture and a link to your google plus profile will show up. It also allows people to add you to their circles direct from the search results.
Think Digital Publishing not Link Sharing Try not to think of Google+ as a way for people to click through to your site. Try to think of it as digital publishing. Your focus should be on helping to people finding your content, not controlling how they consume that content. Hashtag everything. Your profile is fully searchable so be as verbose as possible. And as much as possible set your posts to public. If they are not public then you are not benefiting from being searchable. Profiles vs Pages The issue with Pages as it currently stands is that you can only add other pages to your circles, or individual profiles that have already added you to their circles. So unless you are looking at a community of other brand pages or blog pages you are going to struggle to build your community. There is also no ability to login as your page in the phone app, which is also restrictive. I would suggest that you create a page for your brand, business or blog, but use your personal profile for the vast majority of your sharing and connecting. At least until they improve the functionality for pages.
Cool Things For Google Plus
They are releasing vanity URLs but they aren’t there yet. Until then you can create your own vanity URL using this handy app. Shared Circles. You can create circles and share them so people can follow the whole circle at once. A circle might have 40 people in it or it might have 500. Generally shared circles are based on interests – there are circles for photographers, bloggers, lego, Australians – you name it! Here is a shared google doc that has a list of all the shared circles available.
It Should Be Fun
Google Plus is far less personal than twitter or facebook. The vast majority of people that you interact with are not your friends or people you know. As a result the conversations tend to be more focused and as a network it has less noise. The community is there, you just have to find them. But if it’s not fun for you, no amount of SEO is going to make it worthwhile.