Despite the reputation Google+ has in some circles for being the social network that everyone has joined but no one uses, marketers are increasing viewing it as a vital platform for branding and engagement.
After all, Google+ is now the second-largest social network; it’s more business-oriented (and less about sharing pictures of friends and grandkids) than Facebook, and more flexible than Twitter; it’s important for SEO (though not in the way you may think–see below); and it’s connected to everything else Google (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, News, etc.), making it a critical component in an overall web visibility strategy.
As further evidence of the network’s increasing importance, as noted below, 60% of Google+ users log in every day (compared to 50% on Twitter); sites linked on Google+ tend to be indexed in search quickly; Google+ is aiming to become the “social platform of the future,” for example, by using its technology to replace other services like Yammer, Skype, and EventBrite; and it may well become the dominant source of business ratings (not good news for sites like Yelp and Epinions).
So what are the best practices for posting and sharing content on Google+? Building an audience and networking? Using Hangouts? What are the secrets to making your posts stand out? What are the best tools for analyzing Google+ activity and results? And how exactly does Google+ impact search results?
Find the answers to these questions and many others here in 18 Google+ marketing tips and guides from more than a dozen experts.
Effective Content Marketing on Google Plus: 5 Tools to Measure Success by Content Marketing Institute
Britt Klontz specifies nine key metrics “that really matter when it comes to understanding how effective your content marketing presence on G+ is,” then reviews five tools to help track those metrics, including All My + Statistics, which she says “may just be Google+ Nirvana for marketers who want to understand how their content, as well as that of their competitors, is being received on Google+.” And it’s free.
Noting that “In just over two years, Google Plus has become the second most widely used social network with approximately 350 million active users,” Ray Hiltz (who is to Google+ what Rebekah Radice is to Pinterest) states “2014 is the year to take the Google+ plunge if you haven’t already,” then delves into strategies for producing content, using new features in Hangouts, and networking on Google+.
Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Google Plus by ScottBuehler.com
***** 5 STARS
For those who are new to Google+ (or who struggle to see results with it), Scott Buehler provides an excellent 10-step guide to understanding circles, generating activity, formatting posts, using hashtags, hosting hangouts, creating company pages and more.
5 Big Reasons Why You Should Consider Google Plus Marketing by Jeffbullas’s Blog
Guest author Allison Rice contends that “Google+ is quickly becoming a significant player in the social media marketing world because it has one thing going for it that no other social site has: Google,” and backs that up with five specific reasons, including “the coveted right hand space…Google search is constantly updating with new information, and the most recent and relevant information posted in Google+ that’s related to your search is likely to appear in that right hand space. If you’re regularly posting on topics relevant to your industry and your Google+ site shows consistent updated content, then your Google+ page — and articles you’ve posted that are relevant to someone’s search — are much more likely to appear in that space.”
Frederic Lardinois reports on the details and impact of two announcements regarding Google+: the embed feature (“millions of people already produce lots of content on Google+. Until now, that content was locked up in the platform, however. The embed feature will…be available on public posts”) and authorship results through WordPress and TypePad connections (“the select number of sites that currently support this will automatically assign the right kind of markup to authors on their service, and Google will highlight their Google+ profiles on search results that include their posts”).
The Anatomy of a Perfect Google+ Post by dustn.tv
***** 5 STARS
Dustin W. Stout shares a number of unique and helpful tips here for making your Google+ posts stand out, such as using and asterisk before and after your post title to make it bold; writing a meaty summary (“This isn’t Twitter, so don’t worry about it being less than 140 characters. Google+ers like substance”); and using hashtags (three or less, directly relevant to the post).
7 Point Checklist to Dominate Your Personal Brand Using Google Plus by Rebekah Radice
Calling Google+ “a key component to your marketing strategy,” Rebekah Radice offers seven tips for optimizing results there, from making the most of your profile (“Do you know what search terms people are using when looking for your business? Google is eager to tell your story, but without your keywords you could create a situation where consumers have to hunt and peck to find you”) and creating great content to joining niche communities and paying attention to your ripples.
9 Tips for Getting Started on Google+ by NewRayCom
Ray Hiltz (again) lays out “the basics along with some tips to optimize your Google+ experience,” starting with identifying your goals (SEO, building brand authority, generating leads, etc.) and progressing through setting up your profile, engaging, organizing your circles, and using Hangouts.
Infographic: Google+ for Business by Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan shares an infographic stuffed with “all kinds of factoids and thoughts” about Google+ and its value for business, such as that 60% of Google+ users log in every day (compared to 50% on Twitter); sites linked on Google+ tend to be indexed quickly; and one key to success is approaching your Google+ presence as creating a magazine.
The 2013 Google+ Marketing Guide by KISSmetrics
***** 5 STARS
The insightful and prolific Kristi Hines presents “everything you need in order to have a successful Google+ experience,” from setting up your profile in an optimal fashion to building authorship authority (“You do this by linking your Google+ personal profile to the content you create throughout the web, from your own site to other blogs and online media outlets”) to planning your content strategy, building an audience, “hanging out,” analyzing results and more.
Google+: It’s Bigger On the Inside by SteamFeed
Like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, Google+ is “bigger on inside” according to Ray Hiltz (yet again), who details both the SEO benefits (“Search and influence is increasingly being affected by ‘authority.’ It’s the quality of friends and not the number that count. Just like in real life.”) and the social networking opportunities afforded by Google’s social platform.
4 Steps To Improve Your Google Plus Profile for Business by Small Business Trends
Timothy Carter outlines “four easy changes to your Google Plus profile” that will lead to “better local search engine rankings and…more action on your site.,” starting with the obvious (professional photo, strong tagline) and progressing through getting your visibility settings right, as “Google Plus more emphasis on protecting personal privacy than Facebook and some of the other social networking sites. The defaults are private and you have to manually set them as public.”
Steve Hart makes the case that Google+ will be the “social platform of the future,” for example, by using its technology to replace other services like Yammer, Skype, and EventBrite; by becoming the dominant source of business ratings (not good news for Yelp); and through Google Hangouts, which he says “may be the most powerful tool, yet.”
How to Use Google Plus Ripples to Build Momentum by New England Multimedia
Photographer Ed King shares his strategy for using Google Plus “Ripples” to recognize brand advocates, starting with what Ripples are (a little-known feature of Google’s social network) and how they work, and proceeding through a detailed yet easy to follow six-minute video tutorial.
3 Reasons to Dust Off Your Google Plus Business Page by SteamFeed
Writing that he’s “now paying serious attention to my Google Plus page and here’s 3 reasons why you should too,” Ray Hiltz (one more time) details developments that make Google+ a more attractive and productive platform for businesses, such as that “Google+ Pages are people too. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Brand Pages will have the ability to interact and engage with any Google+ user. This will open up more engagement opportunities and increase chances that users will add business pages to their Circles.”
Google+ and SEO
Matt Cutts: Google +1s Don’t Lead to Higher Ranking by Search Engine Watch
Jennifer Slegg reports that while it isn’t often “Matt Cutts comes right out to debunk a highly publicized blog post regarding something to do with ranking in Google,” the head of Google’s Webspam team did so in response to post on the SEOmoz blog which claimed that “Google +1s had a direct correlation with higher search rankings in Google – and that it was higher than any other ranking factor.” According to Matt, “If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking…+1s and rankings are not related.” Hmm. Maybe.
Direct Measurement of Google Plus Impact on Search Rankings by Stone Temple Consulting
Eric Enge details the results of an exhaustive study of the causation–not just correlation–of Google+ shares on search ranking. So does his research jibe with the statements from Matt Cutts reported above? Pretty much. After extensive study, Eric concludes that while Google + shares do drive discovery, and “probably” drive indexing as well, “We saw no evidence of Google+ shares driving ranking.”
Well…it turns out that while Google+ shares may not boost search rankings universally, a person’s (or brand’s) following on Google+ can certainly affect personalized search results. Rand Fishkin walks through several examples of how the search results one sees when logged in can differ dramatically from general results, even for short, high-volume, head-type search phrases like “data science,” “Patrick Stewart” and “happy Halloween,” based on which brands and individuals that person follows in Google+.