6 Steps to a Smart (Sane) Google+ Strategy
Another social network? What’s a brand to do!
There’s no denying it – Google+ is going to be an important part of social media and search from now on. Its enormous growth in the past seven months has gotten the attention of the search industry, competing social networks and marketers alike. Google+ has more than 90 million users – nearly as much as LinkedIn, but not even close to Facebook’s 800 million.
Even though the Google+ numbers pale in comparison to Facebook (for now), its “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW) integration in Google search results opens up Google+ content to the billions of worldwide Google users.
With the introduction of SPYW, Google+ social content is becoming part of Google search engine results. If you’re logged into Google while doing a search, you’ll see Google+ pages from related users and brands. You’ll see pages that people in your circles have given a “+1” and you’ll also see images under individual search results of users who have shared that particular page. In addition, sites that have been “+1’ed” are pushed higher in search engine results.
Even if you aren’t logged into Google while doing a search, your search results are still being affected by Google+. A search for the term “SEO” displays two user profiles related to the term:
Imagine your brand or personal profile getting this kind of exposure in regular search results! Clearly, Google+ deserves more of your time.
With the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – how does your company find time to embrace Google+? With so many social networks on your plate, adding another can seem like a major challenge.
Here are six steps that you can use to embrace Google+ and get all of its benefits without losing your mind.
1. Claim Your Page and Manage Your Circles
If you don’t have a Google+ brand page, it’s time to get started. You can create a Google+ business page from a personal Google+ account, which in turn requires a Gmail account.
If you’re a larger organization, you’ll need to decide which person in your company will create and manage the page. (This is one feature that has sparked some criticism of Google – if that employee or manager leaves, what becomes of the company’s Google+ page?)
There are dozens of guides out there that detail how to circle other users and optimize your profile. I’m not going to delve into that here, but keep in mind these two points:
- You can promote your Google+ business page on your personal profile in order to encourage more users to migrate to your business page.
- You can also circle users via your business profile in order to get them to circle you back.
Focus on developing circles for specific purposes. You’ll get a lot more leverage from your sharing if it is targeted to user groups.
For instance, you can create circles for current customers and prospects, and then additional circles for competitors so you can see what they are up to on the social network.
2. Focus on Becoming a Topic Expert
With its strong SEO capabilities, it’s possible to make a big splash in your niche industry with Google+. Since the platform is relatively new, there’s still ample time to stake your claim as a top provider of small business financial advice, cloud-based communications apps, or gourmet chocolate gift baskets.
Optimize your business profile for your niche keyword terms and then make a habit of sharing related news. Pretty soon, your company will be well known for your topic specialty.
Remember to select a topic that is related to your product and/or service and supports what your ideal customers are interested in. Users are more likely to take interest in “Tips for Great Road Trips” then “Come See How Awesome Our Tires Are.”
3. Share Content Regularly
There’s nothing worse than sharing content on social media and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. No matter what your marketing schedule looks like, pick a frequency and commit to it for at least 8 weeks.
After that time, you can look back at your results and decide whether less or more sharing would be best for you.
As well as sharing your own posts and content from other sources, you can also make use of Google+’s longer post length. You can post entire articles on the platform rather than having to direct users to a different location.
In addition to sharing regularly, be sure to participate in the community. The same rules for Twitter and Facebook apply here – respond to comments, comment on other shared content, and engage with your audience.
4. Use Photos More Often
Google+ is a beautiful platform for photos and they really stand out in the stream. Unlike Facebook, where users can upload photos in albums, Google+ images are loaded as individual posts. This feature gives your photos much more prominence.
Make it a point to use photos as part of your regular updates. You can add images from your company, charts and slides from presentations, infographics, and more to enhance your presence on the platform.
5. Share Your Posts Directly With Your Circles
With just an extra step you can “push” special posts and updates directly to your circle members. While you shouldn’t use this feature all of the time, it’s helpful for promoting your most important blog posts or company announcements.
When you post an update, you can hover over the name of a circle with your mouse. A box will pop up listing a few of the members of the circle and asking if you want to notify the users of the post.
Your circle members will then get an email about the post (if they’ve opted to receive notifications from Google+).
It’s a good way to highlight important content and make sure it’s being read by your relevant audience – just don’t abuse this feature and alienate your target readers.
6. Analyze Your Results and Plan Accordingly
Like other forms of marketing, analysis and planning are going to be the key to success with Google+.
However, with Google+ the process is a little different.
Unfortunately, due to Google’s encryption, it’s impossible to analyze the visits you’re receiving from the Google+ platform in any meaningful way.
So, the best way to monitor your Google+ results is to take note of how many responses you’re getting, which topics are being reshared and whether or not your profile (or business profile) is showing up in the search engines.
Once you’ve gathered your results, look at how you can improve your performance:
- Do you need to actively circle more users?
- Do you find that your photo updates are getting more comments and shares than other updates?
- How are you doing in the search engine rankings: Do you need to optimize your profile and updates to include important niche related keywords?
With these steps, you can make sense of Google+ and leverage it for your business. I’d love to hear how you’ve adopted Google+ and how it’s working. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
For further reading:
- SEOmoz: Why Every Marketer Now Needs a Google+ Strategy
- iMedia Connection: 6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea
- Marketing Land: Seeing Long-Form Post Success On Google+, Facebook Raises Character Limit By 1100%
- SEO Copywriting: Google Circles and the future of SEO Copywriting
About the Author – Courtney Ramirez
Courtney Ramirez is a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program, and CEO of Six Degrees Content. She is passionate about helping small businesses compete with the big boys with skilled SEO copywriting and content marketing. You can connect with Courtney at her brand’s LinkedIn, and on Twitter @CourtneyRamirez.
photo thanks to Bruce Clay, Inc.
Google+ isn’t just another social network. It’s part of the overall Google search experience. Since Google+ data is integrated into the search algorithm, businesses should make an effort to be active and involved.
Thanks for the comment Nick! You’re right – the massive potential for search engine rankings make G+ an essential tool for businesses of all sizes.
Posting images is one good way to get your content shared virally.
Video and images lays every important part in any social media platform.
I’m not yet sure what to think of the trend towards photos as the primary part of the post, Courtney. Sometimes it fits. Sometimes it’s just a rue for laziness … seems to me. A photo does not always make a post.
I agree that photos can be overused sometimes – but in my mind they are more like flags for stopping and looking than actual helpful content. For better or worse I think they are here to stay.
Great post! I think that I am in the same situation as many other small businesses as I am trying to figure out the best way to use Google Plus for my business.
Thanks Nolan! A lot of businesses are in the same boat. I’ve been sharing regular curated stories on my business page and being more active on my personal page. In addition, I’ve linked my G+ updates with my Facebook page through a tool called Friends + Me (which is free). That has really helped me stay more active on G+.
Very informative for a start-up. We signed our business just recently to Google+ and will try following your guidelines. Great post!
Thanks for the comment Jilbert! I hope you get a lot out of G+ and let us know how it goes.