Google+ recently reached a staggering 25 million users, a feat that took Facebook and Twitter more than two years to accomplish.
As bloggers, we couldn’t help but think of how we can use it as a channel to promote our blog posts. We’ll discuss how to do just that in this post.
1. Content is King – Google+ Profile Setup
As with anything – unique, high quality content is king. Keep this in mind when setting up your Google+ profile page. Just like with any other social networking site (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) your profile is important so take special care of what you include. Invest the time to fill out your profile and make sure it portrays the image you want it to get across.
Pay attention to your introduction; write it so that people are willing to add you to their circles. Google+ also lets you add a picture to your description so use it. If you’ve written an e-book then put up a picture of the cover along with a synopsis and a link. Take a nice picture of yourself because once people add you to their circles, all they will see is that thumbnail of you in their stream. Google+ also lets you add links to other sites so take this opportunity to link to your blog, company website, Facebook, Twitter, and other worthy sites.
2. Profile Setup Part 2 – SEO those Google+ Links
Earlier I mentioned using the links on the right side of your profile to link to your blog and other external sites. Here I want to elaborate on how to properly set it up. Google adores anchor text and there is evidence in that Google+ allows you to “label” the links you place on your profile. Use this to your advantage. For example, if you have a blog that talks about “Coupon Clipping” or “Saving on Groceries” then you would set it up so that your label for your blog link would be either “Coupon Clipping” or “Saving on Groceries.” The reasoning behind here is that you are helping Google index you profile more accurately and your links could potential come up when someone searches “Coupon Clipping” or “Saving on Groceries.” Also do the same thing with your introduction. Link any keywords to your website if possible.
3. Set up Google+ Circles
One of the neat things about Google+ is that it lets you set up “circles” to segment different groups of people. So for example, instead of having two Facebook accounts, one for business and one for personal use, you could opt to have two circles in your Google+ that separates your business acquaintances from the people in your personal life. The beauty of this feature is that it allows you to be very specific; Google+ is letting you create your target audience and then giving you a platform to market to just that audience.
Let’s say your blog provides financial advice to those in the financial industry and also to those who just want to increase their financial literacy. The problem here is that if you put up something for people already in the financial industry, then your readers who don’t practice finance might find it too complex to understand. What you can do is create two circles that segment your readers into “industry advice” and “financial literacy.” Now you can share all your industry specific advice with only those who are currently working in the finance field and vice versa with those who aren’t.
4. Google Sparks – Stay On Top Of Your Industry
You can use the Google+ Sparks feature to stay on top of news in your niche area.
Let’s say for your next few blog posts you want to keep up with a current event such as the latest Amazon affiliate tax passed in California. What you can do is type “California Amazon Tax” or “California Amazon Affiliates” and then pin them under your Sparks for quick access. So now instead of searching around for topics related to this event, Google+ will layout everything for you in a timely order all in one place. This also makes it very easy to write your articles because it provides you with new happenings consistently as they happen. I suggest you use it like you would a Google alert. Try setting up Sparks for your company name and industry terms.
5. Google Circles + Google Sparks = Content Management
One thing you can do is create a circle for your favorite topics and post all related content to that circle so you can read it later. So if you enjoy mountain climbing then you would create a circle called “Mountain Climbing.” You would also set up a Spark for “Mountain Climbing” and then share all relevant post to your “Mountain Climbing” circle only. This also works when you are doing some research on a topic for your blog. Using this “Circle + Sparks” combo allows you to aggregate all of your information in one place and quickly replenish it with real-time information.
6. Branding – Face to Face to Face
Another neat feature that Google+ offers is Hangouts. A Hangout is an interesting video conferencing platform which creates rooms for you to hang out with your friends, coworkers, or any of your social circles. Currently you can only have up to ten people at any one hangout. It is a useful feature for building deep connections with your readers and vice versa. Let’s say your blog is about home improvement. You can create a hangout for your readers where you actually get to see the projects they are working on and provide sound advice on things you normally have to see, like what paint mixture would match their kitchen cabinets.
7. Utilize Google’s +1 feature
The Google +1 button is a way to publicly show what you like, agree with, or recommend on the web. Google has taken the Facebook “like” button and made it almost universal online. You can like things you’re searching, websites you’re visiting, videos you’re watching, products you’re buying and the list goes on and on. The really cool thing is that the people in your social network get to see the things you “+1” when they make similar searches. This will definitely be a way to measure page rankings in the future.
This little +1 feature can help you reach a wider viewer range. Let’s say you write an article on your blog about how to automate your banking process so you are never late paying bills again. Jim reads it and thinks the content is amazing so he +1’s the blog post. Now all of Jim’s friends can see the blog post and when someone from Jim’s list, let’s say Sarah also +1s it, the cycle repeats. Also, whenever one of Jim’s or Sarah’s friends search for something that is related to automating the bill payment process, your article will stand out because it has a nice blue Google +1 button letting them know that your article is worth the read (obviously!).
8. Utilize Suggestions
If you look to the right hand side of your Google+ homepage, you will notice a “Suggestions” column. This column is a list of people who Google thinks you might know or might want to add to your circles. I am not sure how Google populates this column but my guess is that they either do it based on mutual friends, similar interests, or a combination of the two. Either way I recommend reaching out to these suggestions. The reason for this is that Google has already done the grunt work and has brought you a slightly targeted audience based on your interests and the interests of your mutual friends. This is a quick and easy way to get new readers for your blog with little effort. Worst case scenario, if Google is completely wrong with their suggestion then you simply remove that person from your circle.
9. Leverage Videos
Google owns YouTube; because of this I am assuming that Google likes videos. Videos build a stronger relationship over written content even if they are providing the same amount of value. Also, from an SEO standpoint, the chances of your video being indexed are higher.
With that being said, I recommend shooting a couple of videos and sharing them with your relevant circles. Videos can be uploaded to your Google+ account the same way you would a picture. Substitute a blog post in favor of video or do both and see which one gets indexed first. Bonus: Unlike Facebook, Google+ also recognizes GIF images!
10. Make Friends with Google
In WordPress you are given the option to block your blog from search engines. Google+ gives you the same option. Here is why you DON’T want to block yourself: because it’s Google and the #1 search engine. If you are going to play the game than make sure you are playing it with the top player, right? If you’ve set up your profile correctly then you’ve just dramatically increased your chances of showing up when somebody types in your niche in the Google+ Sparks feature, but if you can’t be seen by search engines then it’s your loss.
To fix this you hit the blue “edit profile” button and scroll to the very bottom of the page. There you will see the very last item which reads “Search Visibility.” Click it. Make sure you have the box that says “Help others find my profile in Search Results” checked. Once you’re done, click the blue “save” button.
If you just started your account or are looking for a beginner tutorial, check out this in-depth Google+ guide for newbies.
How are you utilizing Google+ for YOUR blog?