Like it or not, Google+ is becoming more important in the digital marketing landscape. Google+ is not just a Facebook redux. Instead, it comprises a huge part of the social milieu of your online existence. Google+ has subtly creeped into your emailing, browsing, article writing, creating Google+ business pages, and a variety of other activities across the web.
I think it’s more important than ever before for digital marketers to embrace the potential of Google+, and use it to its full advantage. Google+ at 540 million users now trails Facebook (1 billion users) as the second-largest social network, but its impact extends far beyond social sharing and interaction.
If you’ve been delaying, skeptical, or plain disgruntled with Google+, don’t worry. I’m going to share 12 tactical things that you can do to bring your Google+ existence to a new level. Even if you’re an early adopter with frequent posting habits, I think you’ll find this article helpful.
I’ll start off with a few of the basics, and then get into some more advanced tips.
1. Use a headshot for your profile picture.
Don’t use anything other than a headshot in your profile pic. I realize the appeal of placing a picture of your child, dog, or a cartoon image, but it’s not your best choice for Google+.
Google uses a circular shape to crop the image, so keep this in mind when you select your photo. Your headshot along with basic information about you will appear all over the place in Google+.
Please note, as of June 25, 2014, Google states that they are dropping author pics from search results.
We’ve been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we’re simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count.
2. Add a high-res cover photo.
The cover photo on your Google+ profile is important, because it covers a lot of real estate. I recommend that you create a custom Google+ cover photo, rather than simply load a scenic photo from your recent vacation.
Whatever the case, please don’t continue using the stock cover photo provided by default. Here are some specific tips for creating a good Google+ cover photo:
- Use keywords in your cover image filename.
- Make the image 2120 x 1192.
- Add a caption to the cover photo.
- Share the image as a photo post on Google+. When you do this, the cover photo will be directly linked to your personal profile.
3. Get a vanity URL.
A Google+ vanity URL is a short and easy-to-remember URL. Here’s the difference between a vanity URL and the standard one:
Read these detailed instructions on how to claim your custom URL.
4. Add more people to your circles.
The more people you have in your circles, the more likely it is that people will follow you back.
Your number of your followers is public data. The number of people you follow is not public data (unlike Twitter). A higher follower number tends to increase your trustworthiness and reputation.
To add people to your circles, just click the “Add People” icon in the top right of your Google+ account.
5. Become more accessible.
If you’re using Google+ as a marketing tool, and not just to update your family members, then you need to improve your accessibility.
Go to your profile, then “settings.” Here, you can turn on following visibility and sharing options:
6. Completely fill out your story.
The “story” section of your profile is a rich opportunity for keywords, links, and information about you. Yes, Google indexes this content. Yes, it’s important to have everything completely filled out.
The more filled out your information, the better you’ll be found and accessed in Google+ search and general online searches. Obviously, you don’t want to keyword stuff your profile, but you do want to have plenty of relevant search terms and information.
- Brief tagline – Nothing more than one line about who you are and what you do
- Full introduction – This is where to add the most text. Include plenty of information about where you’ve been and what you’ve done. You should include hyperlinked text, even though the links are nofollowed. Add links to your company, your personal website, and other places where you are active. Use headings and other formatting features where appropriate.
- Bragging rights – A line or two about anything awesome you’ve done. Your real accomplishments should be in your “Introduction” section.
7. Share content to get it indexed.
Google indexes shared Google+ content very quickly. According to rumor and some anecdotal evidence, any new URL shared on Google+ is crawled right away. When you share your new content as a post — pages, products, articles, etc. — Google will index it faster.
8. Fill out all your contributor information.
I’ve written elsewhere about how authorship is a big deal. Make it even bigger. Make sure you’ve completely filled out all the websites to which you’ve contributed content.
9. Be active.
The best way to maintain a strong Google+ presence is to regularly post content. But beyond just content posting, it’s helpful to do the following:
- Add photos. Keeping a running photo album on Google+ increases your visibility and engagement on your profile.
- YouTube videos. One of your public profile tabs is your YouTube account. This is an excellent way to improve your personal marketing.
- +1s. Anything that you +1 on the web can be viewed by others, provided your settings have been adjusted accordingly.
- Create reviews. Any establishment that you review on Google+ can be seen by others. Consistently reviewing places shows that you are engaged and active.
10. Get noticed by others.
Anyone who is logged into Google has a notification center. They will get notifications from time to time. If you want to get noticed by other people, specifically those whom you have in your circles, you can make their notification center light up. How?
Cyrus Shepard shares the seventeen known ways to trigger notifications:
- Mention them in a post
- Share a post with them directly
- Share a post and you’re in a circle they subscribe to
- Comment on a post they created
- Comment on a post after they comment on it
- Add them to a circle
- Suggest new people to add to their circles
- Tag them in a photo
- Tag one of their photos
- Suggest a profile photo for them
- Comment on a photo after they comment on it
- Comment on a photo they are tagged in
- Comment on a photo they tagged
- Start a conversation with them
- Send them an invitation or update an event
- Remind them about events
- Any activity on events they created
Google+ is a networking tool (not a stalking tool), but if you want to reach out to influencers, get on the radar of someone you respect, or simply connect with other industry experts, you can do so with a few tactful touches using notifications.
11. Look at your profile the way that other people do.
Finally, when you’ve made all the necessary tweaks, adjustments, changes, and improvements, it’s time to step back and admire your work.
But how can you see your profile the way the world does?
Just click on your Profile. Beside the profile icon, you’ll see a tab that says “View profile as.” You can toggle between “Public” and “Yourself.”
Check out your Google+ profile in all its glory, just as your friends, fans, and critics will see it.
12. View Ripples.
Google+ Ripples is a relatively unknown feature of Google+. Ripples shows an interactive graph of the public shares of posts or shares. What you see is a visual perspective on how a post is “rippling” through the Google+ community. Ripples only displays collected public data, so you’re not going to see any of the share metrics from people who have shared it among private circles.
A post is public if it says “Shared publicly” at the top, underneath the profile name, and in front of the date.
To view Ripples, click the arrow button at the top right of the post, then “View Ripples.”
You’ll see something like this:
The Ripples feature is helpful if you want to analyze how your posts are being spread across the Google+ social landscape.
Google+ is a huge tool for marketing today, and I predict that it’s going to grow in importance down the road as well. Just as you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, you should maintain a steady presence on Google+ as well.
What have you found to be helpful in using your Google+ profile?