Yesterday I read an article that said “nowadays G+ is “THE” social media platform. It is the most influential in positioning and ranking of search engines. It’s the star factor of any SEO strategy.” And finally I said “OKAY. I get it. I’m fixing my Google plus page. Today.”
This is how I did it. I went from having a boring, outdated placeholder page to having a hip hub on “the” social media platform. If you, too, have been holding out on Google Plus, and hoping it would just go away, here’s how to get on board and finally have a presence on Google Plus… and maybe even finally start seeing why some people rave about it.
First question: Why now?
If I’ve been ignoring (or trying to ignore) Google Plus all this time, why change now? Sure, that article was kind of an impetus, but there are reasons beyond just that article. Here, for your motivation (and mine) are 5 very good reasons to get on Google Plus:
You’ll rank way better on Google, which still holds 67% of all search traffic. Here’s the hot-off-the-presses Overall Ranking Chart from the SearchMetrics 2014 SEO Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations report. Check out the second most powerful ranking factor: Google +1s.
My emails will get a boost.
My Google Plus page will show up in the upper right hand corner of the Gmail interface when someone opens an email from me. They’ll also see the first sentence or two of my most recent Google+ post, how many followers I have and if there are any comments on the post. They’ll even be able to follow me with a click of a button.
This is what it looks like:
Gmail shows your latest Google+ post in the upper right-hand corner of every email you send.
My AdWords ads will get a boost.
Google ads a follower count to any AdWords ad with a linked Google Plus page. It looks like this:
These social annotations in Google AdWords ads can increase click-through rates by 5-10%. Google calls that line in the ad about followers a “social annotation”. It says ads with social annotations get 5-10% more clicks than those without them. Pay per click is plenty competitive enough. I’ll take all the help I can get.
Here’s another AdWords benefit: Once I get 1,000 followers I’ll be able to advertise to them in Google+ with Plus Post Ads.
I’ll get another content promotion channel.
Google communities gives me another way to promote the content I create and to see what people are asking about and doing in my niche.
Hangouts give me a new webinar platform, and way to talk with people anywhere in the world. Those are all good reasons, but really, 80% of why I’m doing this Google+ work is for the search engine rankings… and maybe 10% for the email marketing boost. Given all that, I decided to put 3 hours into improving my Google + page. Here’s what I did and how long it took.
I updated the photo
If you can’t find time to do anything else, update your Google+ cover photo and the links section of your profile. I also bookmarked this for when I’m making batches of images again:
I updated all the links in the Links section.
Google may be hammering down on link building these days, but there is one place they encourage you to do it: In your Google+ profile. Click on the About link while you’re viewing your page “as yourself” and then scroll down to the bottom. There’s a whole section there to add whatever links you want.
My links were really outdated, so I added or updated all my social media account links, including my SlideShare account, Pinterest and YouTube. There are now six social media links.
I could have added many more links – the Google plus interface let me add 20 more empty link input boxes… just I deleted them. I wanted to see if the system would finally stop me from adding links. It didn’t.
After the social media links I added links for places I write for in the “Contributor to” section. Last but not least, there was a plain “Links” section. So I added every major page of my website. I ended up with 15 additional links here. Google would have let me add more.
I spent time rewriting my skills and the “Story” section of my profile.
This, too, needed a big update. Now if a prospective client sees it, I won’t be embarrassed. I also tweaked the “tagline” of my story, because that’s what will show up as the meta description of my Google+ page in the search engine results.
I found a couple of Google+ tools and messed about with them for about an hour.
CircleCount, SteadyDemand and Timing.minimali.se seemed to be the most useful:
- Friendsplus.me – Lets you share your Google+ content to any other platform. Might come in handy. It’s free.
- CircleCount.com – all kinds of interesting stats… and a new way to spy on competitors, or to find influencers. Free.
- Circloscope.com – a way to speed up finding people to follow and add to your circles. $47 a year.
- SteadyDemand.com – you type in your Google+ url and this tool gives you back a list of things that are good and bad, what needs fixing, and what’s good already. The basic tool is free. There’s also a personal plan for $12 a month and a business plan for $24. This tool also shows you when is the best time to post.
- Timing.minimali.se – This is a great tool to find out when is the best time for you to post on Google+. It analyses your account and past posts to determine when you’ll get the most engagement. Just fyi: Marketing services firm Fannit says the best time to post on Google is between 9:00-11:00am. The worst time is 6:00pm-7:00am. But it’s better if you go to Timing.minimali.se and see when is best for your account and your audience.
SteadyDemand is one of the most helpful Google+ tools I found. It reviews your Google+ profile and gives you a free report that shows exactly what you need to improve.
I realized I had not posted to my profile page for nearly six months.
I’ve been frustrated with this for awhile. I can’t upload posts to my Google+ profile from Buffer, which I use to automate most of my social media updates. Buffer only posts to Google+ pages, not profiles. I do have a Google+ page, and Buffer has been posting to it daily, but my page hasn’t got any followers, whereas my profile has quite a few.
I really want to post to my profile on a daily basis. So I checked HootSuite and MeetEdgar to see if they work with Google+. Neither does. Grrrrr.
Then I found it: A Google Chrome extension to automate updates to my profile page. It’s called Do Share. So I spent another hour queuing up about a month’s worth of posts. I borrowed Demain Farnworth’s advice and
- kept headlines to less than 60 characters
- wrote a strong first sentence (because it’s all people will see of the body of the post until they click through)
- added hashtags (lightly)
- added asterisks on either side of words I wanted to be in bold
- added underscores on either side of words I wanted to be in italics
- added hyphens on either side of words I wanted to be strikedout
Do Share is an excellent free Chrome extension that lets you schedule your Google+ posts to a profile page.
I didn’t worry too much about post length, because Google+ generally allows slightly longer posts – but I still kept them super short… about 160 to occasionally as long as 400 characters.
- I already had a custom url for my Google plus page, but if you don’t you can get one here: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2676340?hl=en
- I spent an hour for so following a bunch of people.
- I joined about 10 new communities
Google plus offers a number of communities. They’re similar to LinkedIn’s groups.
I made sure the Google+ social sharing button on my website were working.
I want those 1+s… and the rankings that come with them. I’m pretty happy with my new Google+ setup. It took less than a day to do, and I can probably maintain it in 30-60 or so minutes a week. If my pages improve in the rankings enough to get even 20% more traffic to my site, then that’s an hour well spent.