In addition to being a social media platform, Google Plus is a unique tool that everyone who would like to build an online presence should consider using. How can Google Plus help people build an online reputation and increase traffic to their sites? Here are some strategies to follow.
Google Plus lets you share your content with the right people. With Google Plus, in addition to gaining followers who will be instantly informed when you post something new, you can decide who gets to see your content. It allows you to create different ‘circles’ so you can share the right message with the right people. For example, in addition to keeping personal acquaintances separate from business, these followers can be put into various groups according to their interests for better targeting.
You can create as many circles as you want to make sure you deliver interesting content and laser-targeted messages to the people who will appreciate them the most. With Google+, personal and different business images are easier to keep separate.
You can start creating your circles by clicking on the ‘Circles’ icon in your Google+ homepage. Give your new circle a name and start dragging people in and out of the circle as you see fit. While this starts with those people in your address book, with the promotion methods discussed below, these circles can be greatly expanded and become valuable marketing tools.
Increase traffic to your site. Direct links posted on Google Plus can be followed and will generate good traffic once a page has enough followers. In addition, if someone who is following you does a search when signed into Google+, your site will get a significant boost for the keywords used if an article using those keywords is linked to your account.
It can have a favorable effect on your site’s SEO. Google now considers social activity as one of the major factors in determining search engine rankings. Generating social buzz is important in improving a site’s SEO score and getting an article +1’ed is one of the best signals in the eyes of Google.
It can help you get better exposure. People to will be able to find your business faster and easier with increased online visibility. Considering the fact that Google is used by many millions of people worldwide and that more than 60% of these people login to Google every single day.
By creating a page for your business, you can get it listed on Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) and increase the likelihood that your business will show up in the search results whenever a potential client or customer makes a relevant search – even if you don’t have a business website yet.
It will also put your business on Google Maps. Considering the fact that 97% of all people utilize the internet to find local businesses, being listed in Google Maps may offer a great boost.
When people start leaving positive feedback on a business page through Google’s rating system, it will generate the social proof that so many people are looking for when they purchase online.
Other benefits of social networking
Regardless of which social network(s) you use (more at social network marketing), some of the other benefits to consider include:
- The ability to follow interesting pages and keep informed about the niche.
- Chances to meet people and make valuable contacts.
- Social networks make sharing easy so your content has a much better chance of being passed around and may even go viral.
- Social networks offer a great way to quickly post content and gauge reaction to it, thus offering a way of judging if it is worth pursing further (such as when considering whether to market a new product or cover a new type of content on a website).
How to create a page
To create a page, simply click on the ‘Create a Google+ page’ icon on your Google+ profile page, pick an appropriate category for your business and fill in the required information. You can also upload a logo or profile picture and pick a tagline for your page. Resist the urge to share your newly created page with your circles until you have fully optimized and added more content to your page.
How to get the most from your Google Plus pages
Here are some tips that can help you get the best results from your business pages:
- Optimize your page for the search engines: Use relevant keywords in the business description, tagline and anchor text to help you rank higher in the search engines (use keyword research tools to find them). Your tagline should never exceed 21 characters and your ‘About’ description should be kept below 56 characters.
- Create a vanity URL for your business page: The URL that comes with your Google+ business page can be quite hard to remember, especially on a marketing point of view. To solve this problem, consider creating a vanity URL using Gplus.to (http://gplus.to/). To do this, simply copy your Google+ profile ID, put it in the box provided and choose a nickname that you want to go with your account.
- Use a profile picture or logo that best represents you: Using relevant photos can spruce up your business page and may be good for boosting your SEO rankings.
- Use pictures, videos and illustrations: Where appropriate, include as many visual aids as possible. If you don’t have the time or skills to produce them yourself, hire freelancers for the job.
- Link your Google+ page to your website: In addition to bringing in more followers, linking these two entities will give Google the information it needs to determine the relevancy of your site to a particular search query and may help you get higher rankings in the search engines. If you use Adwords, you may want to connect it to your Google+ account since Google combines all the +1’s you receive. The more +1’s you get, the higher the trust marker on your ads will be.
- Update your page with interesting content regularly: Keeping your page updated is one of the best ways to let your followers know that you are keen in giving them what they want and are interested to hear what they have to say. For top results, try to post a relevant and interesting update at least once a week if you cannot do it more frequently. For best results, Google advises to update on weekdays between 10AM and 2PM.
- Get to know your audience: It is very important that you read the profiles of your followers and try to uncover what type of content they want to see. The more targeted your content is, the more valuable it is for your visitors.
- Promote your page and profile: Use off-page SEO techniques to build links and use social network marketing to create a social buzz and promote your pages on other social networks. Post your link in forum profiles or any other place it might be allowed.
- Ask followers to share content: Encourage followers to share your content with their circles. This is one more reason why your content always needs to be as informative and engaging as possible.
- Participate and learn: The importance of this cannot be overstated. Participating and commenting on different posts, with an eye on learning, offering advice or even entertaining, will bring in new friends and readers. It can also be a lot of fun and a great social experience.
- Integrate sharing icons into your website: The Google+ button has quickly spread across the web and is important to those who want to increase traffic to their sites. Although a + in itself is not a link, it is one of those social signals that are seen by the search engines as a vote of confidence in a site. Therefore, it is a good idea to make it as easy as possible for users to give these votes by featuring the Google+1 button, the Google+ share and/or the Google+ badge on your pages to make sure you get the best results possible.
Set up Google Authorship
By linking your Google+ profile with your site, your profile picture and name will appear next to your website in the search results and stand out. Those logged into Google will also have the option to add you to their circles from the search results page. There are different methods for linking these explained here.
Start and join communities
The community feature makes it easier to start or interact in communities of like-minded people. Communities can be found on the left sidebar. Look at the recommended communities or do a search. It is also easy to start a community, but everything needs to be filled out carefully with keywords in the tagline. In addition, make sure each category chosen for the community is seeded with interesting content.
Google+ Hangouts as a cost-effective business tool
By using the Google+ Hangouts feature, you can invite up to nine people and video chat for free. This can be especially useful if you have freelancers working with you. The Hangout feature also gives you the option to share your computer screen with the people you are teleconferencing with and is automatically connected with Google Docs so you can easily collaborate with your team.
The Google+ Hangouts can also be used as a customer service portal to answer any questions and/or issues that may arise from your business and may serve as an ideal venue to receive valuable customer feedback.
There are currently two types of hangouts available – regular and with extras. By using the hangout that offers extras, business owners can give their hangout a name, create a shared whiteboard presentation (ideal for use by coaches and consultants) and allow screen-sharing (ideal for use by computer technical support service).
How to use Google+ Hangouts for your marketing needs
To start using Google+ Hangouts, here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure you have a Google+ account. The same goes for the people you want to meet in the Hangout.
- Install the Google Talk plugin.
- Login to your Google+ account and click on the ‘Start your own hangout’ button.
- Select which cameras and microphones you would like to use (if there are multiple cameras and microphones connected to your computer).
- Start inviting people to your Hangout. You can invite a whole circle or specify the people whom you would like to invite to your Hangout. Please note that you can set your options to ‘invitation only’ or ‘open to the public’.
With Google Plus, you get a whole suite of free yet useful tools to show what you have to offer.