A Content Marketer’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Killing It with Google+

by 34 08/01/2012

I hate it when people make predictions about the outcomes of events with an air of certainty.

Stock market. Super Bowls. Weather.

Because when it comes to making predictions, our rate of success usually stinks.

This is why I was rolling my eyes when Brian Clark announced back in January that Google+ will become a tool in every content marketers’ toolbox.

Yeah, sure.

I have to confess: I wanted to see his prediction fall flat (I’m sadistic like that), because I just did NOT want to contend with another social media platform.

Well, after months of extensive research with clients I officially cry, “Uncle.” Google+, and Brian Clark by default, wins.

So, more than ever getting that Google+ account is critical for the content marketer–especially when it comes to driving traffic, subscribers and sales. But like most social media, having the account is not enough.

You have to optimize it if you want to kill it. Are you ready?

Optimize Your Google+ Profile

Your profile needs to be optimized with keywords just like a typical web page. And even though keywords don’t matter as much as who you are connected to, if you don’t have the right keywords, then your connections are meaningless.

You won’t show up on internal or external searches.

AJ Kohn, who did a wee bit of experimenting, pointed out that keywords only matter in four sections in your Google+ profile:

  • Introduction
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Places

Weave keywords into these sections. After that, though, you need to focus on the size and quality of your Circles.

Let’s look at that now.

Optimize Your Circles

This is pretty cut and dry: build a solid audience of people into your Circles. Focus on people with influence. At this point in the game, it’s still early enough to attract their attention since the space isn’t crowded.

Here’s a simple step-by-step:

  • Identify influencers
  • Comment like crazy with these influencers
  • Share his or her content like crazy
  • Share your work strategically with that influencer
  • Create posts targeted to that particular social media influencer

By the way, don’t put a lot of effort into creating distinct Circles. You’ll wear your self out. Just go with the default–and share with all.

Anybody disagree?

Share Compelling Content

Much like Facebook, Google+ is an excellent platform to share content on. However, it has a few distinct advantages over Facebook including no ads, images look beautiful and you can edit comments and posts.

But what kind of content should you share? Here’s a hit list of ideas:

  • Add some creative and smart people into your Google+ stream, and start sharing their content with your audience. Building up rapport with other users will eventually expose you to their audiences.
  • Use discover tools like StumbleUpon, Delicious or Pinterest.
  • Schedule a day where you focus on just one topic. This could be on or off topic. Whatever the case, dedicating an entire day devoted to one topic will drive traffic and subscribers to your account as they come to anticipate what you are going to share next. The content could be posts you write, links you share, images or videos (original or not).
  • Post images and videos. The Google+ design is perfect for images and watching videos. It even rocks on the app version (which I’ll explain below).

In addition, you’ll want to pay attention to what content is getting the most response (I’ll show you how to do that below).

Create Google+ Headlines

I don’t know if you realize this, but content you share on Google+ can show up as a search listing within minutes of your posting it. And often it can rank pretty high for that term–reaching the first page in some circumstances.

This is why it’s important to use headlines for your Google+ posts. See, if you don’t use a headline, Google will just grab the 70 characters of the first line. That won’t be very compelling when it shows up on the search page.

Google_Plus_Headline

How do you optimize the headline? Just add asterisks around your headline like this: *Headline* (the asterisks will disappear when you post). And don’t forget your keywords.

What about the the listing description? Can you tweak that, too?

Yes, you can.

Google is simply going to pull the first 160 characters, which means you need to pay close attention to your first sentence after the headline. Seducing readers is the name of the click through game.

Create compelling Google+ content

What about original content? What should you create for Google+?

Good questions.

Here are some ideas:

  •  Photos and videos – Find and share beautiful photographs or funny videos with your audience. Don’t forget your headline and add about two or three paragraphs of keyword-rich content to help steer organic traffic your way. Remember, people can search Google+, so the more content you include in your posts, the wider your net will be.
  • Surveys – One of the best ways to engage your audience is to ask them a compelling question. Format the post so the headline is the question, and then the content of the post is a description or expansion of what you are asking.
  • Niche blog – Let’s say you have an interest that is not quite focused enough on your industry to write about it on your blog. Why not treat your Google+ account as a little blog on that topic? It could be a hobby or passion? It’s your choice.

Use Ripple

All good things grow when you measure. This is also true for your Google+ content. Counting comments and +1’s is one way to measure it. But you also want to measure the reach of individual posts.

Enter Ripple.

Ripple is a tool on Google+ that will show you how far a particular post has spread. You’ll see the original post (in the red box) and the number of public shares:

Hovering over a bubble will allow you to get granular information about someone who shared that content.  In essence, Ripple can help you discover which posts and ideas are having an impact, and which aren’t.

Optimize the +1 button

Killing it with Google+ obviously includes using the +1 button on your blog. It’s a simple code embed:

Plus_One_Button_Code

Or you can use a plugin like Scrolling Social Sidebar. Either way, you want to encourage people to +1 your content since it is obviously influencing search rankings.

The thing to know about +1’s is that it seems that Google gives more weight to those that you get directly off of your site than you do on Google+ itself. For example, the 100 +1’s clicked on your site is going to factor into search rankings more than 100 +1’s you got for the same post on Google+.

Confirm Authorship

Most of the tactics above are easy to understand and implement. Now we are stepping out into difficult terrain. But it’s essential terrain.

Let me explain.

You may have noticed that when you search on Google certain search listings appear with a picture to the left:

Seductive_Headline

That’s not magic.

That’s someone who has claimed they are an author of web content.  And that someone who has claimed authorship now has the opportunity to increase the clickthroughs he gets on search results page by 150%.

This is exactly what Catalyst did with their experiment. And I’ve seen an uptick in clickthroughs on my content since I secured my authorship.

Why? Not only does the profile picture standout, but the “by Demian Farnworth” drives traffic to my Google+ page, as does the “More by Demian Farnworth” link (which is a page devoted to my online content).

Those are good advantages to have. So how do you actually confirm authorship?

Try AJ Kohn’s guide.

Let me be honest: it’s a tricky proposition. But AJ worked with some engineers from Google, making it some what less daunting than it would be if you had to tackle it on your own.

Link Your Blog to Google+

Your next step is to link your blog/website to your Google+ account.

This is another complex step to take, and the jury is actually out on how effective it actually is, but the consensus says that having the link will actually influence searches inside Google+.

If you have any more information about this, please share. I’d love to know.

Mobile Version Rocks Facebook’s

One of the reasons I’m bullish on Google+ is the fact that Facebook’s mobile app sucks. It’s hard to use, is a drag to open and load, loses content, misplaces messages and the design is horrible.

Facebook knows this. It’s why they bought Instagram. They needed that team of designers to fix their app problems.

In this respect they are behind Google+.

The Google+ app is beautiful, elegant to use and hard to put down. It’s just a matter of time before Facebook fades and Google+ becomes the world’s number one social media platform.

Conclusion

Just thinking about being on another social media platform is probably giving you a headache. I understand. I resisted for a long time. Until I was convinced over time by the growing body of evidence that suggest Google may one day sit on the throne of the social media king.

Besides, even if Facebook finds some way to hold off Google+, the personal advantages optimizing your Google+ account gives to content marketers like you and me outweighs any thing that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr or Reddit could offer you.

So, you on Google+? What has worked and not worked for you? Do you think I’m full of it? Please share. Brutal and all.

About 

Demian Farnworth is a freelance writer who hustles the finer points of web writing at The CopyBot. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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34 COMMENTS

Steven Sefton

So much better experience and much better way to share your content. Everything justs looks so much bettter there. I agree with everything you have said.

Steven

August 1, 2012 Reply

Brian Clark

Sorry man, I’ll try harder to be wrong next time. ;)

August 1, 2012 Reply

Anand Patel @anandmpatel.com

Never knew about the asterisks trick to create headlines in Google+…definitely will take advantage of that so thanks !

August 1, 2012 Reply

Jason Allred

It really is SO much better looking than Facebook. It’s addicting too, whereas Facebook gives me a headache. I just need to convince some of my friends to come over to the dark side! Haha

August 1, 2012 Reply

Gavin

I never see any “Ripples” in the dropdown, does this mean none is sharing my stuff ?

August 2, 2012 Reply

Jim Banks

I totally love Google+, I only wish people didn’t just regurgitate the same stuff they do on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

You need original content, comments, mention others in comments, +1 other people stuff about 5 times as much as you +1 your own stuff and you’ll appear more natural.

August 2, 2012 Reply

Frances

This is a fantastic post. I didn’t know I could connect my blog to G+. Thanks for the tips.

August 2, 2012 Reply

geoseo

You deserve a +10! Some great advice there…

August 2, 2012 Reply

Kwaku James

This artical came just at the right time. I’ve been watching Google+ for the past few months and have decided to use it as my main vehicle for marketing and exposure for my Fitness and Personal Training persona. Thank you Demian Farnsworth for a well put together read. Now its time to save it and study it later. I will help millions.

August 2, 2012 Reply

Dan Johnson

Good stuff Demian. Thanks for the refresher — I’m guilty of having all the intitial excitement over G+ and my interest fell off. I need to get back in there and do it right.

August 2, 2012 Reply

Shawn Lippert

I use hashtags (#) below each post to make it easier for people to find relevant content. This has increased my following greatly and I have more re-shares.
I also mostly post and comment on my niche market and I believe Google see’s this as a authoritive Social Signal which gives credibility and improves my rankings in the organic rankings as I have seen my traffic improve by 50% in the past few months.
Thanks for the great tips, I already have been using each and every one and it works!

August 3, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    Shawn, thanks for the hashtag tip. I didn’t realize people actually search using hashtags. And it sounds like a pretty effective way to pick up followers.

    August 3, 2012 Reply

Michael Tucker

Demian, there was one feature that you omitted from this great overview of Google+.
That is Hangouts, truly the most outstanding feature of the whole platform, especially now that we can livestream directly to YouTube from a hangout. Getting a group together for an open discussion is wonderful and I have met so many great people because of this feature. This has gone further to actually meeting some of these in real life.(and it is great to hug them!)

August 3, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    Michael, you are correct. Deserves an entire post all to its self. Maybe I’ll connect with you when that time comes…?

    August 3, 2012 Reply

Chris Stewart

Great stuff man.I too am not so hip on another socail to plug into. But this opens up very good possibilities.

August 3, 2012 Reply

Dorothy Allen

I appreciate this post concerning Google+. Your simplistic method of explaining the unexplainable is very helpful. I am not questioning Google+ being a desirable platform from which to create social influence, but I still have quite a few questions…problems with the entire process. Perhaps I’m comfused, but it appears to me that the use of Google+ starts somethng like a domino effect. Whatever is done there affects so many other, for lack of a better word, sub-platforms within the Google conglameration of helpful bonuses to the + pages. I feel consumed by Google+. It can dominate one’s existence. There’s Places which is no more but has become something else, there’s circles and the involved process of arranging to share there, there’s analytics that’s adding social activity but other measureing techniques remain recommended, somthing I looked at connected to + required an adsense account to use it and another required the use of Chrome to function. It seems to me that Google has knitted everything together in such a way that each item influences, for better or worse, everything else.
Am I simply suffering from info overlaod? From a business standpoint, I understand that it is to Google’s better interest to arrange the system like that but, for the person who is trying to make sense of it all, there’s a huge learning curve that becomes iintertwined with every other thing that is google. Again, thanks for your post. Good stuff.

August 4, 2012 Reply

Sarah Wiltshire

Have picked up some great tips, thanks Damian.

I’m not on Facebook. I’m wondering – is there any point, maybe I am as well to focus my energies on G+? I have a Twitter, Linked, and soon-to-be, YouTube presence. Any thoughts?

August 17, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    I think that is a good plan. Facebook is falling out of favor, so no loss if you don’t invest any time there.

    August 20, 2012 Reply

Vijay Shinde

Do you think adding all contats to one circle is not a good move?

October 30, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    Vishay, that’s what I do. Right now all of the people I follow fall into basically the same category. They all bascially use it for the same reason. There isn’t enough diversity to go through the trouble of circle fatigue. That may change when it gets more mainstream.

    October 30, 2012 Reply

Jeremy

great post, really enjoyed the tips. I agree, the facebook mobile app is way behind, I’m surprised there isn’t even a way to re-share a post from mobile. Google plus app is great…thanks for the great guide.

November 4, 2012 Reply

Alain

Great post.
I am new at Google plus but very fast I am realizing its SEO value. I just have one question about “Circles”. It the objective to have lots of follower? You put a lot of emphasis on Influencers. Why following influencers and building a relationship with them is so important? If I am a Real estate agent, isn’t my objective just to have lots of followers (some of them potential home owners)? If I make websites, my target audience woudl be small business, why do I need to put focus on one influencer? My strategy would be to follow small companies with the hope that they would follow me back. Is there something that I am missing. Guy Kawasaky is big on G+, how does it help me to follow him and target him?

Thank you so much

November 12, 2012 Reply

    Demian Farnworth

    Great question. At the moment the majority are not on Google+, and if they are, they are not using it. Google+ has about one active member out of four. That’s why it feels like a ghost town. You can’t use it the same way you do FB or Twitter. At the moment the important part is to make connections–and the more influencers you have connecting to you will pay dividends down the road when Author Rank is rolled out. Building authority is the key now.

    November 13, 2012 Reply

Tiffiny Taylor

I need clarification on using Google+ with a business page. Should I post info, photos & content related to my business on the business page then “share” the post on my personal account or vice versa? If I am am trying to promote a business what is the best strategy?

December 18, 2012 Reply


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