Google Plus is like the glue that holds all of Google's products together and is a fantastic socializing and networking experience. Every marketer should be using Google Plus as part of their strategy to build their brand's image online. The following articles will show you how to setup your Google Plus business page the right way and how to make the most out of the service.
Creating a Google Plus Business Page
As is the case with your Facebook account, you don't want to create another personal profile but rather a proper business page which allows for extensive optimization. From your Google Plus profile, simply choose the 'Pages' option from the sidebar to get started. If you don't see it, it may just be hidden, so hover over the link in your sidebar that says 'More' and it should pop up.
Get a Vanity URL
Google Plus is slowly rolling out custom URL's to a limited number of profiles and pages. Over time, they extend this availability to many more profiles/pages. A way to skip the wait and get a vanity URL now for Google Plus business page now is to head over to http://gplus.to which is a service that will shorten your URL, making it easier to be shared. The format will look something like gplus.to/YOURPAGENAME
Your Header Image for Featured Photos
Google Plus' business page header lets you choose between a regular banner (1 large image) or 5 smaller images. You can use this header space to show off your latest product or highlight your business's phone number or website URL. Facebook no longer allows you to do this on their site, which works in Google's favor. Your strip of 5 images is will displayed best by using 110x110 pixel images and one large header photo which should be 940x180 pixels.
Below every page's business name, you're able to add a tagline to give people a quick idea of what your business is about. This sentence will show as the description whenever someone shares your page, as well as the first sentence when it's found in Google search. Keep it short, descriptive and keyword-rich or alternatively as a brief message letting people know exactly who you are. Here are some examples of how well-known brands use it:
Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
The worldwide leader in news
I'm lovin' it
Improve your About Section
You should use your About section wisely by focusing on keywords that you are trying to rank for and those that your customers may search for. This is also something to consider when making your posts as well. Sprinkle keywords within your content to help your posts become more visible in both Google+ and Google search.
Filling out your Profile
Ensure that your Google Plus profile has been completed in full. Make sure that every last field has been filled in, so that should a potential customer find your page, they needn't search everywhere for your contact details. Also make sure that your profile picture looks clear and not stretched, by uploading an image that is 250x250 pixels minimum.
There's a handy Recommended Links area on your profile where you can add links to your website, blog and other social profiles that you'd like to promote.
Use your Introduction space and Contact Info section to leave lots of links to your site, as Google Plus is tied closely with Google search, every bit helps.
+1 Blog Posts and the Website Button
Whenever you create a blog post, you should add a +1 button widget to it so that your audience can easily share your content. You should also be promoting your Google Plus page by adding a clickable badge that's linked to your business profile. A step further would be to get your employees to set up Google Plus profiles and add your URL to their Links section.
Managing your Circles
With all social network, you need to be involved and active with your fans – this holds true for Google Plus as well. The Circles feature allows you to easily categorize your followers into different groups which comes in useful when you want to send specific messages to a select group of people. For further organization, you can create circles corresponding to current customers, prospective customers and new customers.
Concentrate on a business-to-business basis by creating circles that correspond to a specific business and then adding key clients from that business to that circle.
You may want to create a circle that only contains those who consistently share and like your content, and use it to build a relationship with them. You can message them directly, send them exclusive content of have a hangout with that circle.
Adding to Circles
Though you do need to have followers on Google Plus, you don't want to add just anybody. You should only circle those people that add value to your Google Plus experience. By combining your business and personal page, you can find more people to circle using the Google Plus shared circle database, and begin conversations with relevant people.
Getting Added to Circles
Being added to people's circles is an important part of Google Plus. The problem is, you cannot simply become part of someone's circle, they have to circle you. To do this, you'll need to show them your business page after you've engaged in some form of conversation with them, where online or offline.
Providing Great Content
Your Facebook audience and your Google Plus audience may be very different to each other, so it's important to get to know them by engaging them in conversation and interacting with them in any way you can.
As well being great for your business page, the content you add to Google Plus is also very important to search engines. Whenever you post to Google Plus, your content is immediately indexed in Google which gives it a far wider audience. And now with Google's new personalized search, your content is more likely to be found by your contacts during online searches.
Using Pictures and Videos
The use of pictures and videos is a powerful way to get your content noticed and draw in your audience. It works especially well on the "What's hot and recommended" section on Google Plus under the Explore tab. Head over to your Profile setting and make all your photos public, downloadable and showing their geo-location for a more shareable experience.
Editing a Post
If you find that you've made an error, Google Plus allows you to edit posts that are already live. You simply need to click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner of the post and choose Edit Post from the menu that appears.
For even more emphasize in your posts, you have the option of adding bold, italics and strikethrough to your posts.
To make a word bold , use this format: *word*
For italics, use the format: _word_
And for strikethrough, use: -word-
Mentions and Hashtags
The use of @mentions and hashtags are very important on Google Plus for tagging other users and grouping related content, just like with Twitter.
To hyperlink someone's name: Use "+" or "@" before their name
To use a hashtag to group content: Simply type "#" and the keyword, e.g. #marketing
To prevent a post from being shared: Click the arrow next to your post and choose "Disable Share"
Google Plus and your Involvement
You should be searching Google Plus every day for any mentions of your business. Respond to any mentions you come across and re-share posts. You should also stay involved in the community by having conversations with your followers, commenting on other people's comments and promote loyal followers with the +1 tool to make them feel special. Start more conversations with your followers to find out what they think about your services which will keep them attentive when it comes time to start advertising your products/services.
Making the Most of Google Plus Communities
In late 2012, Google Plus launched its Communities feature which gives people a place to gather and discuss products, brands and ideas with each other. This is a fantastic place to engage with your customers and get feedback from them. The best part is that everything that is posted on a Community page (both public and private) is indexed by Google search.
You can easily create your own Community, by heading to the Community tab on your page and click the link marked "Create a Community". Be sure to tell all your fans about it to quickly build up your audience and get some conversations going.
Make Use of Google Plus Local
1.If your business has a physical presence it's important to get yourself onto Google Plus Local by filling out your business info at www.google.com/placesforbusiness so that fans will know how to find you.
2. Google+ Local pages are indexed in Google search meaning that if you're create a good Local page with all your business info, there's a good chance that it will receive high engagement from your fans helping it to rank well among your competitors.
2. If you already have a Local Page – previously called Google Place – but no Google Plus business account, you can easily create a new Google Plus business page and merge the two together.
As with all social media sites, it's important to keep adding interesting content to you page on a consistent basis. Find out when your audience is most active online and be sure to time your posts accordingly. If a post is of extra importance, you may want to post it several times under different guises to ensure that it's noticed and read by a larger portion of your followers.
Become an Industry Expert
As with other sites, people flock to get information from those that are experts in their field. If you're especially good at something, let everyone on Google Plus know and continue posting insightful and useful information that they'll find interesting and will be more likely to share with their circles.
When someone likes or comments on one of your posts, make sure you reply to them as soon as humanly possible. Work on replying to your fans well within 24 hours, as any reply after that will lose its impact. If you're using Chrome, there's a handy extension called Notification Count that will add a counter next to your search bar in your browser to keep you abreast of your notifications. Another useful extension is called Extend Share which allows you to easily share a Google Plus post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Use Ripples to Measure Sharing
Google Plus has a feature called Ripples which allows you to measure how well a public post is doing. Ripple will only work on post that you've sent out as "public" and those posts of yours that are shared publicly. You can access Ripples by simply clicking on the dropdown arrow next to any of your posts. You can use this info to locate those that share you content and send a "thank you" their way. By building stronger relationships with your audience, you grow your customer base which will lead to more conversations in time.
Make Use of Hangouts
Use Google Plus' Hangouts to hold conference called and share videos. Get even closer to your audience by having regular Hangouts and take it a step further by using the "Hangouts on Air" feature which will let you broadcast your video live on YouTube to a larger audience. Hangouts allow you to gives you a way to better connect with audience thereby expanding your company's reach.
Sign Up for Google Authorship
You can use your Google Plus account to sign up to the Google Authorship program which authenticates your business as a sources of high quality content. One of the benefits of this is getting a photo next to your blog posts in search results. This is a known way to boost traffic to your blog posts. Once you've been accepted into the authorship program, the original posts that you make will rank higher than those that have scraped your content.
The Benefits of Google Authorship
1. Better clickthrough rates on search results as they stand out more
2. More traffic to your Google Plus profile
3. More content to your other content (Due to "more by" link in search result)
Registering for Google Authorship
First you'll need to upload a high quality image of yourself with your face clearly showing as your Google+ profile photo and fill out your profile info completely.
Next, head over to http://plus.google.com/authorship and sign up with your email to have the verification link sent to you.
Turn Off Email Notifications
By default, Google+ emails whenever there is any activity on your account, be sure to turn this setting off to avoid an influx of emails. This can become very annoying and you should be checking your account a few times every day which leaves little need for this setting to be on.
Mute Posts to Stop Notifications
If you've got a post that's receiving a lot of activity, and you just can't keep up with the notifications – simply click the arrow to the right of the post and select "Mute this post." This will stop all notifications from that post.
Test your Methods
The best way to get ahead in Google Plus is to test different types of posts and hangout to see what your audience reacts to best. Make use of the Ripples feature to constantly monitor which posts are most effective in your strategy and use what you learn to create better posts in the future. You can also study the behavior of your audience by using Google Analytics as this information is key part of your business.