Google Plus Guide for Bloggers #blogathon2
This post (Google Plus Guide for Bloggers) was a mini challenge for the Biannual Blogathon Bash (Jan 25-28/13). However anyone is welcome to use this information or even do the challenge at any time.
NOTE: I cover a LOT of ground in this post. Some of it is for beginners, some for intermediates and some for advanced users of Google+. Read through it and just skip the parts that either you already know/do or are over your head for now. The challenge at the end will not require you to implement EVERYTHING you read about, don’t worry!
What IS Google+?
“Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus, sometimes abbreviated as G+) is a multilingual social networking and identity service owned and operated by Google Inc. It was launched on June 28, 2011. As of December 2012, it has a total of 500 million registered users of whom 235 million are active on a monthly basis” – source: wikipedia
Do I Need Another Social Network?
No not necessarily. Not every business (and if you want to make money on your blog or sell something, its a business) needs to use every social network. The reason there are so many is that every person is different and we do not like all the same things. Do not jump on every new social network BUT also don’t just ignore it.
In the Why Social Network Promotion Is Important for Blogs mini challenge, I cover how to decide which social networks you should be focusing your efforts on. I suggest reading that section first and deciding if Google+ is one you would like to investigate. There is another reason to consider Google+ though.
You can also use different social networks for different reasons and in different ways. I use my Facebook profile for real life family/friends, my fan pages for blog fans, twitter to make new friends and generate leads and Google+ to connect with other bloggers. I also use LinkedIn to connect with bloggers, PR and Companies I work with.
Signing Up for Google+
Sign up for an account on Google+ if you haven’t already. Make sure you upload an actual photo of your face unless you blog anonymously. People connect much better with a face. Edit your about section, include relevant links to your websites/blogs and social media.
You can also start a page for your blog, similar to Facebook’s fan pages. I recommend this. When you +1 content it will go on your personal profile but you will also want to post updates on on your blog posts on your blog’s Google+ page.
How is Google+ Different From Facebook?
On Facebook as you probably know, in order to connect with someone, they have to agree. I can’t be friends with you unless you accept my friend request. It’s generally encouraged that you use Facebook to connect with people you already know. When I share something on Facebook, potentially all my friends can see it. On Google+, not only can I connect with you but I can put you in separate circles that I create to separate those I connect with into groups such as coworkers, friends, family or even competition to keep an eye on, those I admire etc. In addition, when I share content, I can choose whether to share it with everyone I connected with or just those in a certain circle. So I can share news about my job with only my coworkers or even my coworkers and family. I can share news about my baby with my family and friends but not my coworkers.
Another thing that sets it apart from Facebook is that while it does have social games, there are much less, they are in a separate section and the notifications for those are separate and unobtrusive.
Using Google Plus
Creating an account is not enough if you don’t actually USE Google+. If you are using it to connect, that won’t work if you aren’t on it. If your focus is SEO, an inactive page won’t help and possibly might hurt. You need to be posting to your Google+ profile and page for it to count towards SEO.
Set aside some time to explore Google+ and learn how to use it. After you’ve clicked around and tried a bunch of things, if you still need help or have questions, then research Google+ and learn more about how to use it
- Organize your circles early on before you are following lots of people or it will be a lot harder. Decide what categories you think might be relevant to your life. You can create circles even without someone to put in them. Remember you can put someone in more than one circle as well (perhaps your brother is also your coworker so… Family and Coworkers.)
- Check out the Explore tab to find interesting updates from people you don’t follow and perhaps make some new connections. You can follow the people right from there by hovering over their name and then hovering over follow.
- Update your Cover Photo. Just like Facebook, you can customize the long image at the top of your profile. The dimensions are 940×180 but keep in mind that your profile photo will cover some of the right. Upload part of a photo or create your own image using an image editor (you can do it for free using ipiccy or Picmonkey). Simply insert a background colour or pattern and add text with your name and who you are. It is my understanding that there aren’t currently rules for the cover photo like there are with Facebook but that may change.
- Use Events to organize an event an invite your Google+ connections. When your guests RSVP, they can say how many guests they will be bringing too.
- Communities are a fairly new feature and are like Facebook’s groups. These are a good way to find new people to connect with that are interested in what you are interested in.
- Make a point to check Google+ at least once a week at first, then work up to once a day if you can, depending on your schedule. You don’t have to spend hours on it, but spend some time updating, following a new person or two and interacting on other’s posts.
Learn More: Social Media: Google+ Blogathon Pinterest Board
What’s My Profile or Page URL?
If you are having trouble figuring out the direct link to your Google+ profile or page, you are not alone. That’s one thing they need to improve upon. See the one that says profile in the navigation on the left (a picture of what it looks like is right above this section.) Click on it and copy that link in your address bar or just right click on the word profile and copy link location. You can also get a short url that directs to your google plus page by going to gplus.to. You’ll still need to find your profile url first though.
It will look like this: https://plus.google.com/106634013940758971329
For pages, in that same navigation bar, where it says more, if you hover over that, there is an option at the end for pages. Click on that and it will show all the pages you have created. Switch to using the page you want a link from. See that really long url in the address bar? Yep that’s it. You can use gplus.to for your page too.
It will look like this: https://plus.google.com/b/115238869383088328520/115238869383088328520/posts
Gaining Google+ Connections and Interaction
So you have your profile and maybe even a page, you’ve filled in your information, changed your images and looked around to see how it works. Perhaps you joined a community and edited your circles and found a few people to add to your circles. Now what? How do you get people to add YOU to their circles? How do you get Interaction on your posts (+1s, Comments and Shares.)
Adding others to your circles can result in some of them adding you since they receive a notification for each add. So for starters, keep exploring Google+ to find people you might be interested in. You should also be interacting with other people on Google+. There are those that say they don’t want to use Google+ because they don’t get interaction on it. I ask them, do you visit Google+ regularly and interact? No? If you and all your blogger friends are posting updates but not interacting with anyone else, how can you expect interaction? If your blogging buddies interact with you, other people will see that some people have interacted and join in.
By the same token, some groups for bloggers now have Google+ interaction threads. You post a update you made on Google+ and then you +1/share/comment on the posts other people leave and they do the same for you. If you participate in these, just make sure you actually read their posts and you leave meaningful comments that might inspire more conversation. The purpose is to start the conversation so others will join in. Some groups have a thread for G+ interaction but I would also like to recommend a Facebook Group dedicated to Google+ Interaction (I know that sounds weird.)
Let your followers on your other networks know you are now on Google+ and leave a way they can follow you. Don’t forget to do up a post on your blog with the announcement too! Add it to your email signature as well. You can also add a Google+ widget in your blog’s sidebar that will allow people to follow you directly from your blog.
Is Your Blog on Blogspot?
If the answer is no, skip to the next section.
Unless for some reason you have two Google accounts, when you create a Google+ account it should be on the same Google account as you use Blogger/Blogspot. Once you’ve created an account, go to your Blogger Dashboard and look for the little wheel on the top right. That’s the options menu. Click on that and choose ‘Connect to Google+’.Follow the instructions to connect your Blogger account with your Google+ account. If there is anything on your Blogger Profile you want to save, do so first. By doing this, when someone clicks on your name in a comment or in the generic about section, it will go to your Google+ page instead of your profile.
Google+ Is Imperative for Increasing Search Engine Rankings
Backtracking a bit for those new to SEO and SERPs, let me give a quick background. When you search for something (whether you use Google or not), there are certain algorithms that determine what results you see. They are supposed to make it so you see what is relevant to your search. All search engines use them but Google is constantly revising how they do search to try to eliminate the spam sites or low quality sites from your results.
If you want people to find your site via search, then you need to have some basic knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is a way of formatting your blog to increase the chance your site comes up for certain search terms (keywords.) SERPs stands for Search Engine Results Page and is the page you get after you perform a search. Learn More: Blogger SEO Basics , SEO Blogathon Pinterest Board
How Does Google+ Affect SEO and SERPs?
Google crawls Google+ pages. Crawling a site just means that Google looks at the information on that site and uses it to help it’s search engine rankings. The more places your website and keywords are together, the higher you rank. So creating a Google+ page for your blog or business, assuming it’s optimized for SEO, will help you get closer to page 1 of the search results.
Also the +1 button which is similar to a Facebook like but more in-depth helps with SEO. Google assumes that if people +1 your content, they must like it. Many +1s show Google that your content is good and therefore it ranks a bit higher. While a Facebook like just makes YOU feel good. A Google +1 means a lot more. Learn More: Is Google Imperative for SEO?, Google’s +1 Button and How It May Change SEO.
Introducing AuthorRank (rel=author)
If you are brand new to Google+, you may want to just get used to using it for now. However sometime soon you will want to take notice of AuthorRank and learn what it is.
Currently Google ranks websites, blogs and webpages using PageRank (PR). Your Pagerank goes up by getting other sites to link to you (if their PR is good it’s better for you than a link from a low PR site but they are all helpful.) Site with a higher PR get higher spots in the SERPs (search results.) However black hat practices (raising your SERPs unethically) have resulted in some sites managing to get higher rankings and sometimes high PR without really earning it.
AuthorRank is designed to rank the author of the content, not the sites the content is on. AuthorRank does NOT replace PageRank, but does complement it. AuthorRank connects the content you write with your Google+ account. So any guest posts I do or articles I submit to other websites or blogs will be connected with my content on my own sites (all of them) and connected to my Google+ account.
If you are still a bit confused, that’s okay. AuthorRank is new and not fully realized yet. However you do want to use the rel=author tag to connect your content to your Google+ page. You can find out How to Set up Google Authorship from Constant Contact. Learn More: Google Authorship Google Community
Google+ Is Constantly Evolving
Like any good social network, Google+ is always working on getting better at meeting our needs. Don’t let that be an excuse why you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. Changes are usually small and easy to adjust to. The more you use Google+, the more you might find you PREFER it. You never know.
You’ve absorbed a lot of information, especially if you read every part.
If you are not already on Google+ create an account. Make at least a personal profile for now. I encourage you to make a page for your blog too. If you are new to Google+, look around and find out how to use it. Try out something you learned above. If you already had a good grasp of Google+ before you read this, explore a part of Google+ you have not yet. Add Google Authorship or join a community and interact in it or go through the explore tab. Something you haven’t done yet.
*Most of the images were screenshots or logos. The Social Network Icons image from Flickr Creative Commons user webtreatsetc. Some images are from Kozzi.com. If you signup via this link we both receive 10 Premium Credits for FREE!
Kathleen is a blogaholic and social media enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. She is a SAHM of five and a Girl Guide leader in addition to her multiple online endeavours.View more posts from this author
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