If you are a small business owner, then odd's are you have heard of Google Plus. If you haven't, then you need to lift the rock, crawl out from under it, rub your eyes and take in your surroundings.
Google Plus is not only one of the fastest growing social media platforms in existence right now, it is one of the most search engine friendly. Once in a while, you can find a company through one of their social media platforms before you find them through their own website. This is the beauty of social media, it expands you visibility. With Google Plus though, I expect to find much more of this in the future.
In the search results of tomorrow, more and more will you find a person or companies Google Plus page right a long side their website, or even before it. If the social media boom wasn't enough to get you on board, this last tid bit of insight should be.
How Do I Set Up a Google Plus Account?
If you have never set up a Google Plus Account before, then don't fret. It is quite simple. First things first, you will want to head over to plus.google.com and set up your free account. You will be prompted to input some personal information. If you are new Google Plus and want to set up an account for your business, first create a personal page for your personal Google Plus profile. We will talk business accounts later.
Once you have successfully created your profile, what do you next. Check out this video by flytenewmedia for an overview of how to edit your Google Plus profile.
I have created and updated my profile. What do I do now?
Here is where the fun stuff begins. I will give you some insights on how to optimize your Google Plus page for Google search. Throughout all of this, keep one thing in mind. The stronger your Google Plus page becomes, the better off you will be for search engine visibility.
1. Link your Google Plus account to your website and verify authorship
First you will want to log into your Google + profile page and click the "edit profile" button. Once there, scroll down to the section called "contributor to" and click it to edit the details. You will be prompted to input a website name and URL. This is where you will put in your company/site name and the URL of your website.
Next you will insert the following snippet of code into your website content body. Replace the sections in bold with two things. The first is the URL to your Google + profile page. The second is the name you use on your Google + Profile.
Once you have done this, you can use Google Webmaster Rich Snippet Tool to verify if the code was correctly installed. Simple type in your URL and hit enter. If you installed the code correctly, you should see your picture in the search results. You will also notice a "verified" message in green below the sample search result.
If all has gone well then you will notice (in time) that your search results will contain your Google + profile picture with a link to your Google + account. This helps to make you stand out from the other search results with plain text and shows that you are ahead of the game.
Bonus: experiment with different profile pictures to determine if any one picture has an effect on click through rates.
2. Create a follow link to your website from your Google Plus profile.
Within your Google Plus page, you have a section that is called "introduction" and within this section, Google allows you to include links that can have a great impact on your site. Google Plus Domain Authority is through the roof and the stronger your page becomes (larger circles, more shared content, etc) so to will your profiles Page Authority become stronger. The stronger your profile pages authority becomes, the stronger and more influencing the link becomes that points to your website.
Bonus: remember to make use of diverse anchor text and don't overload your introduction section with links. Keep it natural.
3. Take advantage of the editing capabilities in Google Plus.
Unlike other social media platforms, Google will allow you to edit old posts. This is particularly favourable for SEO. Let's say you have posted something that has gone viral. Or maybe even an industry influencer picked it up or a group of your peers have re-posted it. Once that post has picked up its legs, Google will allow you to go back and edit that post at any time. You can include a link to your website or tweak the content so that it is more opportunistic for your business during a time when the post is being shared.
Bonus: Don't be afraid to push your own content. Share it on other social platforms, email it to colleagues or friends, include it in a newsletter, etc. This may help to get the ball rolling. If it does get some attention and you do edit the post, don't overdo it. Remember that people were sharing the content that you posted prior to editing. Don't make them regret it by overhauling the message too heavily.
4. Make use of networking
Google Plus makes it very easy to get noticed. When you send a post directly to someone, mention them in your post or post to a specific circle or group (amongst many other things), the person/people you are targeting get notified. The take away from this is to be social and make new network connections. This is how you can grow you brand name and expand your brand presence.
Bonus: Don't annoy the person/people you are trying to get in front of. Just as easily as they notice you, so to can they block you. You have to remember that constant pestering borders on spamming and their is no bigger bad word than spam on the internet. Keep your outreach efforts subtle but persistent. Don't just post at someone or include someone in a post one time and hope for the best. Good things take time and effort so be sure to gracefully follow it up.
5. Optimize your title tags
When you post something on Google Plus, the first few words of the post are used in the title tag of the post. Utilize keywords at the front of your post based on what you are posting about. This makes your post more relevant when it is shared/viewed which should help out with click through rates and further sharing.
Bonus: Use tools like Google Adword Keyword Tool to help determine what keywords are most searched and how competitive they are. If you use this tool, remember to check off "exact" for your match type and un-check "broad" (left side of the page). This will give you stronger insights.
6. Integrate your website and marketing efforts
This is the last tip I have for you small business owners but it is certainly not the least. The goal of all this is to build a profile page and make it stronger. This will not only help with your branding but with your website search ranks. At the end of the day, your website is often you biggest advertisement you have so you need to ensure that your site is socially optimized. This allows people to find and share your content.
This goes for all social media platforms, not just Google Plus. Make sure you have links to your social media platforms and include share buttons where applicable. This does not only extend to your website either. Include social media calls to action in all of your advertising medium. I have seen social media calls on business cards, print advertisements, TV commercials, radio ads, you name it!
This accomplishes a few things but namely it lets people know that you are active (remember to actually be active) and that you are current. Active and current businesses gain much more credibility than those who look like they are dormant. If I am shopping for something online, I am much more likely to buy from the company who is up to date and who makes an effort to communicate with their customers than from the company who does nothing. The first company has created some trust in my eyes and if you are trusted, then you are worthy of my time and hard earned money.
Bonus: get in the habit of spending 30 minutes a day on social media. Even if you have nothing to post/comment about, at least get online to check out if anyone has questions for you or has commented about your company. If that has not happened either then use your time to catch up on the competition (whom you should follow), your customers (you can learn a lot about what they want simply by reading their material), and your industry (an up to date company is one that thrives).
As a small business owner, I understand how tough it can be to spend our time on social media platforms as our time is limited. I can also admit that times go by when I neglect my own social platforms so don't feel bad if you miss from time to time. With that said, this is why we want to make an effort to build a habit. Once you get into a rhythm, you will find it hard to go without.
Author: Matt Lacroix of Web6S