The Big 4 Bonus - Google+

Originally, the Big 4 didn’t include Google+. however, Google+ is now big enough for us to talk about it in a bonus section. Now, Google+ can have a really important place in your Online Marketing, with particular benefits to your Search Engine Optimisation.

Let me give you a few pointers related to what you’re going to do with Google+. First of all, as with LinkedIn, really work on your profile. Make sure that your profile is 100% updated and put in plenty of information. This is where Google is going to look to list you.

If you get this right then when people are searching for the things that you do, you’re going to come up in a Google+ search, as well as Google’s search. Make sure that you think of your profile as a really effective Search Engine Optimised page. Focus on the things that you do that other people might be searching for. A really important part of creating your profile is to make sure that there’s a photo in there. Don’t try and shy away and put some sort of cartoon as your profile picture. On Google+, it has to be a photo of you and it has to be of your face. Google’s really smart and has a facial recognition feature. This is also shown through the use of Google Authorship. So, make sure that it’s a good and professional face shot of you. If you have a look at my Google+ profile and you’ll see exactly that.

Once you’ve got your personal profile fully set up, you’re going to be eager to go and connect with people that you might know. Before you do that, I recommend that you go and set up 10 really useful posts. If you’ve added people to your circles before adding any content and as a result they look at your profile there won’t be anything to see. If you’ve got no content or no useful posts, what is the compelling reason for them to follow you? Create some really useful posts beforehand, so that when they come and have a look at your profile, they get to see what you’re going to be discussing and sharing on Google+.

While we’re talking about posts, remember that people really like it when you share their posts as well. This is networking; it’s not a platform for you to broadcast your message. Make sure that you engage with other people on Google+ and one of the best ways to do that is to share their posts. When you’re sharing their posts, it’s really useful and really effective to add your own comments. Unlike a re-tweet on Twitter, you can add your own comments to the post and share it.

Another great thing that you can do is +1 a post. This is like saying, “I like that post”. You’ve +1′d it, you’ve put your name on it and you’ve recognised that it is a good post. So, make sure that when you find useful and relevant content on Google+.

It may sound like Big Brother, but you have to accept that Google can see everything that you’re doing; your comments, your posts, the people that you engage with, the +1′s etc. For this reason try and make sure that they’re all relevant to the services and the products that you want to promote. Think back to your niche and make sure that everything ties together. If you’re trying to use your Google+, let’s say to promote your bakery, but all of your +1′s happened to be about Formula One, this will only confuse things. Remember this is a business marketing tool make sure that the vast majority of your posts and +1’s are all related to the area of business that you’re trying to promote.

What I really like about Google+ is how it is different to the other Social Media platforms. On Twitter, you can follow anybody that you like. On Facebook, they have to agree to connect with you. On Google+, it’s slightly different. It’s a merge of the two. On Google+, you can follow people, but you can also put them in to your Circles. Google+ is all about Circles as the main source of connecting with others.

What I want you to do is to have a look for relevant people, groups and pages that you want to follow on Google+. Add them into your Circles. It might be that you want to follow all of your suppliers or customers. You may want to follow all of your competitors and see what they’re up to. Put them all into your relevant Circles so you can share your posts with a certain relevant Circles. Take time to search for people related to what you do. I want to follow people who are talking about Search Engine Optimisation, Google Adwords, Pay-Per-Click, Social Media, Website Conversions, Web Design and related. So what are the topics that you would want to follow people for? Who are the people at the head of your industry? Who do you want to follow? Put all those people into your Circles.

Communities are another big thing on Google+. Go out there and find the Community that suites your business. If you can’t find one, it could be time to create one that brings together people with common interests.

On Google+, you can also have Google+ pages. These are much like Facebook fan pages and I urge you to go and create one of those for your business too. When you do that, make sure you verify it all with Webmaster Tools and link it to your website.  This way, everything’s connected and Google knows, “This guy who’s created this page, who shares plenty of good content on Google+, is also the creator or owner of this website”. It’s a fantastic way to work on natural Search Engine Optimisation through a social network.

Once you’ve got your page, you’ve got to promote that page as well. Maybe try a +”their name”, which works a bit like Twitter when you use the @ symbol. Use the plus sign and that will notify them that they’ve been mentioned them in a post. Make sure that you’re promoting your Google+ page and not just your profile on Google+.

Let’s move on to Google Maps and Google Places. When you see a local business showing up at the top of Google, typically a few listings that are indented and look different, they’ve got the map with a little icon. That was all to do with Google Places, but there is now Google+ Places and you want to make sure that you’re listing your business under Google+ Places. This is especially important if you’re a local business.

The next topic is Hangouts. Having a standard webcam allows you to talk to people over Google+ in what’s called a Hangout. You can invite people that you’ve already connected with on Google+ to your Hangout. Now, it became really interesting the minute they connected Hangouts with YouTube, because you can now post your Hangout on YouTube. Let’s say you did a Webinar; you’ve finished your talk, but you’ve recorded that on your webcam so you can now save it and share it on YouTube. It’s automated and simple to do because Google owns Google+ and YouTube. This is just one way in which the two are integrating, you’ll also notice for example how the YouTube comment sections are now powered by Google+.

So this has been a bonus section for Google+. However, I already think that Google+ is a necessity for driving your business forward. It might not have the same prominence as Facebook or Twitter, but it has weight. It’s fantastic as a social network and it’s fantastic for your natural search optimisation.