Google+ is increasingly becoming a social network that brands need to take notice off. Google look to be putting all their eggs into the Google+ basket and are playing to win. From aggressively rolling out new features to making Google+ part of their other properties, it seems the new kid on the block is here to stay. What follows is a quick guide on Google+ and the different areas you should take notice off. Think of it as your Google+ army knife :)
The Growth of Google+
Most people underestimate the power Google has when it comes to launching new products. The early chart’s showed Google+ grew a lot faster than both Twitter and Facebook, taking only 24 days to reach 20 million users.
Although it’s difficult to compare the growth of Google+ to Twitter or Facebook (whose growth was a lot more organic), the early figures were still pretty amazing. Since then Google+ has gone onto acquire 62 million users, with a quarter of these being added in December alone, with one analyst predicting it would end 2012 with 400 million users.
Top 5 Google + Updates so far …
The updates for Google+ have been coming thick and fast since it launched in July 2011. Here are 5 of the most important updates to date:
a. Google+ For Business
In November 2011 Google finally launched business pages for Google+ allowing brands to create their own pages. Google+ business pages provide a number of cool features that can help brands engage with their customers, prospects and fans, including
- Users can add a brand to their circles
- Users can engage with content posted by the brand (+1 it, leave comments, tag the brand in photos)
- Users can share the brand page with their circles (which is good if you want to build up followers)
- And through Hangouts, brands can conduct video calls with their customers and prospects, something Michael Dell does a lot
But wait, that’s not all, in December Google announced a number of other great changes for Google+ pages, which meant management of the page is lot easier as you can have up to 50 named administrators of that page. The page also now shows engagement metrics (people who have +1′d it and added it to circles)
b. Search Plus Your World
On January 10th Danny Sullivan wrote a post on Search Plus your World describing it as “their most radical transformation ever”. Google pushed Google+ into it’s core algorithm, with personal, social and private results now appearing for users logged into Google+ and searching in English. For example, here is what I see when searching for “link building” on Google.com:
You can see the little blue man indicating this is a personal result because I am connected to “Michael Lee Johnson” on Google+ and he shared this post.
This change has lead to some experts like Rand Fishkin declaring every marketer needs a Google+ strategy. When you see results like this for the search term “SEO”, you can see why Rand is so excited by it
This is what I see when I search for “SEO” on Google.com, Rand Fishkin and Danny Sullivan sitting above the PPC ads with a CTA screaming “Learn how you could appear here too”. When brands start to see competitors occupy those spots, they will be forced to figure out what their Google+ strategy is.
c. Integration with Gmail
Estimates in 2010 put the Gmail user base at 193 million and in December of 2011 Google released an update of Gmail that had now been integrated with Google+. One of the biggest changes being your circles from Google+ are available in your gmail account.
d. Google+ Hangouts Support Free Calls
In Dec 2011 (they really got busy in December) Google announced they would be adding free calls to hangouts. This could be a pretty awesome feature for businesses who use them to conduct conferences internally and with clients or prospects.
e. Find my Face
Ok, this may not be the most important update for businesses or the growth of Google+, but their “Find My Face” feature just sounds cool. This application uses face recognition to help tag people in pictures (if you turn it on).
5 Things to Start Doing Now on Google+
For most businesses, it’s impossible to keep up with the constant change in social media. Instead of losing focus trying to do everything, time is better spent focusing resources on the network that provides the most value to their business. In saying that Google+ shouldn’t be ignored. Here are 5 Google+ goodies you can implement straight away.
1. Google Authorship Markups
Implementing the Google rel=author tag and linking to your Google+ profile is a simple method of building trust for your site/brand and also increasing CTR’s in the SERP.
Just to confirm, this isn’t me I managed to screw up listings from this site and didn’t fix them in time for this post. Get Yoasts full guide here on how to implement these for your WordPress site.
2. Implement the +1 button
This is a really simple one, just add the Google+1 button to your content. You want to ensure people are sharing your content on the Google+ network.
3. Optimise your Google+ Page
Your Google+ should be optimised as per any other landing page that you expect to appear in the search results for relevant keyphrases. Here is a good pic of Colm’s Google+ profile with the important parts highlighted:
Keeping with Googles fondness of personal branding make sure you use your real name and stick up a decent pic that can be pulled into the SERPs.
Your name and your headline will be pulled in first so be sure to get your attributes and reasons for clicking on your list here. You will also see your occupation and current employer.
The links seem to be do-follow. Also, links from the “Other Profiles” and “Contributor” section are being pulled in to the rich snippets so take advantage of these.
4. Guest Posting / Speaking
If you are guest posting on high quality blogs for both link and traffic purposes, ensure to include your Google+ profile and a CTA to ask if people will add you to circles.
5. Segment Correctly
Make sure you use your circles to break users into correct interest groups. This will ensure you share the right type of content with the right type of audience.
25 Inbound Marketing Experts to follow on Google+
So, now you know a little more about Google+, why not get cracking with 25 inbound marketing experts to add to your circles:
1. Rand Fishkin
2. David Harry
3. Cyrus Shepard
4. Will Critchlow
5. Aaron Wall
6. Ian Lurie
7. Jason Acidre
7. HubSpot Page
8. Gianluca Fiorelli
9. Barry Adams
10. Kevin Gibbons
11. Danny Sullivan
12. Matt Cutts
13. Avinash Kaushik
14. Mike Wilton
15. Bill Slawski
16. Michael Stelzner
17. Darren Rowse
19. Lisa Barone
20. Rishi Lakhani
21. Lee Odden
22. Ann Smarty
23. Rae Hoffman-Dolan
24. Wil Reynolds