This is the first of three posts we’re publishing this month on Google+ marketing. Here we tackle Communities, SEO, Authorship, Authority and Hangouts. Our next two posts will explore Google+ Hangouts and Google+ Pages in more detail. Enjoy!
The first thing you need to grasp about Google+ is that it isn’t a ‘normal’ social media platform; it’s essentially the ‘social layer’ upon all of Google’s products and services. Because of this it really needs to be a vital part of your marketing arsenal. Here’s how and why you should be thinking about developing a Google+ marketing strategy.
In my opinion Google+’s communities are one of the best features of the platform. In essence they are an upgrade on the Facebook group. They are a great way to network with people and share high quality content.
Here’s a community that I run for Social Media and Community Managers. Using this community I can share my blog posts, or other people’s, in order to start discussions and ultimately attract more readers to my blog.
So, why are these communities so vital for marketers effort? Well, when used correctly they offer the perfect content delivery system. The key to using them effectively in your marketing strategy is the manner in which you approach them.
Firstly, good social media citizens don’t just drop links and run. Lay the groundwork first, get to know the community members and engage with them. This is all about building up trust between you and your potential customers. I spend a lot of time doing this in each community – and it really pays dividends later. You should also personalize your content for each community.
Secondly, you need to reach out to plenty of communities. As I mentioned before, it pays to interact with other members in each community – you have to be human – i.e. genuinely engaged – at all times. If you post the same link in twenty communities, you’re effectively spamming those communities, but if you post the same link with a valid, worthwhile and interesting comment – you’re engaging in twenty communities. There’s a critical difference.
Be aware of that, by default Google shows what you post to Google+ communities on you profile page. If you want to hide these posts you can do it by going to: settings > Google + > profile, then un-check the box which reads ‘Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile’ (see below).
One of the great and unique aspects of Google+ is the wonders it can do for your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO). Traditional SEO methods still have a place in marketing but, increasingly, search engines are taking into consideration the social signals you emit and receive as a way of ranking your website. This is especially true in the case of Google+. Here’s why…
Engagement – i.e. interactions on your content inside G+ (+1’s, comments and shares) tell Google that this particular bit of content is good, and therefore should be ranked well. For example, I publish an article on my blog and then share it on Google+. The engagement on that post in Google+ will give that article positive SEO ‘juice’. Increasing the likelihood it will rank higher in Google’s search engine rankings. Furthermore, if people in your Google+ Circles recommend a website or article through their interactions on Google+, this will rank higher in your Google search results.
Every time you are mentioned on Google+, e.g ‘+Daniel Banks’, this creates a link from the person mentioning you back to your profile. There is also a link section in your Google+ personal profile (shown below) in which you can state which websites or blogs you contribute to. By telling Google that you are the author of this content it will also create a back-link from that website or blog to your Google+ profile. All of this contributes to giving your blog/website an SEO boost.
Authorship is the flagship of Google’s social media and SEO crossover strategy. By adding authorship to your website through the use of Google+ you’ll not only receive an SEO boost, but your picture will appear on the search engine results page, increasing the likelihood that people will click through to your site (see below).
Perhaps the hardest part of Google+ to master is Authority, but it might also be the most fruitful opportunity. Essentially, Authority is the act of telling Google that you and your content deserves to be ranked highly because of your online reputation. Authority is based on the number of interactions your profile and content receives, the number of people who have you in their Google+ Circles, and how frequently you use Google+. Becoming an authority isn’t easy and it certainly takes time, but if you achieve it then the marketing rewards could be significant.
Google hangouts are a great way of increasing brand awareness. The reason for this is simple: YouTube integration. As you may know YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine behind Google and video ranks extremely well in search engine results.
With Google hangouts you can live stream to YouTube – and when this happens your videos appear higher on YouTube’s search results pages. Hangouts are also one of the best trust-building tools. After all a lot of online marketing work involves being human and trustworthy to your potential clients. There’s nothing better at delivering this than showing them a video of you demonstrating your expertise.
Here’s a great example of a Google hangout. It also shows Hangouts can increase your Authority and how Google+ benefits your SEO efforts.
A final word of advice… when you’re using Google+ for marketing it’s important to remember one thing: don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You won’t reap any significant rewards unless you commit an initial burst of time and effort to this platform. Remember that everything you do is tracked by Google, so make sure you interact and engage with plenty of other Google+ users out there.
We’ll be discussing Google, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, plus marketing strategies and techniques at (London) on 24th October. Early bird tickets are on sale now.