How to Use Google+
In the simplest terms, Google+ is that search engine’s answer to the phenomenon that is social networking and it seems poised to take a real run at sites like Facebook and Twitter. The reason is that Google+ is really much more than just a social networking platform. In this article, we’ll look at some basic but important information about Google Plus.
Google prides itself on being the best search engine out there, with its aim always being to provide the most relevant content possible to web searchers. That’s why it should come as no surprise to learn that a main focus of Google+ is on content delivery, but with social networking added to the mix. And that’s how Google Plus is setting itself apart from other social networking sites.
Setting up their own social network is a natural progression for Google since it has been giving increased weight to social proof when it ranks webpages. Previously it relied on results from networks like Facebook to see which pages had received high approval. But Google also realized that social interaction was here to stay and wanted in on the action, so they decided to create their own network.
So should you bother with Google+ if you already have a Facebook account or are on Twitter?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Just think about it for a minute. On a worldwide basis, Google is used about 70% of the time for any web search being done.
That’s an awful lot of traffic for the taking. And wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that Google will send more traffic to sites that have the Google+ button displayed? Since traffic is the make or break factor to online success, you definitely need to bother with Google+.
How to Use Google+
Here’s how you can use Google+ effectively while drawing more traffic to your website.
First and foremost, be sure to have the Google Plus button prominently displayed on each webpage and don’t hesitate to encourage your visitors to “plus” your page if they found it useful.
The more “pluses” you get on a page, the better the chance that your page will be ranked more highly. As Google sees a page receiving lots of “pluses”, they will likely view the page as being very relevant and move it up the search results. This will then result in more traffic.
Along the same lines, if a person doing a search sees a page with lots of pluses or likes, that bit of social proof may be the thing that persuades them to check out your website instead of another. Again, this can lead to more traffic for you.
Second, be sure to take the time to fill out your profile since this displays your picture, your bio and other relevant information you choose to share. Once you have that set up, it’s time to configure your own privacy settings.
Google has done a much better job on the privacy issue than Facebook. They have done this in a very simple way – by allowing you to organize your friends or contacts into what they call Circles. When you add a post, you can then decide which of your Circles gets to view which information.
Unlike Facebook, just because someone chooses to follow you on Google+ doesn’t mean they get to see all your content. You can be selective. So for instance, if you are adding photos and talking about the great vacation you just took, you may want to include your family circle but exclude your work circle from viewing this.
But by the same token, you can also make any of your posts public, so the post can be indexed in Google and viewed by anyone, or at least anyone with a Google account.
Third, follow those who are involved in or well known in your niche area, as well as your friends and ask to be included in their Circles. Once you are in a few relevant Circles it’s important to be an active participant. It’s like commenting on a blog or posting in a forum. Be sure your comments add value, so others will be encouraged to follow you in turn.
Important Features of Google Plus
1. As mentioned above, Circles is possibly the single most important feature on the Google Plus network, in large part because of how privacy concerns have been handled.
2. But aside from Circles, another top feature of Google Plus is Hangout. With Hangout, you can do a live video chat with up to 10 people. What’s really exciting about this feature for marketers is the ability to live stream this chat and have it viewable by unlimited numbers of other people without the cost of using other services such as Go To Meeting.
Think of the opportunities you’d have to build your brand by offering free training sessions or webinars. Google + lets you do this.
3. Another feature is called Search Your World. One big advantage that comes with Google Plus is the scope of searches available to its users. Along with the standard search results that are returned when a search term is entered, now your personal results will include Google+ updates posted by people you follow.
Nothing is more relevant than results that are specific to you. Google has been big on personalizing search results in order to maintain their position as the number one search engine in the world. The Search Your World feature in Google Plus is just one more thing that is helping them stay on top.
4. Another interesting feature is the Sparks option. When you use Sparks, you don’t even have to leave the Google+ interface in order to search or share a spark. You’ll find it on the Google+ home screen, in the left sidebar.
The Sparks option allows you to do a custom search within the Google Plus network for information about things you are interested in, just by typing in a relevant keyword. Or you can simply look at what’s listed under each of the featured interest categories until you find something that ‘sparks’ your interest.
By the same token, you can also share the information you find with any or all of your Circles, or just with certain people.
5. For those who have Smart phones, there is a feature called Google Huddle. It allows users of both iPhone and Android devices to easily take part in group instant message chats, which is great when it comes to coordinating plans or discussing ideas together.
6. Lastly, although not a feature specific to Google+, it does deserve some mention. If you are user of other Google services like Gmail, or Google Drive, you’ll find it easy to access and integrate the information located in each of your Google services right to your Google+ account and visa versa. This can be a real time saver as well as being ultra easy and convenient.
Interacting On the Google Plus Social Network
As with any social network, Google+ is only going to be effective if you devote some time to it and produce high quality content. At the very least, be sure to respond thoughtfully when someone makes contact with you.
But to really get the most out of your Google Plus account, try to post regularly to your various Circles and when you are posting remember that this is a social network, so establishing relationships is important. That’s where the quality content plays such an important role.
Admittedly, Google Plus still has a way to go before it reaches the same level that some of the other social networks have already achieved.
But with Google getting the lion’s share of web searches, you can bet that choosing to use the Google+ brand of a social network will provide a real benefit to internet marketers. So, even if you already use Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to get started using Google+ sooner rather than later.