When Google+ first launched 15 months ago, many businesses scrambled to hop on board while drooling over the SEO potential of a combination search engine/social network. Yet, despite that initial fervor, many are still missing the boat on some of the most basic SEO opportunities Google+ offers. If your Google+ page is sitting dormant (or if you never signed up), use the tips below to turn your Google+ page into the SEO powerhouse you envisioned.
Set up Your Author Tag and Use a Quality Photo
As a Google+ user, you have the opportunity to take advantage of the author tag feature, which instantly gives you more visibility in SERPs. By taking the trouble to set up a Google+ account, inserting the tag, and getting verified by Google, you’ll automatically see a boost in your search rank. Additionally, your author photo will appear beside all your listings — instantly giving you credibility and inspiring interest. Even if your link is farther down on the results page, you might still attract more attention than topped ranked, text-only listings.
That said, the quality of your photo can make all the difference. For best results, choose a picture that clearly shows your face (don’t be afraid to get up close — it makes you and your content seem more “real”). Also, choose an image that makes you look pleasant, and stick with a plain background (the focus should be on you).
Quality inbound links are never easy to come by, yet with Google+ you can essentially give them to yourself for free. How great is that!? Of course, you don’t want to go overboard with this, but some ideal places to work-in links to your other web properties are in the introduction section of your Google+ “About” page and in your day-to-day posts. Consider linking to your online bio, your website, your blog postings, and even to your profile on other social networks.
Naturally, the value you get from these links will vary depending on the authority and rank of your Google+ page, so it’s worth the effort to build your page’s reputation. And one of the quickest ways to do that is by having your posts shared and +1’d — so, make sure you’re offering share-worthy content.
Take Advantage of Editing Features
Many social networks (Twitter, Facebook) offer little to no editing capabilities, which means if you need to change something you generally up deleting the whole post. That can waste a lot of time, mess up the flow of your timeline, and erase any SEO benefits you already earned from the post — what a bummer.
On the other hand, Google+ lets you use your page more like a blog by giving you full editing powers at any time. Perhaps the other networks don’t want you going back to “change” history, and while there’s something to be said for that, Google+’s flexibility makes more sense from an SEO standpoint. For instance, posts on other social networks tend have a short shelf life as they quickly become outdated, but with a Google+ post, you can continue to update it, add media, and include other elements to keep it relevant. That way it continues to deliver SEO rewards to your page and links.
Add Content to Google+ for Quick Indexing
Remember the days when you’d post new content and wait impatiently, checking and rechecking, to see if the all-powerful Google bots finally decided to index your post? Well, with Google+, you’re no longer entirely at their mercy as you can put your content on the fast-track to indexing just by sharing it on your page.
Part of Google’s goal is to offer the latest, most up-to-date information, and this is especially true for those in its network. So, to adhere to its own objectives, anything +1’d must be instantly indexed and categorized.
Write a Great First Sentence
The first sentence of your post is important in its own right (it grabs people’s attention and encourages them to read on); however, with Google+ it’s even more vital since it plays double duty as your title tag. Thus, it’s likely going to be the first thing people see and the main deciding factor in whether they choose to click on your link or not.
Ways to optimize your first sentence/title tag:
• Use keywords (this is SEO, after all).
• Be relevant to your post and your readers (no rambling — get right to the point).
• Make it obvious what the post is about without giving away everything (you want to spark curiosity).
Interact with Influencers
Granted, all the major social networks present opportunities to connect with influencers, but Google+ seems to make it especially easy to make your presence known. In fact, it has a list of 17 things you can do to direct a notification (about you) to someone else.
Some of the 17 things are common to most social networks (mentioning them in a post, sharing with them directly, commenting on their post, tagging them in a photo, etc.), but here are a few of the lesser known triggers:
• Comment on a post/photo after they comment on it
• Suggest new people to add to their circles
• Suggest a profile photo for them
• Start a conversation with them (seems so simple, yet often overlooked)
• Send them an invitation or update an event
• Performing any action on an event they created
Just remember to make all your interactions casual and natural (not spammy or stalker-ish), or you’ll just end up scaring people off or being banned.
Track Data with Google+ Dashboard
When it comes to SEO, the more information you have the better. So, even if you use other analytic programs, the Google+ dashboard still offers some useful metrics worth paying attention to.
From just one page you can track important data, such as overall site visits, on-site social actions, revenue per visit, new visitor acquisition from social, and more.
In addition to the dashboard, you can also chart the growth of your page/posts by entering your Google+ URL into the CircleRank tool. It’s a simple way to see how you’re progressing and, of course, compare your profile to others’.
With about 400 million users, Google+ has about half as many members as the social giant Facebook. On top of that, only about 25% of Google+ members use the platform once a month. While these statistics might seem like cause to not bother with the network, in actuality, it means you still have time to join and reap the benefits of a relatively early adopter.
Yes, Google+ is still growing (rapidly) and, with all the advantages listed above (and more), many of those signing up are businesses guided by savvy SEOs — so, stake your claim now to get a jump on the competition.