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Why Google+ is important to your business: a super duper guide

Mack Web has been focusing on helping businesses understand that social media is not just asking your customers on Facebook what their favorite color is (all day long).  We want companies to understand that social media is a powerful tool that can be used to build relationships, community, and online visibility that can assist in reaching business objectives. But this can only happen if you’re willing to put in the work, be consistent, and provide something of value.

We think Google+ is a great place to build your online community and social media presence. Last week, we invited a small group of local business owners to a lunch & learn at Mack Web so that we could help them better understand why Google+ is important to their businesses.

We don’t have a conference room big enough to invite all of the businesses that would benefit from this knowledge, so I’ve provided a detailed break down of my presentation here. You can also download the slidedeck.

Without further delay:

I’m here to tell you that you’ve got to get in there. Yes. It’s true. It’s time to stop hiding from Google+ (and social media in general) and start using it effectively.

I’d like to teach you some stuff about Google+ so that you can start making it work for your business. We use it for our company and we think it’s super duper.

There are so many reasons to be on Google+. I will do my best to highlight a few.

This means that you have the opportunity of greater exposure for SEO. Facebook is different. All content shared on Facebook is closed and only available within the network (this content will not show up on the SERPs).

Por ejemplo (that’s for example for all you gringos):

AJ Kohn posted on his Google+ wall something about how email click rates were dropping. So, let’s say you did a search for email click rates dropping. AJs post actually comes up in the results:

Note to self: Use Google+ for more exposure.

And another reason to be on Google+:

When you integrate keywords in your posts on Google+, it increases your chances of being returned in the results for a search on that subject. You can also integrate hashtags to follow the conversation about that specific topic on Google+ (told you. It’s super duper).

Don’t stuff your posts with keywords. Just make it natural. Use keywords and hashtags to provide more accessibility to the information that you’re offering to your community.

Reason to use Google+ for your business #3:

When you do a search (as a logged in user), you will see what the friends from your network liked/didn’t like based on their reviews and +1s.

This example is a little more related to local, but it’s also a great way to show how Google+ integrates everything about your search experience. When you search for [eating out fort collins] the results returned include reviews from the people who are in my network.

Hint: if you add people to your network that you really want to notice you, you will receive this type of data about them. This is a great way to stalk them. I mean, authentically find out things that might help you forge a relationship.

Reason #4 to use Google+ for your business:

Google+ is completely integrated with other Google products like search, local, events, reviews, and hangouts which makes it easy to utilize these features while you’re on Google+. Google is really working to provide a unique experience with search.

And another reason:

There’s a ton of features on Google+ that make it a pretty awesome tool. It is very different and much more robust than the other social networks.

So…

…you need to do some stuff.

See all this stuff in the about section of your Google+ profile?

Complete it! Don’t leave anything blank (unless you really don’t have the information).

And, make sure you:

Especially for SEO purposes, you want to make sure you’ve completed your name (which is actually the SEO title) and that it is your real name for branding purposes. Don’t use a nick name (unless it’s part of your brand).

Also, the tagline portion of your profile is really important. Be diligent with this one:

This is the meta description that can aid in conversion, so make sure you’ve got that completed and that it helps to very quickly tell people why they would want to click on you.

Next is the introduction field:

This is where your bio will go. The first sentence may also show up on the SERPs, so be selective about the text that goes there (mine’s a little long, but that’s how I roll).

Also, you have the opportunity to integrate links back to important pages on your website, so use them. Even those links can include keywords. Just make sure it’s organic (not stuffed).

You’re not done yet. There’s still  a couple more fields you need to complete.

Add your other social profiles like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, or even to other important pages that provide more information about you. I’ve included a link to a page on our website with some video and slide decks from speaking engagements.

All you have to do is click on the “add custom link” and the icons from the other social media outlets will automatically populate:

And lastly on your Google+ profile:

This field is where you can feature your own blog or even other blogs where you are a contributor. It’s just like “Other Profiles” field. You just click on “add custom link” and add your URL and description.

The “Contributor to” field is also imperative to properly setting up your rel author, so make sure you complete this portion of your profile as it will allow your page and photo to come up in search results related to blog posts you’ve written. Clearly this aids in conversion and helps to build trust and brand awareness.

Once your profile is all set up, you can move on to using some of the other really great features of Google+.

Like:

The super cool thing about videos is that you can film them right from Google+ just by using the camera on your computer. Once you record them, the videos are stored on your account and posted on your profile (click on the Videos tab).

You can also choose to post them on your wall and share them with your circles (and certainly, you have the opportunity of being returned in a search result).

Ok, now for one of my favorite features on Google+:

Before you get in there, you’re probably going to read our Comprehensive(ish) Guide to Google+ Hangouts. It’ll tell you everything you need to know, but it’s so easy to start a hangout. After you click on “start a hangout”, you select who you want to hangout with:

You can choose to make the hangout private, or select the “enable hangouts on air” which will allow access to the public.

When you’re hanging out, you can send notes to the group through chat, invite more people to join, do a screen share, even put a crown on your head with Google Effects. Really awesome tool and it’s all free!

And when you’re hanging out with people, it will show on your wall to let your circles know who you’re hanging out with:

So those are the basics to setting up your account in Google+ and the tools you can use.

But before you do that:

People are going to come check out your profile and you will want to have some valuable posts on your wall so that people can see what kind of stuff you share and want to follow you.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be just your content. We like to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time share really great content that you find on the web. Post it on your wall (and tag those people in your post so they know you’re talking about them) with some key takeaways (tell your audience why it’s valuable). 20% of the time feature your stuff or your company’s stuff (as long as it is providing value and not just shameless self promotion). Don’t just promote your services. Share a process, piece of knowledge, some expertise. Remember, you’ve got to be providing value.

I tend to get the most engagement when I’m being authentic, genuine, and transparent. People like to know what you’re struggling with, what you’re having success with, etc. Be brave and show who you are.

Once you’ve got some good stuff on your wall:

Go circle them. Read the posts on their wall and circle the people in their circles that you find interesting. You can also search for people in the search field at the top of the screen to find them on Google+ and add them to your circles. Build your community by posting great stuff and providing value.

Once you find people you want to circle, all you have to do is click on the “Follow” button.

You will then be asked which circle you want to place them in. This is what is so great about Google+. You can segment the people you’re following into specific groups. When you click on the “Circles” link in the left column, you can view the people who are in your circles. You can then organize them and even share them with others.

So once you’ve got your peeps in order, now you’re ready to start engaging.

Comment on other people’s posts. Provide more than just, “this is great.” Tell them why. Share their content, +1 their posts. Engage with them and you might encourage them to add you to their circles (and make a friend in the process).

Another very important feature about Google+ is that you have the ability to:

AJ Kohn wrote the book on this. Here’s some of the stuff that I’ve learned from AJ on formatting my posts on Google+:

AJ usually uses a bold heading (use the * at the beginning and end of the heading* to make it bold), formats a snippet from the feature article in italics, and then gives his take. Sometimes he also includes hash tags to follow the conversation. It’s kind of like thinking of Google+ like a mini-blog.

But no matter what you do with your posts on Google+ (or other social media outlets for that matter):

After you create your presence on Google+, make an effort to stay in there. If you really want to build your online community, you have to make it part of your routine. You have to share value, engage, and be present in your community.

There’s another very large feature of Google+ that we haven’t discussed:

Google Places has become Google+ local, so you can control your business listing in here. What you really want to do is:

Of course there’s a lot more to local search than geography, quality, and reviews, but if you get those basics down, you’ll be on the right track.

Notice how when you (or your customers) are searching from your mobile device for a local business, your results are specific to your current location (that’s why your phone is always asking you if you want to “allow” your location). Google cares about your geography so that they can provide you with the most relevant results in your current geographic area.

And, a bonus about Google+ is that when you search for local stuff, you will also see people in your network who reviewed those places so you know what your friends liked.

Another important aspect of Google+ Local is:

When Google is retrieving results to return for that local query, they are sifting through Google+ Local profiles of all of the businesses in the area. The more complete the business listing, it’s possible that it is more likely to come up higher on the list of results.

Side note: if you had a Google Places listing, make sure to go through the necessary steps to claim it for Google+ Local. This will allow you to fully complete the profile for your business.

Also, remember the user here. Provide photos of your business. This is especially important if you are a restaurant or retail establishment. If your company provides more of a service (like Mack Web), you could include photos of your team or your office space. Your task is to show how your business is unique. This will help your customers most of all, and it may help drive more traffic as the more enticing your listing is, the more it will aid in conversion.

With Google+ Local, you definitely want to focus on reviews:

 

Reviews are probably the most important factor in the local equation for two reasons: they help Google understand that the business is viable and trafficked, and it gives the customer confidence in using that business based on recommendations in reviews.

Your job is to cultivate 5 reviews of your business (and you want your reviews to be authentic and genuine–not from the same IP address or all on the same day–so that they help make the sale for you).

Having 5 reviews will help boost your rankings. Write a personal email to your customers and ask them to provide a review. In order to make this convenient, send them the link directly to the page where they can write this review (you could even consider offering an incentive).

Also, something really important about reviews:

If your business receives a review, positive or negative, engage with the customer providing the review. If the review is positive. Thank them for the review and tell the you appreciate their patronage. If it happens to be negative, address the situation with integrity and character. How you handle the negative review in public reflects on your business.

No matter what you do with Google+ Local, remember this:

And actually, this doesn’t just apply to local. Be a real business (and a real person for that matter). Focus on customer service. Ask them for feedback and actually listen to what your customers need (and then give it to them). Reflect this on your website and when you’re working with the client in person.

And for your intellectual gain, here’s some resources about all of this stuff:

Google+ resources from Mack Web

Google+: It’s not just for engineers. It’s for your business, too
The comprehensive(ish) guide to Google+ hangouts
Google Places is now Google+ Local

General local search stuff

The importance of Google+ Local reviews
Local search ranking factors

Other Google+ stuff

Google+ SEO
How to implement rel author
How to optimize 7 popular social media profiles for SEO
Google+ vs. Facebook
The beginners guide to Google+

 

Author Mack Fogelson

More posts by Mack Fogelson

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