Ever since I became a content marketer, Google+ has been a bit of an enigma. At first, people questioned whether it would be a “Facebook Killer,” the social network to usurp Mark Zuckerberg’s throne. Shortly after, Google+ was called a “Ghost Town” when it failed to gain as many active users as expected. Now, Google+ seemingly occupies a new place in the inbound marketing world; its value is tied not to its reach or engagement but to its ability to influence Search Results.
Still, many professionals have no idea how to tap this resource to improve their search rankings. Thus, I present my 5 step guide to using Google+ for SEO. It is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great start and promises to make a quick impact on your SEO efforts.
Step 1: Optimize Your Personal Profile
One of the first things to understand about Google+ is that Personal Profiles currently seem to hold more weight in Google Search than do Company Pages, so properly optimizing your own Google+ Profile is very important. Google crawls and indexes the text in key places on your profile. Therefore, it’s helpful to include targeted keywords in as many of the following places as possible:
- Introduction – Write a detailed description of your professional persona that includes keywords potential clients may search for.
- Employment – List the name of your company and infuse your Position/Job Title with keywords if possible. For instance, I might list “B2B Marketing Consultant” rather than “Marketing Coordinator” as my position because more people will search for the former.
- Places Lived – This can influence your ranking in local search results.
- Tagline – It’s unclear how much weight Google’s Search Algorithm actually places on this, but it is the first thing people see of your profile and may be the difference between a click and a lost opportunity.
While the fields above are the most important in ranking Search Results, it is generally helpful to fill in as many fields as you are comfortable with when building out your profile. At the very least, be sure to link to your Company Website, Blog, and other Social Media Profiles in the “Other Profiles” and “Links” sections.
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Step 2: Establish Authorship on Your Personal Profile
Authorship allows you to link content written by you directly to your Google+ profile, and it’s generally thought to be invaluable in having your blog posts and articles found on Google Search. Its importance only grew when Google recently unveiled AuthorRank, which basically adds an individual’s relevance, engagement, and clout into the mix of items considered when ranking content.
What does this mean? All else equal, pieces of content tied to the name of a person who consistently publishes great content will rank far higher than other content. If you improve your AuthorRank by consistently publishing content that is well received, your content can dominate that of your competitors.
Step 3: Optimize Your Company Page
Having an optimized Google+ Company Page for your business seems most helpful in having your firm ranked in Google’s local search results. Consider the screenshot below, which shows a recent search for the term “Architects in Naples.” Three of the top four places are occupied by businesses with Google+ Company Pages, and a link to the Company Page is prominently displayed.
On a Google+ Company Page, there are three fields that seem to rank especially well on Google Search. They are:
- Page Name – This is the name of your company as listed on its Google+ Page.
- Introduction – Draft a detailed description of your company and its services, and infuse this summary with targeted keywords.
- Tagline – This is a single sentence or brief phrase describing your company in a nutshell. When writing this, keep in mind the most popular search terms prospective clients might use.
It’s also important (and somewhat self-evident) that you provide your company’s address, phone number, website, and other information, especially if you want to be included in localized search results.
Step 4: Build Out Your Circles on Personal AND Company Profiles
The basic tenet of Search Plus Your World, Google’s Social Search platform, is that the things important to friends, colleagues, and the celebrities/thought leaders you follow will also be important to you. This means that your content is far more likely to appear in a person’s search result if they are connected to you on Google+. So, developing Circles of targeted prospects is key to having your content found.
Building Circles on Google+ requires a long and consistent effort on your part, but I’ve come up with a few tips to get you started:
- Add a Google+ Social Sharing button to your homepage and blog.
- Encourage your employees to become active on Google+ and to invite their friends to your Company Page.
- Send an email blast to clients, prospects, and colleagues announcing your Personal Profile and Company Page and asking them to join you.
- Leverage your presence on other social networks to get the word out about your Google+ content.
- Follow thought leaders in your industry and engage with them by commenting, liking, and resharing their content.
- Consistently update your status and share new information.
Step 5: Share, Share, Share! (and Diversify Your Content.)
It is absolutely vital that you keep pumping fresh content onto both your Google+ Company Page and Personal Profile because Google Search places great emphasis on content that has been shared recently. Aim to update both profiles with fresh content twice each week, and do so more often if you have the time.
Naturally, it’s important to share your latest blog posts, videos, ebooks, press releases, etc… content on Google+, but you should also share more “permanent” content such as online brochures, service sheets, or even entire web pages. Marketri had success in doing this recently. We mentioned our page about Accounting Firm Marketing on Google+, and it ended up as the third result on Google Search for “accounting marketing.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on using Google+ for SEO? Have you been able to use the social network to improve search results for your blog or company website? Please let me know in a comment below!