INCREASING WEBSITE TRAFFIC AND CREATING MORE LEADS
There are still many questions being asked by business owners about how to use Google+ effectively.
- Can you use it to increase your website traffic?
- How do you leverage G+ with your other social media platforms for maximum exposure?
- Can Google+ be used to attract and even convert leads in your Inbound Marketing strategy?
- How do you use Google+ circles and communities to their maximum potential and create real connections, as well as promote your brand?
The answers are yes, it can be done, yes, and let’s get creative!
Google+ is its own social media presence, has its own type of users and its demographics are great for targeting other businesses as well as potential clients. Setting up your page is pretty easy. The biggest takeaway from research on G+ is that it’s a great place to experiment and play with your Inbound Marketing efforts. It is the Wild West of social media.
Now let’s take things even deeper.
POSTING ON GOOGLE
There is definitely an art to the Google+ post. The magic is to experiment, play around a little and see what works best for your business.
Pictures, Videos and Other Visuals
Pictures and other visuals like videos are a must on G+. As with any social media platform, they will get your post noticed and add some energy and excitement to your content.
Experienced Google+ users also know that dropping your images or visuals into a post first is important. If you write out your post first (especially if it has more content), the option to add an image sometimes goes magically away.
You can drag and drop or you can upload a file from your computer. The same goes for video.
You can also choose to upload a picture from your Google+ photo collection.
As previously stated, make sure you add your visual first, and then add your content. You can always edit the picture after you post to make sure it’s exactly the way you want it.
Michael Shervington has done a fabulous job researching Google+. He asked them why certain pictures were appearing so big in the stream and why others were not. Their reply? “These larger posts are frequently high resolution photos and videos. A variety of factors determine what becomes an enhanced post in your stream but we try to surface content and people that we think you wouldn’t want to miss.”
The takeaway from Shervington’s article is to add high resolution images to your posts; they are (probably) more likely to be added to a stream.
Adding a Link
Embedding links and videos into a post is also pretty easy. These visuals can increase your audience and click through rates to your website or blog.
If your website has a blog, then adding links in many of your posts will also increase your web footprint. In addition, adding pictures to posts first, then adding links later, is a better way to build your audience in the beginning. This builds trust in your brand and content. Then they will head over to your blog.
Excluding Sharing and Comments from Posts
What if you have some content that you want to share exclusively with no comments and no shares from your circles? It is rare, but there are times you might want to restrict your content from being spread across Google+.
Click on the arrow at the corner of the post. You can disable sharing or commenting, or both.
Creating Basic Posts
Google+ doesn’t make it very easy to add engaging content from a visual standpoint. Unless you add a visual that you have put content within (which won’t be picked up in search results), adding color and different fonts isn’t an option.
However Google+ does make some options available:
*BOLD* – add asterisks around either side of a word
_ITALICS_ – adding underscores around either side of a word
-STRIKETHROUGH- and adding a dash around either side of a word
You can also add a + before someone’s name (+theirname) to highlight a certain circle member, social influencer or company member in your post. Remember that they will receive notification, especially if you send it within a circle you have included them in. They might welcome the addition of their name to your post. They might not. Use the +name feature sparingly for people you don’t know.
How to Engage with Google Posts
Good writers and bloggers have many tools in their belt for creating content that invites a reader in. Here are some of the basics for engaging your reader on Google+:
- Add bullet points or numbers. This makes your content easier to scan.
- Mention people in your post. This is a valuable community tip, builds relationships and appreciation.
- Always edit your posts for spelling, grammar, formatting, etc. How can someone trust your brand and share your content if it just looks bad?
- Keep your posts at a relevant length depending on what you are writing about. If they are too long, people are not going to share them
- Use headings, hashtags and again, make sure your content is valuable to the reader. If you put a post in the “Car Lovers” Community about how your company can help them with keeping their books, it is not going to get read, and you might just get a slap on the hand – or worse
- When writing your posts, humanize your company and try to add a personal element to your content. This will make you seem like more than a bunch of words on a screen with a logo.
Optimizing Your Posts for Greater SEO
If your company is using any kind of inbound marketing theology, then you have chosen keywords that pertain to your industry and optimize your efforts for SEO. Use these when writing your content.
The first words in your post are going to be treated as your title. So make sure that the first few words of each post contain at least one of your keywords. The content of your post will also be searched for other keywords and for value by search engines.
Google is going to index it all in their SEO process. If you overuse keywords, your page might lose ranking. If you put up content that is not valuable, that doesn’t get engaged with, or that never gets a +1, Google is going to take this into account as well.
The Public vs. the Private Post
Everyone can see a post that you make public. Everyone, that is, who sees your content, or searches for it on Google.
In his “Ultimate Guide to Google Plus Posts”, Michael Shervington states that “When content is shared publicly you will often find it has the greatest ‘reach’, even leading to some content going viral as well.”
This is completely different than sharing within your circles, but should be added to your posting and sharing routine.
Private posts are made to certain people in your circles.
Analyzing Your Posts
Are you using an automation program to measure your reach and visibility? Are you using a free platform like Google Analytics?
Whatever you are using, if obtaining more website traffic and getting more leads is your number one priority, then tracking your posts on G+ is all about the +1, comments and shares you receive.
Other platforms have their peak times of day, message types and other quirks. With Google+, just add the +1 to the formula.
It might seem a little complicated, but it looks something like this:
- Which posts got +1’d?
- Which posts got shared?
- Which posts got a combination of the two?
- Which posts got comments?
If a post gets lots of +1’s, then maybe the content is relatable to the reader, but too high in “social risk” to share.
If a post has a lot of shares, but no +1’s, your post is highly relatable and readers want others in their circles to know about this information!
If your post has comments in it, then your readers are engaged.
As a business, you are looking for a good mix of all of these.
Shervington also noted an affect known as “Ripples” when it comes to posting on G+. Ripples show how a post has spread on G+. Taking a look at who has shared your content and making time to thank them, especially in the beginning, is going to create stronger connections to your brand. You can also add people who have made comments or shared your content to your circles.
He also notes that if an “influencer” in a relatable network picks up the post (someone who has G+ cred) shares your content, this adds to the social status of your post. In our previous article on G+ we made a point about Social Proof. If a G+ influencer gets in on sharing your content, social proof shoots up and so does a post’s shareability and engagement.
The Googlerithm takes all of your +1’s, comments, shares and even the addition of social influencers into account when ranking your website. Evidence also shows that having social influencers in the mix is a great way to increase ranking.
But it won’t happen overnight.
What automatically gets added to the Googlerithm? According to Shervington, posts from your profile and Google+ Pages can, Community posts can, as well as videos and presentations.
He also states that longer posts are not as likely to get added, but he begins by creating a short post and adds to it later to get around the glitch.
Tracking the analytics and drawing from what works for your business page is what should drive your future posts and experiments.
There are as many communities to join on G+ as you can possibly imagine. We recommend doing a little research before you go and join hundreds of communities on the platform. First – it will make posting and sharing more difficult. Second – it is going to clog up your stream if you don’t filter some of them out.
Pick and choose the communities that you join as they relate to your business, its interests and your own areas of expertise. You will be able to post relevant comments and share your content in most communities; however, we also advise that you don’t use communities just as a place to dump your content.
Engaging in your well-chosen communities is important and most of them have strict guidelines for how, what and where you share.
For instance, some communities have different areas to share specific content, as well as areas to promote your business and even areas to create and publicize webinars or events you might be having. Make sure that when you post to a community that it’s going show up in the right place, or you could find yourself kicked out altogether.
You can post to one of your communities from your own profile, or from within the community – which we recommend. That way you can tailor each post to fit the individual community and keep your content from looking like spam.
You won’t be able to share to a community and to the public stream at the same time, because, as we stated before, most communities have sharing guidelines to follow. Help them to maintain the integrity of their community by making appropriate posts from the right places.
This is the area of Google+ where your business posting can have the most impact.
The G+ Circle is a new and different way to categorize your contacts, share information, see status updates and see the content of others.
When you create your Google+ business page, the way to organize your circles is going to be very important in how you share your information. There are default circles to choose from. When you begin to share information as a business, who you share certain information with is going to hopefully be a part of your Inbound Marketing Strategy.
Remember that when you add someone to a circle they will be notified; but not which circle you added to them to. When creating and organizing your circles you can also choose which ones you see in your stream.
Jared Abrams wrote an article about Google+ circles and says that “Every single person I add goes into either Family (blood relatives), Friends (people I’d invite to my birthday party), Acquaintances (people I know or have at least conversed with online or IRL), Followers (people who have added me, but I don’t know who they are) or Following (people that I have added so I can follow them, but they don’t know me). That pretty much sums up all the relationships I have in the world. Some of those people also go into Clients. Then out of those people they mostly also fall into the Photographers, Filmmakers or New Media circles.”
The point of his circle organization is that he knows when he posts a new blog article about the film industry, he knows just who to target within his circles. He understands that his camera friends might get a little confused if he posts something about a friend’s birthday party under the wrong circle. Abrams also adds that there is no better reason to unfollow someone who constantly sends out irrelevant posts.
One last great point that Abrams makes in his article is that as a Google+ member, you will be followed by people you don’t even know. They might be interested in your business, your writing, or something completely different. Whatever the reason is, each and every follower gets followed back and categorized as Following.
Categorizing circles is also a great way to guide leads through the nurturing process.
When you first start creating your circles on Google+ think about your Lead Nurturing Process (link to article). Who are you trying to attract, who is ready to convert and who is ready to make a purchase. Each person is at a different place in the buying cycle and should be receiving different information.
You can make a circle for “Visitors” and add people who you have analyzed and tracked as having clicked through to your site one time via an article you placed on Google+. This circle is a great group of people to send quality informational material about your industry that can help them make a decision when they choose to make a purchase.
You can create another circle for “Qualified Leads”. These people have probably already been in your “Visitors” circle and have visited your website more than once. They are further down the marketing funnel and require a different kind of value from the information they receive.
Then there are your “Customers”. These are the people you want to continue to delight and bring back to your site for information and future purchases.
The analytics and show you all of this information. When you come across new and potential clients on Google+, think about whether or not they fit into one of these categories.