What is Google Plus? Is it a social media platform that’s a threat to Facebook or is there more to it than that? There’s a lot of confusion around Google Plus, Google Authorship, and how they fit into an SEO strategy.  This is the first of a four part series that will cover Google + Features, Google Authorship, Google+ and SEO, and tips to help you succeed on Google+. Today I’m going to try and clear up some of the uncertainty and highlight some of the features and benefits of the platform.

True confession, I joined Google Plus rather reluctantly. I figured the last thing I needed was to add one more thing to my “to do” list. The only reason I joined was because it’s part of the Google Authorship verification process. As it turns out, it’s become my favorite network and has been a great source of connections and business leads. Without further ado, here’s a quick tour of Google Plus. First things first.

What is Google +?

Google+ is a social media and networking service from Google. It’s is not a ghost-town as many believe, in fact it’s now the second largest social networking platform.

On Google Plus you can:

  • Share links, photos, videos, write commentaries and share events
  • Create a profile and populate it with both personal and business information
  • Hang Out and Chat
  • Promote their business and their personal brand
  • Participate in Communities
  • Search for information, communities, events, and people

Google Plus Features

Profile/About:

It would be a mistake if I didn’t take a minute to talk about the Google Plus profile.It’s easy to format your story so that it’s both people and search engine friendly.

 

Google Plus Profile Page - Feature your story and experience

You can modify settings and control who sees what. Let’s say you want to use your gmail address for people you’re connected to, but a business email for the general public. You get to choose which circles get to see the gmail address or you can hide it completely private.

Google Plus Profile Page - contact and education

 

Feature other social profiles to make it easy for people to connect with you across the web. The “contributor to” section displays links to the places you contribute content to. This is a key part of Google Authorship which I’ll talk about in my next post.

Google Plus Profile Page - Contributor to

Circles

Circles can be kind of confusing, so I would recommend that you start slowly and think about how you want to organize your connections before you start setting them up and filling them with people. There are a lot of different strategies for managing circles. The primary thing to keep in mind is that circles help you manage how you communicate on Google Plus.  You can organize circles by topics, relationships, or a combination. This makes it easy to share relevant content with a the right people and filter the content you read as well.

Google Plus Circles

Google+ Posts

Your Google Plus posts page contains the posts you’ve made and you can access them if you need to make an update or want to see what kind of activity there is. The little bell in the upper right hand corner is known as “Mr. Jingles” and his job is to let you know if you have any notifications. This is the launching pad for sharing text, photos, links, videos, and events.

Google Plus Profile Page

Google Plus is a good platform for long form posts and it’s not unusual to see people share the equivalent of a blog post, complete formatted titles and text. Google Plus posts are treated like any other content on the web. It’s indexed (and indexed quickly). Just like on Twitter (and sort of on Facebook) hash tags are the way you call out topics and help people find your stuff when they’re searching within the platform.

Google Plus Profile Page with Posts

One of the unique things about Google Plus is that people share a mixture of content. Facebook tends to be for personal use for the vast majority of users. LinkedIn is professional and it’s rare if ever that you see a personal interest type of post shared by someone. Google Plus on the other hand tends to be  a combination and it’s not at all unusual to see people sharing things from both their personal and professional worlds.

Post Activity

You can monitor the activity on your post and see who “plus one’d” or shared your post. The plus one is the rough equivalent to the Facbook “like,” but there are a few differences that make it a bit more powerful.

  • Who Commented
  • Who +1’d
  • Who Reshared

You can also:

  • Edit
  • Delete
  • Link post
  • Embed post
  • Disable comments
  • Disable Reshares
  • View Ripples

Google Ripples are visual representation of how far your post has traveled publicly on Google Plus.

Streams

This is like your news feed in Facebook and it defaults to posts from everyone you have circled. You can also filter content by unique circles.

Google Plus Posts Stream

Communities

You can find a Google Plus Community for almost any topic imaginable. Just like Facebook Groups, Communities can be public or private and you can use the search function to find groups that you might want to be invited to join. One of the key differences between a Facebook Group and a Google Plus Community is the ability to organize the discussions around topics and subtopics rather a single stream of posts.

Google Plus Communities

Events

You can set up, share, and invite people to real life events, online events (Hangouts on Air), or you can share photos with friends and family. Events are indexed, so if you do a good job of optimizing the event page, there’s a chance that someone could find it while searching for the topic.

Google Plus Events

Hang Outs

Google Hangouts are like Skype on steroids. You can have up to ten people in a single hangout and they can be private or public. Public hangouts are referred to as Hangouts on Air. They can be viewed live or saved for later. A videos with a transcript is automatically uploaded to your Youtube channel in real time. You can edit and optimize the video to create a great piece of evergreen content.  The video can be embedded on an event page and can be watched by anyone who finds the event page. (remember event pages are indexed). There are many applications for hangouts and they can be a great way to promote your business.

Google Plus Hangouts

We’ve covered a few of the major pieces of Google Plus. Next up we’ll cover Google Authorship and how it ties into Google Plus.

Update: Unfortunately I accidentally deleted my primary Google Plus account – I’m trying to recover it, but it’s not looking good. In the meantime feel free to circle me here and if my other account is restored I’ll sort things out then and make sure we’re still connected.

Until next time.

Cheers!