Too Many Businesses Forget Google+ Is a Social Platform. We Haven’t!

With less than 50 thousand employees worldwide, Google commands a more-than-impressive 68.65% global search market share. According to a report published by USA Today in October 2013, more than 500 million people socially interact with one or more of Google products each month.

While these figures do not necessarily imply that Google+ should be high on your priority list when thinking over ways to drive traffic to your website, the fact of the matter is that on the Internet, Google is ‘The Boss’ and Google+ happens to be  one of its darling projects.

You got the picture, right?

Backed by highly connected and converging services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google News, YouTube etc., Google+ has finally begun to produce results that internet marketers have so eagerly been waiting for.

The platform can now help you drive targeted traffic to a website as long as you get the most important part right – ENGAGEMENT. I believe that was easy to guess, right?

Since social engagement does not come naturally to all internet marketers or business owners attempting to market their websites on their own on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, its worth listing out a handful of tried and tested techniques here:

1. Get the Headline Part Right

Posts shared on Google+ are different from those on Facebook or elsewhere because they act like a separate blog post.

Yes, a G+ post even has a unique URL as we discussed in our last post – 7 ways Google+ can help improve search results for your business.

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Google picks the headline of a post as title tag and it’s this headline that shows up in search results.

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You’d always want a post to have a title tag, right? So make sure to always add a headline!

Do not just share links on Google Plus.

And since the headline would show up in search results, why not make it more appealing to the reader!

2. Make Your Text More Readable

There are some very useful Google+ formatting cheats that you can master in no time.

Whether you just want to add a headline and a trailing teaser or you intend to share long posts, correct formatting (bold for headlines, italics for subheadings and so on, for example) can draw attention and make your content more readable.

Takeaway:

  • For maximum engagement (and more traffic), you need to see that your Google+ posts stand out from the rest.
  • Formatting will help you achieve that to some extent. Try this!

3. Use the Powerful #Hashtag Feature

Google Plus semantically relates different topics to each other.

The best way to make sure that the content you share on Google+ becomes a part of such relationships and is therefore discovered by more people on the platform is to use #hashtags.

Let’s take a look at related topics of #DentalCare:

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Takeaway:

  • You see, #Hashtag associations on Google Plus are not random at all.
  • Google Plus will add Hashtags on its own if you don’t; so you better start doing it on your own.
  • Adding Hashtags means your posts will have more reach.

4. Socialize

Google+ communities can go a long way in helping you achieve the desired website traffic goals.

How else do you think your posts will be read, upvoted (+1s), commented upon or shared on the network?

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Takeaway:

  • Before people start following your page, profile or community on Google+, you’d have to first socialize on different communities.
  • Do not join dozens of communities at once but the few you join should be strictly the ones where you hope to find either your target audience or the people who are in the same niche that you are in.
  • Google recommends new communities on the basis of those you’ve joined already.
  • Meet the likeminded people, engage them and slowly, they will help you widen your social circle on Google+.
  • Be kind, share others’ posts, comment and do not hesitate to hit +1s; accumulate good social karma that will come back to you in future.

5. Targeted Sharing

Do not share everything with everyone on Google+. Create some circles such as

  • Family
  • Work
  • Dog lovers
  • Marketers
  • Best Buddies

Please note that the above listed circles are for demonstration only. You can use circles for targeted sharing.

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[Image Source]

Takeaway:

  • Avoid creating too many circles lest you want to spend few extra seconds on deciding what to share with whom.
  • Do not try to target each Google+ post.
  • Emailing a post to certain circles is risky; people may just start un-following you!

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6. Avoid Sounding like a Bot

This is a common rule applicable to all social media marketing efforts.

Do not continue to share content in a manner that those who follow or discover you in future get an impression that you’re merely posting tens of updates every day.

Be human and be awesome.

Takeaway:

  • Use your own words as and when possible at the time of sharing a link so as to ‘connect’ more with the target audience.
  • Do not hesitate to create long Google+ posts; you may even create completely unique posts just for Google+.
  • Avoid using technical jargon; don’t just use keywords – focus on your target audiences’ intent.

7. More Visual Appeal

You can share images (JPEG, PNG etc.) on Google+. Unlike Facebook, you can even share GIFs. Some of the most popular posts on Google+ are images.

 Takeaway:

  • Share relevant and catchy images with as many of your plain text posts (formatted with simple cheat codes).
  • Share GIFs as and when possible to engage more people; be selective. [This post, for example, had received 377 +1s and 13 shares at the time of writing this post]
  • If you’re sharing links, Google+ will automatically pick an image; ask your web developer to get open graph images right if the images fetched by Google+ are not the ones you want.
  • Learn about recommended sizes and dimensions for photos & graphics on Google+

8. Sprinkle Calls to Action

Whether your post is discovered by people on Google+ or it appears in search results, it links to the Google+ post directly.

 Takeaway:

  • If it’s a graphic you’re sharing with a catchy headline, add a call to action (tiny URL to a blog post, web page or offer) right next to it.
  • In case you are sharing links on Google+ with a headline and trailing teaser, you can still drop a URL by the end.
  • People who hit the ‘read more’ button to go through the remainder of your post may not click on the shared link but follow up on an explicit call to action at the end of a post.

 9. Integrate Google+ Comments

Just as websites today use Facebook comment plugins to increase engagement, you can use Google+ comments too. Officially, the feature is available only for Blogger but there’re some other way outs too!

Takeaway:

  • Like Facebook comments, G+ comments can also be shared on the platform.
  • Each post commented on by a reader (and shared on G+) will therefore be appearing in Google+ feed of all those who follow the reader.
  • Interact with people who use Google+ comments feature on your website. Also, add them to your circles.

 10. Advertising on Google+

If you’re just beginning with Google+ and want some quick results, you may want to promote some of your posts.

Here’s a quick demo of +Post ads on Google+.

Takeaway:

  • There’re no convincing reports on whether advertising on Google+ for greater social engagement is a good option or not.
  • Once your posts receive some traction through +Post advertising, they may continue to get shared on the network.
  • Experiment, measure results and proceed.

 11. Interactive Google+ Posts

Interactive G+ posts can be fully customized for the visual appeal and call to action.

Some of the most common actions that can be embedded inside an interactive post include

  • Accept an invitation
  • Buy an item
  • Install an application
  • Send a message
  • Reply to a comment
  • Sign in to a website
  • … and dozens of others.

Takeaway:

  • You can customize the visual presentation of a post
  • You can specific the call to action

 Final Words

Make sure to add Google+ badges to your blogs and websites so as to get your existing readership on the network.

Also, setup authorship for all of your authors; it’s a must.

Google+ isn’t exactly like Twitter and Facebook. While someone experienced in engaging people on a social network can almost certainly do well on G+, there’re a whole new set of techniques (including the most important ones we discussed above) that need to be mastered.

Are you using Google+ to promote your brand? Have you achieved any results so far? Let me know in comments below! You can also get in touch to discuss promoting your brand on Google+.

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