The 2013 Google+ Marketing Guide

Since its launch in 2011, Google+ has been growing non-stop and now has 359 million active users according to Business Insider. There also have been a lot of changes made in their platform during that time. In this post, we’re going to look at everything you need in order to have a successful Google+ experience.

Setting up Your Personal Profile

If you have a Google account for other services like Gmail, Analytics, Webmaster Tools, YouTube, or other Google services, then you may have a Google+ profile already. To find out, sign in to your main Google account through one of the services you use and then visit Google+. If you do not have a profile, you will see the following screen.

join google plus

You will want to create your Google+ profile with the Google account you use most often. Do not use an email address that isn’t yours (such as an email for your workplace or college) and do not use an account you share with others, as this will be your personal profile.

Now, let’s look at the most important elements of your personal Google+ profile.

Cover Photo – Cover photos on Google+ profiles and pages are huge – 2120×1192 pixels to be exact. This means you must have a high quality, high resolution image that best represents you. Google+ does offer some stock photos to choose from, but you don’t want to be one of the thousands using the same colorful paper, bubbles, etc. that everyone else is using.

Story – Under your profile About tab, you have several sections of information to fill out. The first is your story. This is where you fill in your tagline, introduction, and bragging rights.

google plus story

These pieces of your profile are important. Up to 77 characters of your introduction will show up in Google+ search results when people are searching for others who have particular keywords in their profiles. The snippet of your introduction used will be the part that most closely matches the keywords searched.

google plus search results.png

Since your links appear further down your profile, you can use the introduction section to hyperlink to your most important websites.

The tagline is important because it shows up in regular search results listings.

google plus tagline search results

Work – The work section allows you to add information about your current occupation, skills, and employment.

google plus work section

The most current employer you list will show up next to your profile photo at the top, so make sure the information is up to date. The same goes for your education section.

Places – If you would like people to know where you have been and where you are now, add those locations here.

google plus places

Your current location will be shown next to your profile photo at the top.

Basic and Contact Information – In these sections, you can give as much (or as little) information as you choose. Basic Information allows you to share your gender, networking goals, birth date, marital status, and other similar data. Your Contact Information allows you to share your email, phone, physical address, and other contact information. Note that if you use a few different email addresses and you want people to find you through them, then you should include them in your contact information.

Links – Your links section is divided into three groups: Other Profiles, Contributor To, and Links. Other Profiles represents your other social media profiles. This is where you can add your links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Quora, and other social networks.

google plus links

Under Contributor To, you will add links to the sites you contribute to. Essentially, this should be links to your author pages on blogs you guest post for and contribute to regularly. It’s important to add links to these pages so you can claim Google+ Authorship for the content you create and boost your author rank. Now you also can specify whether you are a current or past contributor to a particular site, which allows you to claim your authorship while directing visitors to the places they can find your most current work.

Last, but not least, are your general links. These are links to your main website and other sites of interest that you want to share with visitors. This is why it’s a good idea to add some links to your introduction, because otherwise, the links you probably want to share most will be at the very bottom of your profile.

Building Authorship Authority

If you are trying to build up authority in your industry, one way to do it is by building Google+ Authorship as mentioned earlier. You do this by linking your Google+ personal profile to the content you create throughout the web, from your own site to other blogs and online media outlets.

What are the benefits of building up your Google+ Authorship? First off, you get your photo next to your content in search results, which can help boost the click-through rate. You can see how readers easily could use authorship to judge the authority of the content.

google plus authorship search results

Also, people can click the by link to discover more content by you on any site you contribute to in search results.

As an author, you can visit Google Webmaster Tools and use Author Stats under Labs to see analytics data about posts claimed under your Google+ profile from any website. Included are the number of impressions a particular piece of content receives in search results, the number of clicks, the click-through rate, and the average position in search results.

google webmaster tools author stats

If you’re a fan of Matt Cutts’s videos on the Google Webmaster Help channel, you probably have heard him mention that Google is working on identifying authorities in particular spaces with the intent of making sure that content by those authorities ranks well in search results. You can catch that around the 4:30 mark of the video what to expect from Google in the next couple of months recorded in May.

So how do you claim authorship for the content you create? There are two ways. The first is by having an email address on your Google+ profile from the domain you create content for. If you contribute to many sites, that may not be an option for you.

The second is by having a link to your content (or author page) from other sites on your Google+ profile under the Contributor To section and a link to your Google+ profile on each of those pieces of content. Also, the link to your Google+ profile should have an ?rel=author appended to it to specify that you are the author of the content. You can place this link in your author bio.

To test if your Google+ authorship is working, simply use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool. If anything is missing, it will help you find out what it is and how to fix it.

Setting up Your Page

To create a Google+ presence for your business, you will need to create a page. To get started, select the type of page you are creating – local, product, brand, company, institution, organization, arts, entertainment, or other. Each will have a large variety of subcategories to choose from.

Except for the pages in the local category, Google+ page setup is similar to personal profile setup with a few nice variations. The biggest difference is that instead of having your employment, education, and location information next to your profile photo at the top, your page will have a link to your verified website.

google plus page

Other notable differences include an expanded story section for different types of pages (such as Company, Mission, and Founded areas for companies) and a section for communities created by the page. Below the above shown areas are your Google+ page links and profile information.

If you want to give multiple people the ability to manage your Google+ page, you can do this by going to your Google+ page settings and clicking on Managers. There, you can add anyone who is following your page as a manager. Managers have limited access compared to page owners, but they can do the basics such as post content, edit circles, edit page information, and change the settings. Page owners and managers are not publicly listed on the page itself.

Getting Local

If you have a local business, you must have a Google+ page. Google+ took over Google Places, which means that if your local business had a Google Places listing, it’s now a Google+ listing. So when you attempt to create a page in the local category and enter your phone number, Google+ will find your local page and connect you to it. If your business isn’t on Google+ already, or formerly on Google Places, you will get to add a new listing for your business instead.

google plus create local business page step 4

The setup of a Google+ local business page is very different from the regular Google+ page setup. You will have to add your business information – physical address, phone number, and website – and then have it verified by Google before your updates will go live. Verification happens by phone or by postcard.

google plus create local business page step 8

Once your Google+ local business page is verified, you can start adding additional details, updates, and photos, and you can even create events. Note that local business pages have a few extra bits of information right at the top along with the website link.

google plus create local business page step 6.png

You also will get free local business insights about how your customers discover your business online and information about your followers, +1′s, and engagement.

Another major difference between regular Google+ pages and local business pages is the option for visitors to leave reviews. The more positive reviews your business has, the better it is likely to do in local search results. If you do happen to receive negative reviews, you can reply to them publicly on your local business page, showing future visitors that while bad experiences do happen, you are willing to do your best to help rectify the situations.

Planning Your Google+ Content Strategy

On Google+, you can post updates with text only, photos, videos, or links. Within your updates, you can mention other people and pages that you are following by typing their name after an @ symbol. You also can add hashtags to your Google+ updates to help them receive wider exposure.

One key thing to remember about your Google+ profile and page is that when they show up in search results, they will show your latest status update.

google plus page in search results

Therefore, if you want to show that you are active on Google+, you need to keep your profile and pages up to date.

As with any social network, if you’re unsure what to post on Google+, do a bit of research into what your competitors are posting. Look at the types of updates that work best for them in terms of engagement (+1′s, comments, and shares) and try similar types of updates with your audience.

Also, keep in mind that you can target your updates based on your circles. For example, if your company wants to send updates to only your employees, create an Employees circle and send it to just that circle.

However, when designating specific people/circles for your status updates on Google+, remember that any update which is not Public will not be seen in search results or shown to people you are not following. Therefore, you probably will want to make most of your updates public so that everyone can see you are active on your profile and pages.

Local businesses also should consider adding some locally relevant content to their updates. This can help attract even more local followers to your Google+ local business page.

Building an Audience

Google+ is similar to Twitter in that you can follow anyone, they will be notified when you follow them, and they will have the option to follow you back. If they do not follow you back, you may not get to see or interact with any of their updates beyond the ones they make public. Here are some tips for building a following for your personal profiles and pages. Just use the dropdown menu at the top right of your Google+ screen to select the profile or page you want to use throughout Google+.

  • Add a Google+ badge to your website so people can follow you immediately.
  • Use the Google+ find people page to find connections from Gmail, past workplaces, past schools, and other services (for personal profiles only).
  • Use the Google+ search box to find people and pages with similar interests, follow them, and interact with their public updates.
  • Join (or create) and participate in Google+ communities (personal profiles and pages).
  • Occasionally share the link to your Google+ presence on other social networks to encourage others to follow you.
  • Include a link to your Google+ presence in your email signature and newsletter.
  • Leave reviews for local businesses to gain more local exposure. While you can leave reviews as both your personal profile and as your business page, reviews by your business page will not always be shown to the public or count toward the total number of reviews.

As you follow others on Google+, be sure to organize them in relevant circles, which are like friends’ lists on Facebook. You can target updates to people in specific circles on both your profile and your page. You can narrow the view of your newsfeed to specific circles. The better organized your circles are, the better your Google+ experience will be.

Using Google+ Communities

Participating in Google+ communities can be a terrific way to gain exposure for yourself and your business. The great thing is that unlike Facebook pages or LinkedIn company pages, you can use your Google+ page just like you would your personal profile to create, join, and engage in communities.

To join and participate in a Google+ community, simply select the profile or page you want to use, then search for Google+ communities on a specific topic.

google plus communities

Depending on the settings, you will be approved right away or will have to be approved by the owner or moderator. Once you’re a member, you can post status updates in the groups just like you would on your profile or page.

Remember that Google+ has a great spam moderation system in place. This means that if your status update has a link, it may get put into a queue to be moderated. If the owner or moderator of the community considers your update to be spam, they have the option to remove your update and ban you from the community!

If you find a hole in the market, you can create a community using your personal profile or page. To create a community, click the blue Create Community button on the communities page. Then follow the guide to set up the perfect community to attract the people you want to connect with on Google+. As a public community owner or moderator, know that you will have to regularly go through and moderate the spam so you can approve the legitimate posts by members and remove the rest.

Hanging Out

One of the most unique features available to Google+ users is Google+ hangouts. These are live video chats that you can create with up to 10 participants. You can hold private Google+ hangouts as online meetings, or you can stream live Google+ hangouts for an unlimited number of viewers to watch on YouTube.

google plus hangout

To start a hangout, visit the Google+ Hangouts on Air page. If you’re not ready to create your own just yet, you can see if there are any hangouts on air that you can join with your followers or watch live to see how they go.

Some great ideas for hangouts include forming panels of people to have discussions on topics related to your industry, recording one-on-one interviews, running a webinar using Google+ hangout’s screensharing feature, or hosting a Q&A with your audience. The possibilities are endless. Best of all, you can record all of your hangouts and use them as part of your video marketing strategy.

Integration with YouTube

YouTube now allows you to use your Google+ profile to change the display name of your YouTube channel from your username to your real name. You can see the difference in the examples below.

google plus youtube integration

If you want your YouTube channel to match the name on your Google+ personal profile, then go to your YouTube channel’s settings page and click on Link channel with Google+.

google plus link channel

What if you don’t want to change your YouTube channel display to your name? Then check out these instructions to try linking your Google+ page to your YouTube channel. This will help you link your YouTube channel to your brand vs. your personal profile.

Enhancing Your Website with Google+

The following are different ways you can integrate Google+ with your website.

Google +1 Button – Similar to the Facebook Like button, the Google +1 button allows visitors to your website to +1 a page. You can use it to get people to +1 your homepage or +1 individual product and content pages.

Google+ Direct Connect – This piece of code allows you to connect your website to your Google+ page. When people search for your brand, they will see your website along with your Google+ page at the top of search results.

Google+ Comments – This is similar to Facebook comments, but it’s on the Google+ platform. The option to use Google+ comments is available directly for people using the Blogger platform. WordPress users can install the Google+ Comments plugin to add this functionality to their blogs.

Exploring the Top Tools

Unlike Twitter and Facebook where you have a lot of management options with third party tools, Google+ has been very particular about which companies they work with. Fortunately, they keep a current list of supported third party management tools. So far, they all allow you to manage only your Google+ pages. These tools include well-known platforms like Dlvr.it, HootSuite, Sendible, and Sprout Social.

Analyzing Your Results

Like any online marketing strategy, you will want to look at your analytics to make sure Google+ is both driving traffic and leading to conversions. Google Analytics Social Reports will help you track direct conversions; that is, traffic that comes to your website from Google+ and, within the same visit, converts. KISSmetrics can help you track a visitor from Google+ who converts on your website, regardless of whether they convert on their first visit or later.

You also can use analytics services like SumAll and Social Report to connect to Google+ along with other analytics programs and social networks to see your marketing data across multiple platforms in one place.

In Conclusion

Congratulations if you made it through this guide! If you apply everything you’ve learned, then very soon you should have a great Google+ profile and be well on your way to building authorship authority and a strong local presence for your business (if applicable), engaging with your audience, managing your account with terrific tools, and seeing the results of your Google+ activity. What else would you like to know about Google+ marketing? Please ask your questions in the comments and share your own great Google+ tips, tools, and resources.

About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on , Twitter, and Facebook.

  1. Google has been making some really great advancements and changes to the Google+ profile that I think will allow it to grow well into the future. Even though Google has strength in numbers they still need to innovate Google+ to keep up with already established social networks.

  2. Neil you are unstopable at this point (another detailed content) and I think google+ is getting mature day by day and have reach to a point where you can’t ignore it anymore.

    Neil could you also provide simpar guide for stumbleupon and pintrest and I am sure they must be in you to do list :)

    -Vijay

    • Thanks Vijay! I’m glad you like the guide. We do have a StumbleUpon guide, but it was written before they made some major changes to the platform. We’ll have to add it to our marketing guide to-do list. :)

  3. Just that I’m needing, thank you so much.
    Sorry by my english, I’m cuban.

  4. Great post Kristi. I wouldn’t expect anything less from KISSmetrics. I think Google+ is extremely useful for marketers and small businesses, and they’re both adopting Google+ quite rapidly, however do you think it is lagging among the general population?

    Are people only using Google+ to take advantage of the SEO benefits?

    Let me know your thoughts…

    - Ed Davis

    • The SEO benefits aren’t really that great unless you create content or have a local business. The general public is actually being forced onto the network now, thanks to the integration with all of Google’s products, especially YouTube.

  5. Hi Kristi,
    Great article. Do you by any chance know how to manage multiple locations within Google+.
    Say you have 40 locations and you want change the central phonenumber, etc. Do you have to have 40 seperate accounts? Within Google places you could “manage” several places within one account. This wasn’t very easy because you didn’t have a find (a location) function. But that’s another story :-)

    Thanks!

    • I would presume it would be like managing multiple Facebook pages. I know that you still can get into Google Places to see multiple business listings, but I’d guess that will eventually be phased out.

  6. Nice Post! I’ve been waiting for someone to step up to the plate and knock this Google+ thing out of the park, so great job on that.

    If I may, however, I find that many of my clients have a hard time with Google+ because when you add somebody to your circle and update a post, you have to specify who sees it and who doesn’t and that’s one extra level of annoyance. Additionally, Google sends out an email to everyone in that specified circle, adding a further level of annoyance. Plus, with Google actively de-anonymizing the web, you don’t get to hide anymore and all your talk becomes public – good for clarity, bad for shooting from the hip.
    In short, I see Google+ as a good thing for businesses, but not so great socially. I’ll be looking for a guide on how to successfully separate yourself from your Google+ account guide soon! :)

    • You can share posts to everyone by making it public. The only catch is when you make a public update, your followers won’t know unless they are looking at their newsfeed when you publish or check your page. If you want to notify everyone, you could put them all in one common circle in addition to the other organizational circles you have. But i don’t think you have control of the email – users can choose to turn it on and off.

  7. Nice! When people ask me about G+ I’m going start telling them to read this first.

  8. Thanks for this guide Kristi, I’ve only recently started exploring Google+ and want to try and make full use of it. I have already set up the authorship but now need to work on building my presence on it.

  9. Thank you Kristi for this excellent guide. I just needed it.

    Cheers.

    Ashok

  10. I am wondering if it is acceptable/approved by google to use your business logo as your author image so that it shows up in the search results. Does anyone know google’s stance on this?

  11. Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for sharing this, what a great resource! I’ve been using G+ for a while now and thought I had it down but you still managed to teach me something new! I find communities a great tool- although I’m seeing more and more spam across the communities I’m a member of… although they have moderators it seems some are stricter than others. I hope this doesn’t increase as one of the best things about G+ at the moment is the lack of spam and advertising!

    • Unfortunately, spam is everywhere, even on Google+. I get spam comments on my wall posts sometimes too. Very frustrating, but still not as bad as the ones I get on my Facebook page.

  12. Thanks for the very long and informative post. I’m still trying to figure out which is the best approach with my site due to the separation between author profiles and pages, and whether or not to link between the two or only use one. Overall though I’m quite happy with Google+ and trying to expand my circle!

  13. Great post. I really do think Google+ has moved on a lot in the last year – particularly due to communities, but one of the things I’m struggling with is when to use my profile, and when to use my page.
    I have my own profile (Martyn Rowe) and a page for my website (GoingPaleoUK). I have linked my profile to the site so authorship is working well for me… but is it best to build a following as the Page, or as an individual? Should I post as the Page and build relationships that way, or as myself?
    I’m keen to get as many of the benfits for SEO that I can from G+, but equally don’t want to duplicate effort by maintaining both profile and page, or to make sure I’m not ‘spamming’ my followers with dupliacte posts, etc!
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks.

  14. Hi Kristi,

    Thank you for sharing this really detailed guide on using Google+. I very much enjoyed reading the article. I also think Google+ is a great platform that businesses should use, especially its Hangouts feature.

    Thanks,
    Richard

  15. Fantastic website. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to some buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious.

    And obviously, thanks on your sweat!

  16. Hello,
    I create my profile quite some time ago just for my company and realized it was not good to put company logo as my profile picture etc. so now I created a local business page, do I need to keep on publishing content to my personal profile or only to my local business page?

    • Actually I have exact same question. I also created the page and profile and not sure where to write my updates or from SEO perspective where is the best to put my business updates, blog posts etc.

      Will keep an eye on this.
      Thank you,
      A

  17. Thanks for the information, found this very useful and will be implementing much of what you have discussed. Think is a particularly useful SEO tool for organic growth!!

  18. Google+ should be taken seriously into account if you want to increase your site’s authorship – trust to Google. And getting a Local business page is crucial if you’re running a physical business, where people can come & shop. It’s a lot easier for people to find you on map, and hey you can even SEO your Google Local business page too (Not many people even considering SEO local business page)

  19. ruplina bhowmik Dec 05, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    thanks for this wonderful post full of useful information regarding setting up and using a Google+ profile optimally… looking forward to use the tips and to more posts from you…

  20. Interesting article about some of the very important, but difficult areas of social marketing.

    Especially Google + are new for many business, so great with a informative tips and advice.

  21. Harriet Tunis Jan 18, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you for the great overview and detail, esp. for those of us just entering the fray! For best SEO, do you recommend keeping the same name across ALL facets (Google+ personal profile, business page, and YouTube channel)? Thanks!

  22. Do you know of a way to auto share posts going to my business page to also go onto my personal page?

  23. Great article Kristi, very informative. I’ve been on G+ for a while now and I still learnt some stuff here. I have an issue with the author stats through webmaster tools. It’s showing stats for me and another person (same first and last name – but the other person is using a middle name – all their posts are from ezine articles). Any idea how I can clean this up. I can’t find anything on WMT and G+ doesn’t seem to provide anything either. Cheers.

    Aaron

  24. hi Kristi – GREAT article and very informative. So much so that I’m coming to you with a question that I can’t seem to find answered anywhere else — I’ve been invited to start contributing on LinkedIn as part of their early round of invitations to get everyone publishing there. I want to make sure my LinkedIn Publisher posts are linking back to my Google+ authorship. I’m adding the ?rel=author code in the LI post, but I’m wondering about how I add the LinkedIn posts on my “contributes to” section of my Google+ profile — does Google+ find these automatically because I’ve linked my LinkedIN profile to my Google+ profile, or do I also have to add a “contributes to” link? and if so, do I add my LinkedIn profile URL as the URL? do I add each separate LinkedIn post URL as a separate URL on Google+ profile (presumably not, but I’m just not sure about this…)

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