This is part one of a two part feature explaining how Google+ can benefit you and your business and how using it can maximise brand awareness, search engine rankings and customer engagement.
So why do I need a Google+ profile?
So you've spent time creating a personal/company Twitter account or been through the process of getting your estate agency listed on Facebook; perhaps you've gone the extra mile and even got yourself a LinkedIn company page! So do you need to do all this with Google+? Well... yes if you want to help your business achieve maximum visibility online and help people find you better within search results. Google+ is becoming so much more than a social network, one that has long-term additional benefits for you and your business. Google has stated that they intend to use Google+ as a hub for all of their products and services. Because Google's bread and butter is search, it's no wonder that Google is using Google+ as a way for individuals and businesses to help with their Google search rankings; as well as provide a social network for people to communicate, share pictures and get involved with communities. The added SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation), benefits make it a win win.
- Google's services are tightly integrated allowing for better collaboration
- Google+ allows for long conversations and you can build relationships
- Circles allows for better privacy and sharing controls
- Hangouts enable group meetings, discussions, or demonstrations
- YouTube integration
- Google+ business pages will help visibility for your business online
You can find out about all the features of Google+ in more details on the official Google+ features page. Or check out Google's own video about Google+.
I'm curious now, how do I set-up a profile?
As mentioned previously, chances are as a Google user you already have an account in waiting. Google has been quite active recently guiding users into creating a Google+ profile on sites like YouTube, Gmail and other services. If you use an Android phone then you may have created a Google+ account when trying to access the Google Play store to download apps.
If you are signed into Google then it's an easy place to find out whether you have an account or not. In the top right there is a user profile and notifications icon, you'll see on the image below it shows my personal profile image and tells me that I have one notification. In the top left you should notice the +Paul link; if you have a Google+ profile already then your first name will be displayed here, if you don't have an account then it will simply display +You. If you want to go ahead and create an account, clicking this link is the the most direct way to get to the sign-up process.
OK, you sold it to me. Now what?
Once you have a profile it's time for the fun stuff. A personal Google+ profile looks like this:
If you have used or seen Facebook profiles then some of the concepts should look familiar. Profile image, header image, your posts below. A list of people or brands you follow and so forth. I'd spend sometime clicking around and getting to know what icons do what, check out Find people or perhaps search for your favourite sports team or a page you might follow on Facebook. As Google+ grows you'll start to find more and more parity with what you are accustomed to on Facebook and Twitter. More and more brands, news outlets and businesses are adopting Google+ so it makes sense to get used to how it works and what you can do with it sooner rather than later. It's only going to get bigger.
Clicking on the Explore icon will show you people, organisations or brands that you might want to follow, or in Google+ terms, Circle.
Google+ adopts a similar approach to liking and following as Facebook and Twitter, if you happen to find someone or something of interest and you want to follow them, you add them to a Circle. Circles on Google+ are a great way to organise your Google+ profile, say you circled BBC News and then circled another news organisation like The Guardian, you can name a circle on Google+ to just News and then any other news organisations you may want to follow in the future you can neatly tuck away into your News circle.
How about adding us to one of your circles to get you started? Circle The Property Jungle.
Organising your circles is a worthwhile endeavour as this can also help with sharing content in the future. Lets say for example you have created your own Google+ profile and then you find a few business associates are on there already using Google+. You can create a circle called Business Associates and then start to add them into that circle, the same goes for family members and close friends, create a circle just for these people to keep contacts separate and organised. By creating circles you can use these when posting content, I'll give an example.
Google+ makes the process of sharing content transparent, it's very clear at any time who will be able to see and interact with the content you're posting by using your custom circles.
Google+ users have described Google+ as a good way to meet new people with similar interests, whereas Facebook is more for social interactivity with friends and family and Twitter is about short snippets of information. As an individual, a professional and as a local business, Google+ is a perfect place to establish new relationships with people you might otherwise had never met.
You might have noticed the +1 buttons popping up around the internet. The +1 is a method of letting Google and others know that this is your stamp of approval. The importance of clicking a +1 button for good or useful content will become a big part of Google's future efforts to index websites and webpages all over the world, so it's worth clicking that +1 button when you see it. Clicking the +1 button on personal and business profiles on Google+ is also a contributing factor to validating you and/or your business.
Can I Personalise my Account
Absolutely and I'd strongly encourage it. Bear in mind that this is your account, resist the temptation to start uploading your businesses logos and branding. Google+ has a place for that and it will be explained in part two of this Google+ feature.
Your profile photo should be a good photo of yourself so people can identify it's really you, this helps with people circling you as they know it 's a human behind that computer screen and something called authorship in the future, we'll also get to that in the second part of this feature. Just like Facebook, Google+ profiles allow you to upload a header image and on Google+ it's huge! This is a great opportunity to express your individualism and add a really nice enticing image to your profile.
Some great examples of personal profile pages:
Spend sometime getting to know the About tab on your Google+ profile as this is quite important. Fill out as much about yourself as you feel comfortable with as this can be used to find you within Google+ but most importantly, pay attention to the Links section as this will play a part in the next step of setting up your Google+ business page. Editing this section you'll notice a subsection called Contributor to, add any URLs, (http://www.yourbusinessname.co.uk), of websites that you own or post content to. Mine for example says that I'm a Contributor to The Property Jungle as I write articles for them and code-up websites, fix problems, you name it, I'm a genuine contributor to The Property Jungle.
This is great, I've got it from here, thanks...
Hopefully this short introduction to Google+ will help you understand a little more about how it works and the overall benefits of getting your profile in order. As mentioned previously in this article, Google has big plans and it's worth getting on board now rather than later, not just from a personal perspective but for your business in general.
Google also provide mobile apps that you can use on your mobile devices for quick access on the move
Stay tuned to our social media profiles as in the next article I will write about how a specific Google+ Page will help to make your business stand out from the crowd.
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