If your still looking at Google+ as some wanna be Facebook, then your way behind the curve on the massive shifts happening in search, SEO and content discovery.
The big difference between Facebook and Google+, is that Facebook is a social network built around friends, family and their connections. On the flip side Google Plus focuses on building a social layer around content and creating connections and driving discovery through that focus.
The thing that should stand out the most to you in that sentence is “content,” now more than ever the term “Content Is King” rings true when it comes to building an audience in the latest phase of the web’s evolution.
Why Should I Focus On Google Plus?
It drives search rankings, links are not as important as they use to be, not that it was bad indicator of which sites are important and which ones are not; but the way people connect with content has changed and links alone aren’t going to cut it.
Google now gives a lot of emphasis on social signals (Tweets, Likes, Pins, Plus Ones etc), they have a direct effect on your rankings.
That’s why I started focusing on my then dormant Google+ page for my Hip Hop portal iHipHopMusic.com, as I’m writing this; the page has just reached 140,000 plus ones and 108,000 followers. It started growing in January 2013, at it’s peak it was getting 10k plus ones per month and there was one month it received 20k followers.
So How Did I End Up Getting 100K Google+ Followers?
Well they’re a few different factors, some you control and some you don’t, lets talk about the obvious ones first.
Add Google Plus To Your Site
I’m not just talking about adding the Google Plus widget to your site, but verify and connect it with your Google+ brand page. Once verified, you’ll notice that your brand page will have check mark next to it. (Screenshot below)
Make it Sexy
The world has more than it’s share of crappy brand pages, don’t add to the list. Believe it or not, having some design flare will go a long way in social media weather your pushing a G+ page, Facebook page or Twitter profile. Make it look interesting, people only like interesting this, don’t be uninteresting.
If you have a nice logo, icon and overall brand appearance, use those attributes to spice up the look of your page and maintain the design aesthetics of your site’s design, from a branding stand point this is a no-brainier.
This one is out of your control, to my knowledge Google chooses pages at random to give them a branded URL, my Hip Hop page has no branded link but my Mixtapes.TV band page was given a brand URL a week after creating the page, the benefit of that is that when some types +mixtapestv in the search engine it brings up your brand page, another benefit is that any other plus searches that are similar to your band name will also bring up you brand page at the top of the search engine.
Another benefit is that, it’s much easier to send someone to this page google.com/+mixtapestv instead of https://plus.google.com/105991332161505449271/posts.
Tag Em and Bag Em
This is something that gets abused all the time on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Google+ however limits the relevancy of your hash tags to the first 3, at least I think that’s what they’re doing. Unfortunately there’s no official word from G+ that this is actually how it works, but from some of my tests, I’ve learned that whatever tags you use in your posts on your Google+ brand page will show up in G+ search results when users search with search terms that match your hash tags. What I’ve noticed is that, when I search for anything beyond the first 3 hash tags, it doesn’t show up prominently as the first 3 do. Sometimes though the other hash tags do show up prominently, but only when it matches text in the post.
Sorry, wish I had more accurate data on this one but it’s sort of hard to track. This is what I will say though, tag everything just don’t overdo it, remember this is Google people, they love to label things as spam.
I was pushing content on my Google+ brand page since January 2012, things didn’t take off until a year later, some of it’s due to the fact the Google+ really took off in 2013 but this also has to do with the fact that I wasn’t tagging, the consistency between tagging and providing new content to the page daily resulted in a snowball effect once users started using Google+ for search and content discovery.
Engage Your Audience
The more your audience is engaged the more “ripples” occur about your brand page, friends of followers will take notice of their activity and this will result in indirect followers to your page.Post quotes, ask questions, run contests and reply to your audience, I’m very familiar with the regulars on my page, we always have conversations and debates. This is a intangible value that can’t be measured but trust me, the ROI speaks for itself.
It’s all about the ripples people.
Having a community page alongside your brand page helps increase the chances of your content getting discovered, not to mention it gives your audience a chance to be a part of the contribution process. I have a rap battle community that pretty much runs itself for that very reason, the audience controls it. Promote users that show a consistent level of engagement, so far I’ve promoted 5 users as moderators of the page and they now control the community, keeping the spam out and making sure the content quality is p to standard.
I didn’t even have to ask them to do this, they did it themselves because they care about the community.
Share Successes With Your Audience
Every time I gained 10,000 new followers I created a little banner and uploaded it; showing that the page had reached a new milestone and thanking the audience for making it possible. This makes the user feel like they’re a part of the success and in reality…They are.
Start off with these things and your sure to see results from your Google+ brand page, and even if you don’t have a ton of followers, remember the content is still getting discovered through search which will eventually and inevitably lead to getting followers.
Good luck, and remember have fun, it’s the internet after all.