Google is constantly improving Google+, making it an ideal solution if you are interested in using the social media platform to drive traffic to your website. One of its primary attractions is the fact that Google+ profiles and pages are included on Google search engine results pages (SERPs). And Google+ offers features that are similar to other popular social networks but places these features on one common platform.
Many business owners have been waiting to see whether or not it would survive but the wait is now over. With over 170 million users and growing, Google+ is very much in the social network game. In fact, at this point, it is a strong contender especially considering it is just about to turn a year old. But will Google+ actually benefit your business? There are specific actions you can take to use Google+ to drive traffic to your site.
Action #1: Manage Your Profile
Take the time to create an accurate and engaging profile – it is your opportunity to make a great first impression. Provide complete information on your profile page, including how people can contact you. Review your profile on a regular basis. Update it when necessary. Did your business receive an award? Post it. Have you adding someone interesting to your team? Post it. Creating a profile to get started on Google+ and then forgetting about it is a mistake. Just as you keep your website current, you need to do the same with your social media profiles. Your profile provides credibility to you and your business. You also need to optimize your profile.
Action #2: Identify the Right Keywords
Selecting the right keywords involves using your keywords and those of your targeted audience. You will need to do more than basic keyword research to develop this list. One way to find out which keywords your audience uses is to actually join in Google+ discussions that focus on your particular topic area. Don’t assume that your audience uses industry jargon as you and your peers do – rather, look for the “laymen terms” that are frequently used by customers which may include slang. If you are a B2B business, industry language may be appropriate but you should still confirm by participating in Google+ hangouts and other discussion circles.
Action #3: Use Keywords Appropriately
Once you have identified the best keywords, you need to make use of them in ways that will drive traffic to your site. Include them on your Google+ Profile and Google+ Pages. The best place to add keywords is in the “about” sections which are used on SERPs. You also want to use keywords each time you post messages or share photos. You should have a list of keywords from which you are working. Identify your top keywords but use your secondary keywords as well throughout your Google+ experience. Be consistent in how you use your keywords as this will help Google as it indexes your information.
Action #4: Establish Authority
Authority is essential if you want Google+ to work for you. As with many things that Google does, the number of links you have can improve your SERP rankings. They are still working on the quality issue but in the meantime focus on obtaining a volume of followers. As you join Google+ circles, people will reciprocate and join your circle. Of course the best way to establish authority is with fresh content that other Google+ users want to see. You can also establish authority by having your key team members manage their own Google+ profiles. You will be building your brand at the same time. Eventually you can be included on the “People and Pages on Google+” section of SERPs. Google also gives Google+ users AuthorRank (similar to their PageRank) and considers your other content across the web when ranking.
Action #5: Create Sharable Content
As with everything you do related to online marketing, your content must be sharable. That is, you need to provide content that followers will share with their followers. The more your content is shared, the more links you create. You also increase your chances of driving qualified traffic to your website. There are many ways to come up with new content ideas. You can follow Google+ discussion threads to see what the current hot topics are at the moment and create your own responses. You can also see what is trending on Google related to your topic area and respond accordingly. Be sure to let other Google+ users know they can share your content with others.
Action #6: Join the Conversation
It is important you actively participate in your circles. Plan to participate weekly by commenting on posts by other users. Join popular conversations by adding fresh content to the dialogue. Be sure to +1 postings that relate to your topic as this will provide additional exposure to you which is crucial for traffic building. You want to be as engaging as possible. You should view your Google+ experience as a reciprocal relationship – to get, you must give. You can see how well you are doing by using Google+ “ripples” to see who is sharing your content. This is a great way to see who your ambassadors are and identify new influencers. Do more of what gets shared. A tip to get your content shared is to provide information that is helpful and/or humorous.
Action #7: Host a Hangout
You can use Google+ Hangouts for just about any type of video content. Maybe you want to demonstrate a cool feature of a product you sell. Or perhaps you have a new online marketing tool that customers might be interested in knowing about. Whatever it is, the more hangouts you host, the more you are likely to engage new customers while building solid relationships with repeat ones. Not everyone is comfortable with virtual speaking or demonstrations. You can always delegate your Hangouts to your team members. This is a great way to showcase your team’s expertise and build authority along the way. Hangouts can be optimized for mobile marketing as well.
Action #8: Construct a Local Page
If you have a physical location, you can build a Google+ local page that local customers can use. Your local page can include a map to your location. It will have contact information including hours of operation. You will have the same level of functionality as you do with other Google+ pages so you can share content, create circles, and host hangouts. You can easily get more traffic using Google+ local pages to your advantage.
Action #9: Integrate Pictures and Videos
You will find that your followers have different preferences so mix it up. Include pictures and videos as well as text content. Often an engaging photo will cause readers to click on your post. Infographics are popular and are likely to be shared. Pictures can be shared on other social networks like Pinterest which gives you access to even more potential traffic. Be sure to optimize your pictures and videos so they can be included on SERPs. Add appropriate keywords to your alt tags for all pictures and videos you post. Be sure to follow all copyright and licensing requirements when using photos and videos.
Action #10: Put Links to Work
This might seem obvious but many Google+ users are not including their website URL on their profile page. You should do this immediately. Your brand page should also prominently display a link to your website. You can also include links in your postings. Perhaps you want to refer followers to a prior blog posting – no problem, just add the link in your Google+ posting. And do the reverse – include a link to your Google+ page on your website. You can also include it on your blog. Google allows you to link your Google+ page to your AdWords campaign. If you have an AdWords Express campaign, you can actually establish your Google+ page as your destination page. Remember, your goal is to drive traffic to your website. So don’t use Google+ in a vacuum. Make the connections for your followers. Google gives you many options when it comes to linking – use them!
Action #11: Incorporate Google+ in Marketing Strategy
Allow people to +1 you on your blog postings and marketing articles. Include a Google+ badge on your website and let your current customers know they can include you in their circles. You can also include your Google+ link on other communications such as emails and newsletters. And don’t forget your offline communications. You can drive more traffic to your site the more you share your link with people. Google+ has mobile applications that can be adapted to any marketing strategy.