3 Ways to Use Google+ to Boost Your Content and SEO Strategies
It’s been about a year and a half since the launch of Google+ and it looks like things are going well for the search giant’s social network. So well in fact, that according to a recent report by UK market research firm Trendstream, Google+ “is now the second largest social network in terms of active users.”
Forbes cites that the above-mentioned report “estimates Facebook‘s active users in December 2012 at 693 million, compared to 343 million for Google+.” Of course, the term “active users” is still pretty ambiguous, as Google hasn’t confirmed the real definition of “active” (i.e. are these users really logging into the Google+ website or are they merely using Google products?). Still though, 343 million cannot—and should not—be ignored. Especially if you’re trying to increase your web presence.
Nonetheless, it isn’t just about huge numbers. The fact is there are a number of sound and practical reasons to get on board with Google+. Whether you’re thinking in terms of SEO, social media, or content marketing, Google’s social network offers several advantages. Consider the following:
1. Webmaster Central’s Office Hours is hosted on Google+ Hangouts – If you’re an SEO who makes it a point to follow Google’s every move, then this alone is reason enough to get on Google+.
The Google Webmaster Central team hosts what’s called the “office hours” hangouts 1 to 3 times a week on the social network. During this event, members of their team gather round and discuss “anything Google web-search-related like crawling, indexing, duplicate content, Sitemaps, Google Webmaster Tools, pagination, duplicate content, multi-lingual/multi-regional sites, etc.”
Office hours is a public event, so you too can join in on the fun and directly voice out any questions, concerns or feedback that you may have. Do note that while members of the Webmaster Central team can certainly help you with basic issues pertaining to your site, it’s best check the FAQs or turn to the forums to ask specific questions so other users and members of the Webmaster Central community can help.
To join an office hours Hangout, Google instructs that you “watch the Google+ stream of the person holding the hangout (or add them to your circles) and wait for the post inviting you to join. Hangouts are currently limited to 10 participants, so if you can’t get in initially, you may want to try again a bit later during the session, or be early when the next session comes.”
Hangouts are usually announced a few days in advance by a member of the Webmaster Central team (follow John Mueller on Google+ to get a heads up) but you can also check out the next scheduled office hours Hangouts here. You can also view office hours archives here.
How to use this to boost your SEO strategy: Remember that knowledge is power, and if you’re in SEO, then office hours Hangouts are great sources. If your site’s having some SEO issues that the forums can’t solve, then why not Hangout with the Webmaster Central team and take it up with them directly? You’ll get answers straight from the source and eliminate the all the guesswork.
2. Google+ Communities – In case you missed the memo, Google+ now has communities on the site that allow you to create and join groups based on common interests, skills, locations, etc.
While Facebook does have a groups feature, Google+ Communities has an edge when it comes to organizing content. When you post an article or update on your Community page, Google+ will let you choose a category for your particular post. This makes finding information a whole lot easier because users will be able to view posts by category, as opposed to sifting through the posts one by one.
So for example, if you’re on a Google+ Community page about social media (in general) but are trying to find posts about Twitter in particular, simply select the Twitter category on the page, and Google+ will only display the relevant posts.
How to use this to boost your social media and content strategies: Want to touch base or get to know potential customers on the site? Google+ Communities make it so much easier. (Just be sure to socialize, and not just promote your stuff.)
In terms of content, the categories function in community pages certainly makes it easier for other people to find your stuff if it’s relevant to them. So post your content on relevant community pages, and categorize your posts accordingly.
3. Hashtags and Trending Topics – Facebook may make it extremely easy for you to find your friends, but the strength of Google+ lies in the fact it makes content discovery a breeze. Thanks to its trending topics sidebar, you can easily find the hottest and most talked-about topics on the social network so you can craft relevant content. Google+ also supports hashtags which allows you to quickly find and track specific topics.
With regards to content, Brian Clark of Copyblogger said it best:
Facebook is downright hostile to content marketers unless you want to pay to reach your own audience. Twitter looks like it wants to be a content player itself.
Google+ isn’t a typical social network. It’s a topical network, organized around content, not who you went to high school with.
When an organization’s stated purpose is to organize the world’s information, it makes sense that Google+ has developed as a topical network. And instead of resisting, any content creator should be sprinting over to Google+ and building an audience there.
How to use this to boost your content strategy: You can immediately create and market content more effectively simply by using the above-mentioned features.
Got writer’s block or going through a slow news day? Take a quick look at Google+ Trending topics to see if you can write about anything on the list. (Google+ even has some arrows to indicate whether a topic is trending up or down, so you’ll know if a topic is gaining popularity or if it’s past its peak.)
Or you can try hitting the Explore tab to see the most popular posts in your network; doing this can give you some ideas as well.
Once you have the content, increase its find-ability by typing in relevant hashtags when you post it on Google+. This move can put you in front of people who are specifically looking for your type of content, so be sure to tag your posts accordingly.
Image credit: Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net on Flickr