Google Plus – If You Want More Online Visibility, It’s Time to Get On Board

Google-Plus-256When Google+ (also written as Google Plus) launched in June 2011, most people who pay attention to these things figured it would flop. And while it’s not as popular and doesn’t have as many active users as Facebook, Google+ has become a site you must not ignore anymore.

As with most online sites, I jumped on Google+ as soon as invitations were available. I soon realized I really didn’t have the bandwidth to really go deep with it. However, I set up my profile, optimized it, uploaded a cover image and started posting my blog articles. I set up Circles, found people to follow, and occasionally shared and  +1’d posts I liked.

Now, nearly two years later, I’m turning more of my attention to Google+. After all, Google = Search and Google favors its own sites.  So if you’re an active user and create and share great content, Google views you as having more authority and relevance. This can translate to better results on search engine result pages (SERPs).

There are a lot of complexities to Google+ and I want you to understand why it’s important to get on board. Recent changes and enhancements may convince you.

Your Google+ Profile

You have an opportunity to really shine and leverage your profile. You can include links to your sites, products and services.  Include information about where you work and live and links to your other social profiles. While you can make any info private, the more you share publicly, the better you’ll be able to connect with others with similar interests.

As MaAnna Stephenson of BlogAid.net also advises in her thorough Google+ Profile tutorial:

Use your real name. AuthorRank is all about you as the author of your online content. Google must be able to connect your name to all of your online presences.

Upload an easily recognizable headshot of yourself. Do not get too artistic with it. No cartoonish type drawings or such. You want to ensure that Google knows exactly who you are. (For maximum benefit, you should use the same headshot on all of your profiles including Gravatar and your social media sites.)

If you haven’t set up a Google+ Profile yet, take a few minutes to go through MaAnna’s tutorial and get set up now.

Optimize Your Cover Image for Marketing and Conversion

Not long ago Google surprised everyone and totally changed up the cover image. They made it HUGE! What they didn’t do though is provide a design template or warn you that it appears differently depending on the platform you’re viewing a profile on, i.e., when looking at a profile on your smartphone, you see one area of the image, while on a monitor you see another part, and when you hover over a profile photo, it looks different yet again. How the heck do you design for that?

Luckily, I had the good fortune to be introduced to Stephan Hovnanian of Shovi Websites by way of a Hangout hosted by Chris Lang.

As soon as I heard Stephan explain how to design for the new image dimensions and demonstrate how to use the image for conversion (moving people to take action on something like adding you to one of their Circles or a landing page to opt in to your email list), I contacted him right away. After exchanging a few emails, I contracted him to design a new G+ cover image for me and then repurpose it for all my social profiles: Facebook page, LinkedIn Business page, Twitter, and YouTube‘s new channel design.

Here’s a quick, two minute video of Stephan reviewing the image and the design decisions:

Hangouts On Air

Hangouts On Air are a feature you can’t ignore for boosting your visibility big time: live streaming video on your Google+ Profile AND on your YouTube channel, automatically recorded and posted to YouTube. Free. The possibilities are vast.

I recently heard a big name online marketer say he canceled his multiple GoToWebinar accounts and is now using Google Hangouts exclusively for all his online webinar-style presentations, group coaching, and private coaching. If you have a GTW account, you know how much you can save by going to a free model!

In the last month I’ve done several On Air Hangouts, a couple for The Future of Ink, a live video version of Brag About Your Blog Day, and on one I was a guest for a Q&A about business blogging. I’m now planning a series of free monthly Hangouts called “Adventures in Visibility” (stay tuned for more on that!).

You can do a Hangout with one person or thousands.  They can be private (not recorded) or On Air (public and automatically recorded and posted on YouTube).

Your Google+ profile and activity helps you get found in search results

Your Google+ cover image can help you convert followers to leads and prospects

Hangouts On Air help you automatically create content that amplifies your visibility on YouTube. And those videos can be shared and embedded on your blog and around the Web.

What’s not to like about that?!

Not convinced yet?

gplus-panel5OK. I’m hosting a free webinar on March 28 on 3 Ways to Boost Your Visibility and Business with Google+: Why Every Online Entrepreneur Needs to Get Onboard with Google+ Now. [Update: you can get the webinar replay on demand now.]

I’ve invited MaAnna Stephenson and Stephan Hovnanian to join me and share their expertise with you as well.  We’ll go into more detail about your Google+ Profile and setting up AuthorRank on your blog, as well as how to optimize your cover image, and how you can use Hangouts for your business.

Join us!

Google Plus Circles – How to Build an Opt-in List

In case you missed the post on Build a Better Blog about how Google+ can help your blogging, I'm following up here as I've refined my thinking a bit more. I announced that I had set up two opt-in circles and have invited anyone who wants to get information about business blogging and online visibilty to add their G+ profile to a form and I'll add them to the circles.

I don't take credit for this idea. I saw a post by Chris Brogan where he announced a marketing circle and I'm modeling the idea. 

As a business professional growing your business, it's essential to make it as easy as possible for people who follow you and love what you offer, to get the valuable information you create, find and filter for them. No longer can we focus all our efforts on building one email list (that's super important to do, though, since marketing messages delivered by email convert the best for sales). Our lists are everywhere now: Twitter followers, Facebook Friends, LinkedIn connections, YouTube subscribers and now, Google+ contacts.

Creating special circles for those who raise their hand and WANT to get your great content is simply another way of making yourself available where your raving fans congregate.

The beauty of opt-in circles is that you can limit what you share to only those who want it. I don't have to share every cool blogging tool or article with everyone I know (like what happens when you post a tweet), many of whom could probably care less. I can share with a limited circle of friends, colleagues, clients and others who WANT that info. 

By the way, I realize that Circles are designed as a way for you to organize your contacts into groups by interest, topic, geography, etc. I'm suggesting here, another way to look at how you think about using G+ for your business.

What do you think? How are you using Google+ and organizing your Circles?

If you would like to be added to one or both of my opt-in circles, fill out the form here.