Since it came on the scene in 2011, Google+ has been used as a social media platform, identity service and SEO tool by its 540 million users. Despite such a large audience, Google+ hasn’t taken off the way other sites have. That may be changing, though.
Despite a relatively lukewarm reception by marketers and bloggers, experts predict Google+ will have a larger role in social media and inbound marketing in 2014. That means, if you already have a Google+ account, you’ll need to put more resources into it. If you don’t have an account, it means you’ll need to create one.
Here are a few ways to incorporate Google+ into your inbound marketing strategy.
If you develop content for different sites, such as contributing guest posts or interviews, enabling Google Authorship helps Google and readers know you are the creator. This is beneficial for reasons that go beyond the simple act of having Authorship working.
Inbound marketing entails earning visitors with content. Google Plus, with authorship enabled, offers a seamless inbound marketing opportunity. For example:
This process is labeled as “Ripples” on Google Plus. And you don’t always need to rely on guest contributions; have faith in your own content, too!
For example, Mr. Rooter published a post on its Google Plus profile and then re-shared it in a relevant community:
We can open up the Ripples section to see the anatomy of shares:
This shows how a simple post can drive traffic. With some of the most popular Google Plus profiles, the Ripples get massive! When the popular meme “Grumpy Cat” got her star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the post went viral:
The outskirts (the larger circles) arise when someone re-shares your post from a profile that has already re-shared it. This creates ripples or chains, which help your post spread.
People embed content from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into content they publish elsewhere. Why not add Google+ to the mix? As people start visiting Google+, they’ll post more content and turn the site into a great information source. That doesn’t mean people will flock to Google+, but it’ll matter less if you embed content into other sites you use.
Use the tool to incorporate your content (or someone else’s) into your website or blog. Once it’s up, people can stay right on your site and read blogs, watch videos or join conversations originating on Google+.
This makes it easier to share Google+ content with current followers, and this will motivate you (and others) to spend more time on the site.
People flock to valuable content, and they like the networking aspects of social media. It’s no surprise, then, that webinars and other online events have become so popular. If you want to draw a large crowd and raise awareness of your Google+ profile, consider creating your next big event on the site.
Host a webinar, webcast, Google+ hangout or any other event you want, either online or off. Add the time, date, URL, cover photo, intro copy and ticket seller, if applicable. You can invite anyone from your circle or a Google+ community, but your audience will be larger—not to mention more engaged—if you allow them to invite people from their circles as well.
A good review goes a long way, whether it’s a Like on Facebook or a thumbs-up on YouTube. In the case of Google+, those +1s can raise your search ranking as well as your reputation. Now that those endorsements may automatically appear with the corresponding listing, endorsements from high-profile influencers are extremely valuable.
Start linking to key players in your field, and develop content that resonates with them. Following the same pattern of Ripples, by having high authorities and experts with large followings share your content, you’ll increase the number of entry points to your site.
This is essentially the process of targeting social ambassadors and leveraging their network in a mutually beneficial way; their followers enjoy your content and click through to your site.
Social media networks comprise people from all walks of life, so many users join communities focused around one specific thing. Joining one of these communities puts you in touch with prospective colleagues, customers and followers. You might end up competing for attention, though, so consider creating your own community once you learn the ropes.
I shared one my personal blog posts in the SEO Community, and the “official” SEO page (with 65,000 followers) re-shared it:
This drove 54 visitors to my site, plus I had a cool discussion with someone in the comments section. By sharing in communities, you’re essentially giving your site additional (and free) entry points. What’s more, if other people pick up and share, you create “ripples” which catalyze the sharing of content.
While you should still reach out to existing communities, creating your own has lots of advantages. For one thing, you can make the focus of the group as broad or narrow as you want. Plus, you can control how large the community gets. For instance, a public group welcomes everyone, while a closed group can be limited to customers and blog subscribers.
Inbound marketing on Google+ does require a time investment, but if you already have a loyal community on Facebook or Twitter, it will be much easier to get the ball rolling.
What’s your experience with inbound marketing on Google Plus? Share it in the comments below!
Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing. He writes on a variety of topics on his blog Mashbout. Follow Jesse on Google Plus.